What were the factors that played a significant role in the collapse of Russian control over Eastern Europe; was it the Pope?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The election of Pope John Paul II, who was from Poland and the first non-Italian pope in almost 600 years was a factor; but not the efficient cause of the collapse of communism. Communism was doomed from the beginning; as an economic theory it simply does not work. Almost all communist regimes were marked by bureaucratic incompetence and a cumbersome system of centralized control. This is illustrated by the domino effect that resulted from the collapse of Communist regimes in Poland and the rest of Western Europe, ultimately culminating with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The first evidence of cracks in the communist bloc occured in Gdansk, Poland with the birth of the Solidarity movement led by Lech Wolesa.They struck and occupied a plant there with the support of the Catholic Church. The movement was augmented by a speech by Pope John Paul II in Poland in which he spoke of the "unalienable rights of man." The Polish government attempted to quell the movement by arresting its members; but it had gained so much popular support that it was unstoppable. The Communist government called for elections, expecting to win control of the government, but were resoundingly defeated. Solidarity took control of the government and introduced a free market system and eliminated the secret police. Reforms were instituted at a slow pace, however to discourage intervention by the Soviets. In fact, Soviet intervention was unlikely as Communism there was in its death throes.

Poland was followed by Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia, and then Romania. All of the "revolutions" were peaceful except in Romania where the dictator, Nicolai Ceausescu, was shot.  In the Soviet Union, Mikail Gorbachev instituted a policy of "openess" ("Glasnost") in attempt to gradually introduce reforms; however the momentum of the movement was too great. On December 25, 1991, the once mighty Soviet Union ceased to exist.  


daddybutz | Student

The People Power Revolution of 1986 or the Yellow Revolution in the Philippines. It's a successful massive non-violent civil disobedience attempted by the mass to overthrow the regime of the Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. Thar revolution was an inspiration to every country that were under oppressive and authoritarian regimes like the ones in Eastern Europe. You can go to YouTube if you want to see a video of it.