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History

Soviet power in Eastern Europe

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What was Churchill talking about when he mentioned an 'Iron Curtain!' in his speech at Fulton, Missouri in 1946? This Revision Bite will help you understand how Eastern Europe fell to Communism and became allied to Stalinist Russia.

Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe

map of central Europe showing the communist buffer zone

Communist countries are shown in green

Enlarge image

Twenty million Russians died during the Second World War, so Stalin said he wanted a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia to make sure that Russia could never be invaded again.

Stalin was planning the takeover of Eastern Europe. During the war, Communists from the occupied countries of Eastern Europe escaped to Moscow and set up Communist governments in exile there. As the Red Army [Red Army: The Russian army. ] drove the Nazis back, it occupied large areas of Eastern Europe and Churchill in the so-called percentages agreement - agreed that Eastern Europe could be a Soviet "sphere of influence".

In the countries that the Red Army "liberated", communist-dominated governments took power. The Communists made sure that they controlled the army, set up a secret police force, and began to arrest their opponents. Non-Communists were gradually beaten, murdered, executed and terrified out of power. By 1949, all the governments of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia, were hard line Stalinist regimes.

In 1946, in a speech at Fulton in the USA, Churchill declared that an Iron Curtain had come down across Europe, and that Soviet power was growing and had to be stopped. Stalin called Churchill's speech a "declaration of war". In 1947, Stalin set up Comintern - an alliance of Communist countries designed to make sure they obeyed Soviet rule.

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