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Communist Party's Role in Estonia's Fate Revealed

Source

In this selection, a member of the Communist Party in Estonia articulates a new role for Communists as leaders of the movement for national self-determination within the existing structures of the Soviet Union. In addition to defining the goals in this excerpt, the remainder of this article focuses on the controversial role of Communists in collaborating in the forced incorporation of Estonia... Read More »

Continuing Arms Reduction after the INF Treaty

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In order to reform the Soviet economy, Mikhail Gorbachev believed it was necessary to cut spending on the Soviet military. As part of this process, Gorbachev actively pursued arms reductions in a series of negotiations with the United States. In December 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in Washington, DC. The treaty... Read More »

Conversations between the Catholic Church and the Polish Government

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Poland was unique among Warsaw Pact countries in the degree of influence retained by the Catholic Church. But the church was also viewed as a powerful competitor to the state, and its leaders were among the first to be monitored and harassed during periods of social unrest. It is for this reason that the meeting transcribed in this document is so remarkable: Church officials proposed church... Read More »

Damiens’s Testimony to Parlement

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During the course of his trial Damiens was interrogated over fifty times by the magistrates of the Parlement of Paris and by the King’s prosecutors. The interrogators were concerned above all to determine if Damiens had accomplices and if so, what group was behind the attack. In this passage, Damiens testifies that his action had been prompted by "preachers of the Parlementary party," meaning... Read More »

Discussion between Gorbachev and Mitterand about Romania, July 1989

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The transcript of the Mitterrand – Gorbachev meeting of July 1989 illustrates the international awareness of the extensive control and repression of citizens in Ceauşescu’s Romania. Unlike his predecessors, Gorbachev was not in control of the Eastern block countries, nor the defender of communist orthodoxy; on the contrary, he had loosened state control over the economy and society, and had... Read More »

Ethnic Violence in Romania

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Following the fall of Nicolea Ceausescu's regime in December 1989, violence among the various ethnic groups in Romania noticeably increased. In particular, the Roma (colloquially, the Gypsies) were the target of violent persecutions throughout Romania during the spring and summer of 1990. With the escalation of ethnic violence in nearby Yugoslavia, human rights groups became actively concerned... Read More »

Etta Palm D’Aelders, "Discourse on the Injustice of the Laws in Favor of Men, at the Expense of Women" (30 December 1790)

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Like many female activists, the Dutch woman Etta Palm D’Aelders did not explicitly articulate a program for equal political rights for women, though that would no doubt have been her ultimate aim. Instead she worked to bring about a change in morals and customs that would in turn foster a more egalitarian atmosphere for women. She gave this address at a meeting of the Confederation of the... Read More »

Europe as a Common Home

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After gaining the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev set the Soviet Union on the path of reform with perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost' (openness). He had followed his domestic changes with a general arms reduction throughout Eastern Europe in 1988, extending the reach of his reforms. On 6 July 1989, in a speech made in front of the Parliamentary... Read More »

Excerpts from Debate Between Lech Walesa and Alfred Miodowicz, 30 November 1988

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In the fall of 1988, Alfred Miodowicz, the head of the official union OPZZ (All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions), challenged Lech Wałesa, the leader of the outlawed Solidarity trade union, to a televised debate. The offer signaled the growing willingness of many party leaders to compromise with opposition groups, but it was also a sign of the party’s continued self-confidence. Miodowicz, a... Read More »

Expelling the Turks from Bulgaria

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The ethnic Turks living in Bulgaria had faced discrimination throughout Bulgaria's history. In May 1989, there were a series of peaceful demonstrations staged by the Turkish minority; in some cases, entire villages joined the protests. They protested for the rights to have their Turkish names restored or to be able to receive an education free from discrimination. While each of these protests... Read More »

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