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Expulsion of the Girondins

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Throughout the spring of 1793, radicals in the Convention, in the Paris Commune, and in the sections struggled for power against Brissot and his allies, known as the "Girondins." They differed over how the Revolution should be affected by popular pressure. In late May, Robespierre proposed a motion that accused the Girondins of being a threat to the Republic and ordered their arrest. When the... Read More »

First Conversation between M.S. Gorbachev and Chancellor of FRG H. Kohl

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On June 12, 1989, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev began a four-day visit to West Germany, just two weeks after a similar visit to West Germany by United States President George H. W. Bush. Gorbachev had by the summer of 1989 become a popular figure and expectations were running high in West German society over the summit. From the Soviet Union's perspective, West Germany represented... Read More »

Friendly Working Visit with Poland

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In the summer of 1980, strikes erupted among workers in Poland, making Communist leaders throughout the Soviet bloc uneasy. The Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union met in October 1980 to discuss and endorse a report compiled by some of its members about a forthcoming visit of two Polish officials, Stanislaw Kania and Josef Pinkowski. In their discussions, they agreed... Read More »

From the Conversation of Mikhail Gorbachev and Francois Mitterand

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In the mid- to late 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on a new path for the Soviet Union by introducing significant changes to his country’s domestic and foreign policies, which eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev’s glasnost resulted in a crucial shift toward more open dialogue not only within the Soviet Union but also with... Read More »

Geremek on Solidarity’s Strategy of Restraint in the Spring of 1989

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A medieval historian by training, Bronisław Geremek had emerged by the 1980s as one of the Solidarity movement’s leading strategists. At the Round Table talks between Solidarity and the Communist leadership and in the critical months that followed, he was arguably Lech Wałęsa’s most influential advisor. In this interview, published in 1990, a young Solidarity-affiliated journalist asks Geremek... Read More »

Gorbachev discusses De-Militarization

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In the midst of a chaotic year of economic and political reforms, Communist Party General Secretary (and head of state) Mikhail Gorbachev addressed the politburo on the delicate issue of the Soviet military presence throughout Europe. Conventional Soviet military thinking was that any troop buildup by NATO countries must be met by tit-for-tat by the Warsaw Pact countries; to act otherwise was... Read More »

Gorbachev Discusses the Impact of Western Goods in the Eastern Bloc

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At a March 10, 1988, Politburo meeting, Mikhail Gorbachev (leader of the Soviet Union) delineated his concerns about the growing influence of Western goods on Eastern bloc countries. He recognized that there existed minimal economic trade within Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and indicated the importance of rebuilding trade within COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) to... Read More »

Gorbachev's TV Address on Interethnic Relations

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This statement is an effort by Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to recognize, but also restrain and control, growing evidence of nationalist sentiments across the Soviet Union. In this televised broadcast, Gorbachev focused on the possible negative implications of such sentiments, including threats to social order, conflict between ethnic groups, and chauvinist behavior. While... Read More »

Guenter Schabowski's Press Conference in the GDR International Press Center

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Günther Schabowski, the spokesman for the East German Communist Party Politburo, played a vital role in the toppling of the East German Communist government in the fall of 1989. During a press conference on November 9, 1989, a reporter asked him about new travel regulations issued by the government that seemed to indicate the possibility of easier travel into West Berlin through the Berlin... Read More »

Havel's Independence Day Address, 1990

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Every political upheaval is followed by a "morning after." In 1990, the new Czechoslovak President, Vaclav Havel, gave an important speech commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution (the end of Communism in his country). In addition to celebrating the tremendous achievement of growing democracy in his newly-independent country, Havel also added a note of caution with his... Read More »

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