Why did Communism Fall in Eastern Europe in 1989?

What is communism?

Communism is a political and economic system that became one of the most powerful forces in the world. It shaped much of the history from the early 1900’s to the 1990’s. Some people considered communism as the greatest risk to world peace, while others have looked on it as the world’s greatest hope. Communism has several meanings. It can be a form of government, an economic system, or a revolutionary movement.

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“A decade has passed since the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe. The political and economic transformations taking place in these now independent nations are widely reported and closely followed”. (Adam, 1999)

Anti-Communist Violence revolutions, occurred occasionally. With the beginning of five years plan by Stalin, and the broke out of world war two, it led to the main problem of famine. He forbidden the freedom of speech as the matters of mass arrests, the fact about the purges and the labor camps were not let to be discussed in any sort of media. Khrushchev, who did well Stalin after his death in 1953, was the Communist leader at that time. In order to defend the East Germany communist government, Stalin used armed equipped forces to let down the revolts. This serves the reason of Stalin’s to humiliate the cultural and intellectual life of the Russians. Lenin, for instance, used his power through the Civil Wars between Whites and Reds. Poland revolution occurred in 1956. And hence, this led to severe food shortage in Russia. Criticism of government officials was authorized to make in public and permitted the media to inform citizens with news. Surviving on the little wages, the agricultural base products that were produced by the peasants were all took away from the government as taxes.

Karl Marx invented the theory of communism. According to the Columbian encyclopedia, Communism is useful to the movement that aims to defeat the capitalist order by revolutionary means and to set up a good classless society in which all services and goods will be socially owned.

Communism can be defined as “an economic theory which stresses that the control of the means of producing economic goods in a society should reside in the hands of those who invest their labor for production. In its ideal form, social classes cease to exist, there are no coercive governmental structures, and everyone lives in abundance without supervision from a ruling class” (Latin American History – Terms and Definitions, n.d.)

            “John Paul II has been credited with helping to bring down communism in Eastern Europe by sparking what amounted to a peaceful revolution in his Polish homeland… …actually; John Paul II was a catalyst in the collapse of Communism”. (Pope John Paul 2 and Communism, n.d.)

The fall of communism in Eastern Europe was a big tragedy. Communism in Eastern Europe was condemned because of lack of support from other neighboring nations; lack of a good solution to the economic fiasco; and due to the reformation by Gorbachev. The idea of Karl Marx behind the creation of communism was to create a state that would be ruled by workers and employees. Besides this, Karl Marx thought that under the “Tsar”, the government authorities would spoil the employees and workers and hence a revolution would take place sooner or later. He thought that this would certainly lead to the birth of the communist system.

The motive behind communism was to provide equivalent share of work according to a person’s abilities and needs. Melich stated that “economic and political transition in Eastern Europe may be seen as depending on: (1) initial economic and sociopolitical conditions; (2) external developments; and (3) governmental policies”. (Jiri S and Melich, 2000)

After the Second World War, communist parties in Eastern Europe kept a firm grip over their nations. “After the velvet revolutions of 1989, they suddenly seemed to lose their hold. Initially, it was generally accepted that the so-called post-communist countries of Eastern Europe would undergo a rather rapid transition with the demise of communism. They would change from societies characterized by a command economy and a one-party political system into societies with a market economy and a pluralistic political system”. (Wil, et.al, 1995)

Reasons for fall of Communism

 The relative economy of the Soviet collectivist system fell down. The USSR placed military/economic burdens on the Warsaw pact nations in relation to the Marshall plan and implemented analogous policies after World War II. The “Polish miracle” took place when the economic crisis became a spiritual crisis. In 1970’s, the economy of Poland suffered very much because of poor leadership and the world depression. Under Jaruzelski, the Polish communist leadership shattered the movement in 1981 when Solidarity lost its cohesiveness, and made martial law compulsory. Polish intellectual and cultural life remained energetic despite the repression. Therefore, Polish communists dropped efforts to inflict the Soviet-style collectivization on peasants and to shatter the Catholic Church.

Moreover, bad infrastructure and economic reinvestment was a problem for most of the nations but in the old “Warsaw bloc states”, deteriorating circumstances did not permit aggressive reinvestment over time. Former archbishop of Cracow, Pope John Paul II, called awareness for the rights of all people.

Lech Walesa led democratic trade union movements called Solidarity which demanded industrial, economic and political rights. The Strikes in August in 1980 led to revolutionary demands, which were accepted by the government according to the Gdansk Agreement. Solidarity members went underground and fought after1981 with popular support. In 1985, under the command of Gorbachev, a new era of fundamental change began. Afterwards, in 1989, free elections were held for the first time since 1917 and democratization began in the USSR. This democratization supported demands for independence by non-Russian minorities. Hence, Gorbachev withdrew troops from Afghanistan and demanded reforms in Eastern Europe and a series of opposite communist revolts increased across Eastern Europe. Gorbachev’s modification strategies in the USSR failed and mutinies started because of anti-communist movements.

Gorbachev’s new constitution eliminated the Communist party’s monopoly of power as he was elected president of the USSR. Boris Yeltsin was chosen as a leader of parliament while Gorbachev tried to maintain the Soviet Union intact. By declaring Russia independent from the USSR, Yeltsin reasoned the dismemberment of the Soviet Empire. Gorbachev’s job stopped to exist. Russia then concentrated on developing a strong Russia.

In 1989, Czechoslovakian people expelled communist bosses. Only in Romania was the insurgency violent and bloody. On December 25, 1989, Nicolae Ceau?escu, General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party was executed along with his wife after they were charged and convicted for state crimes and genocide. Romania’s political forecast remained vague and anti-communists and democrats won local elections in February 1990.

Meanwhile, in Hungary, many fundamental economic and political reforms were instituted. Renowned resistance and communist freedom ended one-party rule and brought transparent elections in 1990. Borders between Hungary and East Germany were opened. Rising economic dislocation brought insurgency in East Germany. Therefore, communist leaders were swept out of authority.

The end of communism in East Germany revived the question of German unification. East German restructuring communists had frightened unification and appeared for a third way. However, the idea was flopped because approximately half of the population fled and because West German Kohl presented a generous economic plan in order to dissolve East Germany. East and West Germany amalgamated as one nation at the end of the cold war. The key to unification was Gorbachev’s approval in exchange for aid. Germany was publicly unified in 1993.

The Paris Accord of 1990 brought 22 European countries to agree to arms lessening and to affirm existing borders. On the other hand, the Soviets and the Americans followed with an important reduction in nuclear weapons. Therefore, the world became a relatively safer place to live after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

Economic Environment after fall of Communism

The fall down of communism in Eastern Europe and in the USSR offered an array of new opportunities but also evils for much of this region. However, with this downfall, the opportunity arises to develop a democratic government and a pure market economy. The procedure has been a slow one. People made efforts to re-establish civil liberties and they wanted to enjoy the standard of living similar to that of the people of Western Europe.


“From the beginning to the end, communism was never a legal action; it was illegitimated. They controlled the freedom of politic, social, culture, and economic. As the economic situation worsened, so did the people’s support for the communism”. (A Feast for pounds Sterling) after the fall of communism, Bulgaria went through a period of instability and uncertainty. However, the country was in the grip of a currency crisis and organized crime. Now, it is a stable democracy which will join the EU in 2007. Crime is down, the streets are safe, and the future is as bright as it has looked since the crumbling of the Turkish rule 128 years ago.  “Now that communism has been eliminated, Jewish life has improved dramatically. It is ironic, however, that, because of the more open expression of anti-Semitism, Jews in many Eastern European countries feel less secure”. (Lipstadt, 1993)


Adam Szostkiewicz; (September 24, 1999), Magazine article, RELIGION AFTER COMMUNISM: Churches Stumble in Eastern Europe

A Feast for [pounds Sterling] 15? It Must Be Bulgaria; Cheaper Than Greece, Prettier Than France and Not a Lager Lout in Sight. Head for Eastern Europe, Newspaper article, The Daily Mail (London, England) (July, 2004),

Deborah Lipstadt. Anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe Rears Its Ugly Head Again, (September 1993), USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education), Vol. 122,

Arts Wil, Piet Hermkens, Peter Van Wijck; (1995),  Journal article, Anomie, Distributive Injustice and Dissatisfaction with Material Well-Being in Eastern Europe: A Comparative Study, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 36

Latin American History – Terms and Definitions, (n.d.)

http://www.ilstu.edu/class/hist127/terms.html1 Accessed, April 23, 2007

Jiri S. Melich, (2000), Journal article, the relationship between the political and the economic transformation is Eastern Europe: continuity and discontinuity and the problems of models, East European Quarterly, Vol. 34

Pope John Paul 2 and Communism, (n.d.)

http://www.religion-cults.com/pope/communism.htm Accessed, April 23, 2007


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Why did Communism Fall in Eastern Europe in 1989?. (2016, Dec 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/why-did-communism-fall-in-eastern-europe-in-1989/