Dean Allison

The Satellite States (Soviet Union) :


A Satellite State is a political term that refers to a country or nation that was formally independent, but is now politically and economically influenced by another country. The term is often used to reference the Soviet Empire, Soviet Satellite States, or Eastern Bloc.


Beginning/Cold War:

Following World War II, many eastern European countries that were socialists and supporters of the U.S.S.R. policy, became Satellite States. The Soviet Union controlled six countries that became known as the Eastern Bloc countries (Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania). The Soviet Union gained power over these nations during an era known as the Cold War. The Cold War was the worldwide tension between Western democracy (U.S.A.) and the spread of Communism (U.S.S.R.).



Living Under Satellite Control:
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While all six nations were formally independent, not all the nations supported the Soviet Union's policy, nor wanted to be under her control. However, membership of the Satellite States was not voluntary, these nations had no choice. The Satellite states were simply under complete control of the Soviet Union. Citizens lived under the brutal ruling of Stalin as relations between the U.S.S.R. and her Eastern Bloc were harsh. However, light was shone upon the Satellite States following the death of Stalinin 1953. Destalinization and the warming of relations brought the Satellites into the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Theses treaties outlined the economic policies of the nations, as well as formed an alliance between them all. While conditions may have slightly improved, the Satellite states began to plan their fight for liberalization and freedom from Soviet control. Apart from the general control from Moscow, citizens were fearful of their government, had few rights, and were scared of the future of the world and communism during these times. The U.S.S.R. and many of the Satellite states were also at a rebuilding stage following the damages endured during World War II. With their nation in ruins, citizens were now faced with the challenge of adopting a harsh, violent communist government that was carried out from a different country.


Liberalization and the Collapse of the Eastern Bloc:

The harsh Soviet ruling became too harsh and the people wanted freedom and independence. Three of the Soviet Satellite States attempted rebellions to escape the grasp of Soviet control. Leading it off, Poland in 1956, shortly followed by Hungary that same year, and Czechoslovakia in 1968, are the three countries that had uprisings in a push to leave the U.S.S.R. In all of these instances, the Soviets immediately used military force to arrest and quickly silence the uprisings. The Soviet Union was careful about granting the states any freedoms because if one was granted more freedom, the others would want the same. Following Poland, there was no stopping the process, and inevitability the Eastern Bloc would collapse. One by one the satellites liberalized like the falling of dominoes right up until 1989. The video below is a brief background on the situation of the Hungarian lead revolt in 1956 to separate from the Eastern Bloc. The Hungarian people were inspired by the Polish uprising and paraded in the streets demanding rights and opportunities. Hungarians wanted immediate and radical change.

Significance of the Satellite States:
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The Satellite States are seemingly an irrelevant factor of the Cold War, however the Soviet Control and breakup of these states play a huge role. The initial control of these nations by the Soviet Union made up the Iron Curtain in Europe, which was the territorial division of Europe between Communist and non Communist nations. This ‘curtain,’ was the main focus of the Cold War and the tension between Western democracies against the spread of communism. With the spread of communism by the control of the newly formed Satellite States, Stalin created the world wide conflict. As a result, western nations were so fearful of communism control, they were willing to fight to contain it. The United States' war against communism in Vietnam is directly related to the brutality endured by these Satellite States. On the contrary, the collapse of the Satellite States, signified the end of the Cold War all together. The nations that liberated and escaped Soviet Control ended the Cold War. However, permanent conflict between nations has been created from the Cold War and Soviet Union's Eastern Bloc. The United States are at permanent opposition to communism and own unresolved tension with the U.S.S.R.









Resources:

http://www.gcsehistory.org.uk/modernworld/coldwar/satellitestates.htm

http://www.geographia.com/russia/rushis07.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_state

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