What were the methods the USSR used to impose their control over eastern Europe and how effective were they?

Essay by KeirHigh School, 11th gradeA, November 2005

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The USSR's influence and domination of Eastern Europe during the 40's and the 50's of the previous century has left indisputable marks upon the region's economic, political and global status, evident still today. As to how this Soviet control was garnered and maintained, and the measure of effectiveness it had, there are two main time periods to examine, namely, Eastern Europe under Stalin, and destalinised Russia under Khrushchev. If control were defined as the "ability to authorize, manage or direct", the former time period would be relatively more effective than the latter. For the sake of the argument, we will only deal with the Soviet Union's influence on Eastern Europe under the Stalinist regime.

Under Stalin's rule, the most effective methods of gaining control over the USSR's satellite states included Salami Tactics (1947-1950) Comecon (1950's), and militaristic threat and presence. The Salami Tactics, conceived in the late 1940's by the Hungarian communist leader, Matyas Rakosi, and was implemented successfully by the beginning of the 1950's.

Consecutively, Albania (1945), Bulgaria (1945), Poland (1947), Romania (1945-47), Hungary (1947), Czechoslovakia (1945-48) and East Germany (1949), fell within the grasp of the USSR through the formation of coalitions, discrediting and executing opposing forces until the communist party alone was in power. The plan to take a nation 'slice by slice' was especially effective in the case of Hungary, where the country was invaded by Russians, allowed to hold elections, where the opposing party gained the majority, and lead by Rakosi, the communist party came to full power through the banning of anti-communist parties, setting up of the police force AVO and the arresting of thousands of non-communists. Similar strategies were used in the other East European countries. Salami Tactics was the political foundation upon which Soviet control was exercised.

The Council for Mutual...