The Soviet take-over of eastern europe started before the end of the second world war. As the Red Army drove the Nazis westward, Soviet leaders already tried to have friendly government installed into the territories. When World War II ended, it was Stalin’s goal to conquer all of eastern europe.
Indeed, despite the common agreement that all eastern european governments would be politically independent, Stalin had announced at Yalta that it was of paramount importance to him to have some control over the eastern european countries, explaining that this would serve as a deterrent to new potential attacks.
After Germany’s defeat, Stalin’s Red Army remained in the occupied zones, which came as a surprise to the other powers. Stalin wanted to have complete control over those countries as he progressively made them more and more subservient to him and consequently influenced their regime into more and more communism. He did this through fear and by rigging the election polls.
The whole region was known as the “Soviet Bloc” or the “Eastern Bloc”, and Stalin’s Red Army was there to intimidate and eliminate the opposition.The secret police was also intimidating through imprisoning, killing, and torturing the opposition. Stalin replaced in governement anybody whom he suspected of lacking loyalty to him. On top of that, he controlled the press and prohibited free speech so that no one could criticize the governments.
To tighten control, he created the Cominform in 1947. The cominform’s aim was to coordinate the work of the communist governments and to allow Stalin to keep an eye on all of the communist leaders to see if they were still loyal to him.He did this by regularly inviting them to Moscow. As twenty to thirty-seven million Russians died in world war two (depending on sources) Stalin’s management of eastern europe is understandable.
Stalin ultimately wanted to protect Russia against future attacks, and creating a “buffer zone” in eastern europe was to him the best way to achieve that. By 1949, all of the eastern european countries except Yugoslavia (currently composed of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina) were a hundred percent loyal and fully devoted to Stalin.The countries’ regimes became known as Stalin’s puppet communist regimes, and the iron curtain was created. The eastern bloc’s countries were unhappy about their lack of freedom, and that resulted in a lot of tension and conflicts throughout the post-war years.
One of the major example of this is the Berlin Blockade. Just like Germany was divided into west and east, Berlin was divided into west and east. West being the allies side and east being the Soviet side. In June 1948, Stalin decided to stop providing vital supplies to west Berlin as its citizens strongly rejected communist candidates in an election.
In response to this came the Berlin Airlift. This consisted in the western power providing by plane all the ressources needed by the western berliners. As Stalin wanted to avoid a potential escalation of violence that could cause a war, he just stopped it nine months later. Another example of Stalinist influence in eastern europe was that of Matyas Rakosi in Hungary.
The non-communists had won the 1945 elections and Tildy became president. However, communist president of the secret police Rakosi decided to execute and arrest all his non-communist opponents.By 1948, Rakosi had complete control of Hungary. He used harsh methods when it came to internal politics and economy.
His dictatorship became one of the crudest in eastern europe. Around 350,000 potentially threatening Hungarian figures such as officials and intellectuals were purged between 1948 to 1956. When it comes to the other countries, Albania was taken immediately and resistance was not met. In Bulgaria a communist government was elected in the 1945 elections, and the communists executed the non-communists.
East Germany became a communist controlled state called the German Democratic Republic in 1949. In Romania, the 1945 elections elected communists to power. As the communists gradually took control, they abolished the monarchy in 1947. In Poland, the communists won the 1947 elections, and thousands of non-communists were arrested or executed.
At the end of the war, Czechoslovakia was ruled by a communist and non-communist government. While President Benest was a non-communist, Prime Minister Gottwald was a communist. In the 1946 fair elections the communists did not have the majority with 38 percent.However the communists controlled the radio, the army, and the police.
After Gottwald had become prime minister a few years earlier, he set up the secret police. And through that, non-communists were arrested. After the 1948 rigged elections that gave the majority to the communists, Gottwald became president and the new leader of this new communist state. Many non-communists were arrested or executed and non-communist foreign minister Masaryk committed suicide.
After Czechozlovakia, the Soviet take over of eastern europe was achieved.After World War two, despite giving some credit to and recognizing the help of its allies, the Russian people felt that they were, for the most part, the ones who were mostly responsible for defeating the Germans. This is legitimate given that 80 percent of the German losses happened on the eastern front, and that the Russia’s army was the first to reach Berlin. As the Russians felt that they had largely won the war, they probably felt like they had the right to shape the future of europe.
On top of that, Russia had been the victim of attacks from the west multiple times.In 1914 and 1941 Germany attacked Russia through Poland. To Stalin, the past was a reliable indicator of what the future could hold. Stalin thought that having control over eastern europe could significantly undermine this threat.
Despite this, it was agreed at the Yalta conference, with the consent of Stalin, that all the countries liberated from Nazi Germany would have the right to be democratic and politically independent. Stalin obviously did not keep this promise. However, was he really wrong, because it had also been agreed at Yalta that eastern europe would have governments “friendly” to the Soviet Union?
Cite this How did Stalin take over Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1949?
How did Stalin take over Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1949?. (2017, Nov 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/how-did-stalin-take-over-eastern-europe-between-1945-and-1949/