Collapse of communism in eastern Europe
This is the final revision episode (for now!) in the series examining the Cold War for GCSE and IGCSE students. Focusing on the collapse of communism in eastern Europe it assesses the effect of the Solidarity movement in Poland, and the role of Gorbachev, in bringing about the end of Soviet dominance in the region. The second part of the podcast goes on to explore the specific experiences of major eastern European countries in the lat 1980s and early 1990s.
The podcast begins with Poland, where massive popular opposition to the government led to the establishment of the Solidarity trade union in the Gdansk shipyards. The rise of Solidarity is described, along with the subsequent government clampdown under the government of Jaruzelski. The impact of Solidarity is considered.
The second section looks at the USSR under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. His two key policies of perestroika and glasnost are explained, and their impact of Soviet foreign policy is assessed.
In the final section of the podcast, I describe the process through which the states of eastern Europe freed themselves from communist rule. The most popular exam questions on the collapse of communism focus on asking WHY a certain event contributed to the end of the system, or ask to what extent a particular event was responsible. Remember that to answer any of these questions you need to support your reason with solid evidence, and explain exactly WHY it contributed to the collapse of communism.