During the cold war several national uprisings took place in Eastern Europe which were directed against the socialistic authoritative governments. Citizens, suffering from supply bottlenecks, felt abandoned by their states and eventually protested against the autocracy of their government. The most renowned uprisings took place in the GDR (1953), Hungary (1956) and in Czechoslovakia (1968).
National uprising on the 17th of June 1953
On the 17th of June 1953 a nation-wide general strike took place in the GDR. The Socialist Unity PartyThe Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the political party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation in 1946 until 1990 of Germany had passed a five-year-plan in 1951 that was supposed to double the domestic production, when this plan could not be realised however wages were cut immensely and labour standards were raised. The subsequent general strikes in several cities eventually resulted in a national uprising. Nevertheless the government refused to abdicate or agree to reformations, instead Soviet troops dissipated the uprising brutally and imprisoned thousands of people1.
Riots in Hungary
During the fight for freedom in Hungary in 1956 revolutionists from universities and the middle-class rebelled against the government of the communistic party and the Soviet garrison’s influence. After a peaceful mass demonstration of students had been shot at an armed fight broke out, in which police and army joined the demonstrators. Imre NagyImre Nagy was a Hungarian communist politician. His second term ended when his non-Soviet-backed government was brought down by Soviet invasion in the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was installed as the new Prime minister by the communistic central comity and he promised liberal elections and a multiparty system on taking office. Furthermore he promised Hungary’s resignation from the Warsaw PactThe Warsaw Pact was a collective defense treaty among eight communist states of Central and Eastern Europe in existence during the Cold War and advocated the independence from the Soviet Union. Nagy’s policies however were prohibited by the Soviet government and the revolution brutally crushed. Nagy was executed after a criminal trial2.
Prague Spring – 1968
During the 1960s Czechoslovakia’s economy had to suffer a devastating stagnation while criticism against the Soviet influence and the imposed planned economy grew. The economical crisis of 1963 prompted Antonín NovotnýAntonín Novotný was General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from 1953 to 1968 to form a socialistic market economy by reformations. As Novotný did not want to accept loans from Western countries however, his reformations did not succeed. His successor Alexander DubčekAlexander Dubček attempted to reform the communist regime during the Prague Spring tried for a humane form of socialism, including the introduction of civil rights and limiting the influence the government was granted on economic processes. These efforts failed however as the members of the Warsaw Pact and members of Dubcek’s party had opposed the reformations.
Leonid BrezhnevLeonid Brezhnev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1964 until 1982 allowed the invasion of troops in Czechoslovakia and thus prohibited the introduction of civil rights.
The so called Brezhnev doctrineThe Breschnew doctrine was announced in 1968 to retroactively justify the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 that ended the Prague Spring passed in 1968 limited the future sovereignty of socialist states3.