In 1945 the Soviet Union was an Empire on a roll. It had already annexed the Baltic States, and parts of Poland, Romania and Finland. The non-annexed Soviet sphere in Europe not including Yugoslavia extended to a territory of over 392 000 square miles with a population larger than 92 million. Aside from Europe the Kremlin demonstrated its interest in territory or influence in the non-European parts of Turkey, Iran, North Africa and the Far East. Nevertheless, many historians ascribe Soviet expansion to rational or irrational security concerns. There is much in favor of this argument. The USSR lost 20 million of its people in World War II. It was, despite having the largest land army in the world, in many ways militarily inferior to its capitalist rivals, Great Britain and the United States. The Soviets suffered tremendous economic losses during the war, and their industrial base was technologically under developed. The traditional Russian feeling of vulnerability to the West was reinforced by Stalin's own sense of paranoia. As Robert Jervis and others have pointed out, what from one perspective appears to be expansion, can be seen from another as measures designed to enhance security.1 Defense and offense are the two sides of the same coin. Many historians tend to explain postwar Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe and the imposition of Stalinist regimes as a response to American interference in a sphere the Soviets rightfully regarded their own. That is to say, Soviet policy in Eastern Europe was reactive.
This study of Soviet penetration in Hungary suggests that the Soviet Union was an expansionist power. Most studies of Soviet conduct have concentrated on the ideological and military aspects of Soviet foreign policy. It is true that the Soviet Union used its adjacent lands in Eastern Europe as a buffer zone, signing agreements with the satellites that amounted to the extension of the Soviet military perimeter to Eastern Europe. Soviet ideological proselytism is illustrated by the fact that Moscow helped to power Communist parties that constructed ideological states, were devoted to the world-wide triumph of Soviet ideology over capitalism and accepted the leading role of the Soviet Union in the world Communist movement. But ideological states were not necessarily erected only because the Soviet Union wanted to live up to its historical mission of guiding humanity to an