1939: The Balance Sheet: Paradoxes and Imponderables -- Part 33
The economic difficulties of the 1970s and 1980s became more severe because of the deep-seeded historical antipathies within the Soviet bloc countries.
The various economies of the Bloc had evolved in substantially different directions, but, even where there was a slowly rising standard of living, many in the soviet bloc were left dissatisfied.
Hungary, which was brutally repressed in 1956, evolved in relatively liberal directions without major objections from the Soviets.
"Goulash Communism" provided more consumer goods and intellectual freedom than the Soviet Union.
If Germany turned into one of the most efficient secret-police states in history, it made considerable economic progress.
The independent foreign policy of the Communists of Romania was resented by the Soviets because of the poor state of the country.
Since the early years of the Cold War, Yugoslavia has had independence from the Soviets.
Almost all of Europe's states, as well as the United States, Canada, and the Soviet Union, signed the Accords in 1975, promising economic cooperation and mutual aid.
In order to solve their economic problems, western Europe and the United States provided loans, investments, and other forms of economic aid to the Soviet Union.
That tendency meant a rising foreign debt and a dependence on the West.
In a more subtle way, the detente of the 1970s opened eastern Europe to Western influence, however much the Soviet and Eastern Bloc leaders continued in their clumsy efforts to limit cultural "contamination" from the West.
In the 70s, Communism would "bury" the other, but on the Communist side there were growing signs that its members were closer to the grave.
The American president became the most popular Republican in the United States since Eisenhower and also a hero to many in the Soviet bloc.
Communism was far from living up to expectations even if capitalism was having a difficult time.
The collapse of Communist rule in eastern Europe was influenced by developments in Poland.
Poland, as the largest of the soviet bloc countries, was watched with special concern by the soviets, who were hesitant to invade it since it promised to be more bloody than the invasion of Hungary in 1956.
When Gomulka assumed power in 1956, he was relatively popular and made a number of concessions to Polish reality, such as allowing private ownership of land by peasants and giving considerable latitude to the Catholic Church.
He faced angry demonstrations when he increased the price of food in December 1970.
Hundreds of demonstrators were killed by the Polish forces.
Edward Gierek, the new Communist leader, was another disappointment.
There was no doubt that the Polish workers were working and looking for a new leader.
Solidarity is a new trade-union movement.
Solidarity's leading figure, lech Walesa, came to rival Dubcek in the extent to which he was regarded as a heroic figure, lionized inside Poland and out, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Walesa was a practicing Catholic and a confirmed Polish nationalist.
In the summer of 1980, Poland's workers lost faith in Communist rule and ran out of patience as a result of a series of events.
The communist authorities in Poland doubted that it was possible to violently suppress the strikers since both Polish soldiers and police had begun to fraternize with them.
After over a year of complex maneuvers and negotiations with strike leaders, the Polish army suddenly arrested them and declared martial law.
In order to prevent a Soviet invasion, rule by the Polish military was necessary according to Jaruzelski.
Walesa and other strike leaders were alarmed by the possibility of an invasion.
Military dictatorships had characterized the past in Poland and much of eastern Europe.
Communism wasn't working in this broader sense.
The Christian Democrats and the SPD formed a "grand coalition" in West Germany in 1966.
From 1957 to 1966 the leader of the Social Democratic Party was a popular mayor of Berlin and became foreign minister under the grand coalition.
He became chancellor in 1969 after allied with the Free Democrats.
The office of chancellor has been held by a Social Democrat since 1930.
The country led for over two decades by Christian Democrats is not known for their openness to change, especially in foreign policy.
Many Germans, especially the younger generation, were inspired by Brandt's life story.
On the eve of the Nazi takeover, Brandt was an active member of the left wing of the SPD.
He spent most of the war years in exile.
He hoped to reduce Cold War tensions and enhance West Germany's image as a peace-loving country by 1969 after firmly establishing his anti-Communist credentials.
The Christian Democrats had an uncompromising stance towards the Communists in East Germany.
In 1970 a picture of Brandt kneeling before a monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto became an icon.
He was chancellor for five years.
There is a monument to the Jewish dead in Warsaw.
The appeasement of the Nazis was similar to that of the communists.
The German right wing was more likely to fault him for leaving his country during the Nazi period and taking up Norwegian citizenship than for enhancing the image of the anti-Nazi "good German".
Critics simply believed that any offers to cooperate with Communists were inherently dangerous and better to "bury" them in order to continue a hard-line policy of competition and confrontation.
They were among the millions of Germans who were expelled from Poland and other areas in eastern Europe and still wanted to return to their homes.
The non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union was one of the achievements of Brandt's office, as well as pacts with East Germany and Poland that recognized the Oder- Neisse boundaries with Poland.
The end of World War II, the recognition of European borders, and the agreement to settle international disputes peacefully were all achieved by Brandt's foreign-policy initiatives.