U.S. Reaction to the Chernobyl Explosion


On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine led to the radioactive contamination of the surrounding countryside and to radioactive fallout throughout Eastern and Western Europe. In a test of the new Soviet policy of glasnost' (openness), Soviet authorities acknowledged the disaster, though only after Western countries had traced the radiation source to... Read More »

U.S. Support for Perestroika


In May 1988, President Ronald Reagan traveled to the Soviet Union for a summit meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev. While in Moscow, he addressed a group of students at Moscow State University, using this forum as a chance to publicly announce his support for the Gorbachev's ongoing reform efforts. In this excerpt of his speech, he condemns the opponents of Gorbachev's reforms, and uses a popular... Read More »

Ukrainian Central Committee on Ethnic Issues


This statement by the Ukrainian Communist Party was an attempt to respond to growing expressions of nationalist sentiment within the Ukrainian population, while also seeking to maintain control over the expression of dissenting views and preventing inter-ethnic conflicts, especially between the majority Ukrainians and minority Russians and Jews.

Two men sitting, one has a stringed instrument and one has a drum.

Uysal-Walker Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative

By collecting and translating these folktales, the three interviewers preserved many oral traditions that may have otherwise been lost in the dynamism of a changing, 21st-century Turkey.

Uzbek Minister on Restoring Order in Tashkent


This interview with V. Kamalov, minister of internal affairs of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, echoes a perception similar to that of S.A. Niyazov, the Communist Party leader of Turkmenistan, in a related document, which attributes a sense of disorder to the expression of political perspectives.

Vacations under Socialism


In this oral history interview conducted in Braşov, Romania, during the summer of 2003, “E” discusses traveling under Socialism. She notes that, despite the fact that the country was led by an uneducated dictator, people—that is working people—always received a two week, state-subsidized vacation. Since this benefit is no longer guaranteed by the State, a number of women felt this aspect of... Read More »

Verbal Message from Mikhail Gorbachev to Helmut Kohl


With the opening of the border between East and West Germany on November 9, 1989, jubilant crowds took to the streets in Berlin to celebrate this historic event. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was traveling in Poland when word reached him about the events in East Germany and he quickly rearranged his schedule so that he could make a public appearance the following day, on November 10.... Read More »

Warsaw Embassy Cable, Conversation with General Kiszczak


For the United States government, the rapid changes unfolding in Poland were a source of hope and excitement but also considerable anxiety. In principle, American diplomats could only welcome the prospect of pro-American, pro-market Solidarity politicians playing a key role in a new Polish government. And yet any change that seemed too much of a threat to Soviet interests held the risk of... Read More »

Who Controls Poland?


Following the first congress of Solidarity held in September 1981 in which Solidarity leaders adopted "An Appeal to the Peoples of Eastern Europe," Leonid Brezhnev (first party secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [CPSU]) secretly called Stanislaw Kania (first party secretary of the Communist Party in Poland [PZPR]) to discuss the ramifications of both the congress and the... Read More »

Women’s Attitudes Toward the Transition to Democracy


During a set of oral history interviews conducted in Braşov, Romania, in the summer of 2003, “C,” “E,” “O,” “M,” and “L” discuss how the transition to a democratic system and a market economy have impacted politics, the economy, and women’s professional and everyday lives. Their reflections offer insights into the varied ways that women have been affected by, and perceive the changes that have... Read More »