In seeking to provide an answer to the question, “Was the spread of
Soviet-backed communism inevitable across Eastern Europe after 1945?,” I
would like to point to the words of a contemporary specialist. At the end of
World War II, R. R. Betts, the Masaryk Professor of Central European History
at London University, asserted that much of the “revolution in central and
eastern Europe” is “native and due to the efforts of the peoples and their
own leaders . . . [making it] “clear that even if the Soviet Union had not
been so near and so powerful, revolutionary changes would have come at the
end of so destructive and subversive a war as that which ended in 1945”
(Betts 212, in Mazower, 255). Though Betts points simply to the war and
native efforts as the essential impetus for radical solutions where many
points can be made implicating pre-war issues and outside intervention (or
lack thereof) in the same causal fashion, the thrust of his argument is what
I would like to echo in my paper. The radical situation following World War
II in Eastern Europe was untenable and called almost uniformly for a radical
solution. However, that the solution was necessarily Soviet-backed communism
is not fully supported by the facts. A radical solution? Yes.
Authoritarianism? Quite likely. Soviet-backed communism? Very probable,
but by no means inevitable.
While there is much evidence and scholarship to support the deterministic
viewpoint implied by the principal query, it seems a naïve view of history to
suggest that what happened absolutely could not have happened any other way.
To respond in kind to the simplistic discourse of ‘in...
... middle of paper ...
...ore or less might
not have found a marginally different path at some point along the way. An
argument of inevitability is not sufficient to understand the subtleties of
Betts, R. R. ed. Central and South East Europe, 1945-1948. London, 1949.
Lewis, Paul. Central Europe Since 1945. London: Longman, 1994.
Mazower, Mark. Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century. London: Penguin, 1999.
Roberts, Geoffrey. “Moscow and the Marshall Plan: Politics, Ideology and the
Onset of the Cold War, 1947” Europe-Asia Studies 46:8, Soviet and East
European History (1994), 1371-1386.
Rothschild, Joseph and Nancy M. Wingfield. Return to Diversity: A Political
History of East Central Europe since World War II. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP,
Swain, Geoffrey and Nigel Swain. Eastern Europe Since 1945. 2nd ed. London:
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