The Eastern European Economy in Context: Communism and the Transition

By David Turnock | Go to book overview

2

EASTERN EUROPE UNDER COMMUNISM

IDEOLOGY, POLITICAL STRUCTURES AND POPULATION

Communism in Eastern Europe is now being regarded as an aberration; an unfortunate survival of global conflict as a cold war played out by opposing power blocks (Dockrill 1988). Wartime cooperation among the allies quickly broke down as the Soviets worked to separate their zone of influence from the rest of Europe and to emphasise the coherence of the new alliance through the national communist parties and more formal institutions like the Warsaw Pact (Holden 1989). The changes were most dramatic in Germany where the zonal division (Sharp 1975) crystallised into two German states with their separate economies (Wilkens 1981) and a highly fortified inner boundary (Ritter and Hajdu 1989). The city of Berlin became a microcosm of the German problem (Elkins and Hofmeister 1988; Francisco and Merritt 1985) as the Soviet Zone (East Berlin) was completely separated from the combined American, British and French zones (West Berlin) by the Berlin Wall in 1961 (Elkins 1989; Smith 1961); and the infrastructure was revamped to isolate West Berlin as far as possible from the FGDR (Merritt 1973). But an Iron Curtain was imposed throughout, with only a few tightly controlled border crossings and international trade internalised within the bloc as far as possible. Between the member states there was an equally comprehensive border administration.

It was in Stalin's interest to impose authority on Eastern Europe to gain security and access to East European resources, initially attractive though later to become problematic where economic matters were concerned. But the establishment of communist regimes also demonstrated 'the readiness of a determined minority of communists in each country to use coercion, deception and manipulation of their fellow countrymen in order to secure a monopoly of power', taking advantage of 'the physical exhaustion and political disorientation of the war-ravaged population' (Batt 1991, p.3). Elite penetration of all facets of government and international coordination made legitimation difficult (Neumann 1988), but power was effectively consolidated and the propaganda war created an image of purposeful progress.

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The Eastern European Economy in Context: Communism and the Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Maps viii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • References 10
  • 2 - Eastern Europe Under Communism 12
  • 3 - The Transition 84
  • 4 - Transition to a Market Economy 136
  • 5 - National Profiles 177
  • 6 - National Profiles 218
  • 7 - Restructuring in Agriculture and Industry 261
  • 8 - Prospects for the Regions of Eastern Europe 323
  • Bibliography 361
  • Index 391
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