The communist states of eastern Europe remained individual states but their political systems had much in common.
At an international level they were integrated into the Soviet sphere of influence. This was achieved through a network of bilateral treaties, Moscow being suspicious of multi-lateral agreements which might have allowed too much initiative to be shown away from the centre. A multi-lateral military organisation did not come into being until 1955 when the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (WTO) was established. This was partly in response to the inclusion of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in NATO and partly because the Soviets needed an excuse to retain Red Army units in Hungary after the signature of the Austrian state treaty; previously those units had been kept in Hungary officially to guard Soviet supply lines to Austria. The international economic organisation, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, Comecon, came into being in 1949 to coordinate eastern economic responses to the Marshall Plan. Until the mid-1950s, however, Comecon had little real effect, employing no more than nine officials in its Moscow headquarters, and after its activation as a living organism its function was not to create an east European equivalent of the common market but rather to coordinate the national economic plans of member states.
Soviet influence was paramount at the domestic as well as the foreign policy level. Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, Hungary, Poland, and Romania adopted the Soviet economic policies of the rapid promotion of heavy industry and the collectivisation of agriculture. This, as in the Soviet Union, was to be achieved through a series of economic plans, centrally determined and centrally administered. For this reason the new socialist countries reshaped their state machines to accommodate the large number of economic ministries which had evolved under the Soviet system. At the same time the Soviet pattern was also copied in the non-economic sector. Armies appeared in Soviet-style uniforms, studying military manuals copied from the Red Army; culture was subordinated to political needs and creativity therefore made way for socialist realism; the legal system was redesigned on Soviet lines; education was reshaped in