Changes in central and East Europe

Eastern European Nations Still struggling with reform.

Changes In Poland/Hungary


  • Poland and Hungary were among the first countries in Eastern Europe to embrace change and turn from a communist government

  • In 1980, Polish workers from the Gdansk shipyard went on strike and demanded that the government recognize their union which was called Solidarity

  • The leader of this union was Lech Walesa (lehk vah-WEHN-sah)

  • In 1981, the government banned Solidarity but they realized that they could no longer use military rule to revive Poland’s failing economy

  • In 1988, workers walked off their jobs and demanded raises and for Solidarity to be legalized again

  • The military legalized Solidarity in 1989 and Poland’s first free election since the Communists took over was held

  • During the elections voters voted against the Communist and Lech Walesa was elected president

  • Walesa tried to revive the bankrupt economy and he adopted a strategy of shock therapy to move Poland towards a free-market economy

  • In 1995, Walesa was voted out of office and replaced by former communist Aleksander Kwasnewski who pushed for democracy and free markets

  • He led Poland’s drive to become part of the broad European community and in 1999 Poland became a full member NATO

  • They provided strong support in the terrorist war after the 9/11 attack on the twin towers


  • Inspired by Poland, Hungary soon began their own reform program formers encouraged private enterprises and a small stock market operated

  • In October of 1989 a communist party was taken over by radicals who disposed of the parties leaders and later dissolved itself

  • In 1994 a socialist party won majority seats in parliament and they formed an alliance with the democratic party to rule

  • In 1999 Hungary became a member of NATO

  • In 2001 they had a general economic downturn

Solidarity How Poland Changed the World

Germany reunited

Germany Reunification

  • East German government closed the border entirely because the people were escaping through the Austrian border. Protesters erupted across East Germany demanding the right to travel freely and free elections. So on November 9, 1989 the walls came down. The people of Berlin rejoiced and by the end of 1989 the East German Communist Party ceased to exist. After the fall, Germany spoke of reunification, which is the merging of the two Germanys. This happened officially on October 3, 1990. The new reunified Germany faced problems because the Communist ruled Germany had not been modernized so taxes were raised. The raise of taxes cause the economy to slow down and the unemployment to go up. Germany had the highest unemployment rate in Europe.

Overthrow In Romania

  • Nicolae Ceausesecu was the Communist dictator of Romania

  • The secret police in Romania enforced the rules of Nicolae very strictly

  • Romanians began a protest because they heard of the reforms in other countries

  • The army was ordered to fire on demonstrators in Timisoarai in December of 1989

  • Nicolae and his wife tried to flee the country but were captured and executed on Christmas Day
  • In the 1990’s, Romania struggled with crime and corruption as they tried to salvage their economy
  • In 2001 overall production was STILL only 75% of what it’d been in 1989
  • The government made economic reforms to to introduce elements of capitalism
  • In order to come part of the European Union (EU) the romanian government began to move away from a state-controlled economy

The Breakup of Yugoslavia

  • osip Tito led Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1980 held the country together and after his death, ethnic resentments boiled over

  • In June 1991,the Serbian-led Yugoslav army invaded both republics

  • In 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina joined Slovenia and Croatia in declaring Independence

  • Ethnic cleansing was used by the Serbian military forces against Bosnian Muslims living in Serb-held lands

  • By 1995, Serbian Military controlled 70% of Bosnia

  • In December of 1995, leaders of the three factions involved in the war signed a UN- and US- brokered peace treaty

  • In 1996, Bosnians elected a three-person presidency, one leader for each ethnic group

  • In 2001, Bosnia and Herzegovina began to stand on its own without as much need for supervision by the international community

Democracy Spreads In Czechoslovakia

Eastern Germany affected other European Countries, like Czechoslovakia and Romania

East Germany had been for weeks`demanding democracy in Germany. Czechoslovakia remained quiet. A conservative government decided to resist all changes though, it was led by Milos Jakes. 1989 the police arrested several dissidents, one of them being playwright Vaclav Havel. October 28, 1989 100,000 people gathered in Prague demanding democracy and freedom some of which were students who were influenced by the Fall of the Berlin wall. Upon orders police officers people were physically apprehended. Later 500,000 people gathered and protested, causing Milos and his entire party to resign.One month after Vaclav Havel became the elected president of Czechoslovakia. Shock therapy was a economic program put up by reforms that hurt Slovakia. Havel resigned however do to the split of the Czech republic and Slovakia ( Jan 1 1993), it split due to economic transgressions. Havel got elected again in the Czech republic, and then after him Victor Klaus. The Czech republic pushed to become a full member of the EU. Slovakia too followed a western path, becoming a part of Nato and the EU

Czech history in 5 minutes
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