Browse Primary Sources

Expelling the Turks from Bulgaria

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.

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The Warsaw Pact

Following the final approval of the Paris Peace Treaties that ended World War II, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) planned to incorporate the new state of West Germany into their military alliance in the spring of 1955. From the Soviet perspective, this was another aggressive military maneuver.

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An Emerging Environmental Movement

In 1984, the Czechoslovak and Hungarian governments announced a new public project: the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros complex on the Danube River, a 3 billion dollar water project, that would involve the construction of two massive dams (one in each country) and a series of hydroelectric plants. In response to this action, an environmental activist group emerged, later called Duna Kör or Danube Circle.

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The Campaign to Save the Danube River

In 1984, the Czechoslovak and Hungarian governments announced a new public project: the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros complex on the Danube River, a 3 billion dollar water project, that would involve the construction of two massive dams (one in each country) and a series of hydroelectric plants.

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Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany

At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation, with each being overseen by one of the Allied powers: the U.S., Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.

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Rude Pravo, Central Committee Meeting

In 1978, one year after the creation of Charter '77, Vaclav Havel wrote his famous essay, "The Power of the Powerless." In it he argued that the countries of the East Bloc were under the rule of post-totalitarian regimes that appealed to popular desires for consumer goods, in order to secure domination over their populations. Indeed, these governments did make consumerist appeals.

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Samizdat, Air Pollution

Pollution from the Black Triangle was a tremendous source of water and air pollution in Eastern Europe, but it was not the only source. Heating systems that relied on coal power, and cars using leaded gas and lacking catalytic converters added to this immense problem, which especially plagued larger cities, including Prague.

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Rude Pravo, Water Pollution

Nestled in the very heart of Central Europe is a region that has come to be known as the Black Triangle. It contains land surrounding where the borders of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany meet. This large tri-state area is rich with natural resources, including lignite, iron ores, and uranium.

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Prace, Health

Following World War II, the peoples of Eastern Europe not only had increased access to affordable, hygienic housing, they also had improved access to health care. Still, like the new housing opportunities, the new health care offerings were limited in quantity and quality, and other everyday life changes conspired to test their efficacy.

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Rudé Pravo Alcohol and Cigarette Abuse

Alcohol and cigarette consumption were very regular parts of everyday life for great numbers of Eastern Europeans, including youth, during the Cold War era. In fact, these countries had some of the highest alcoholism rates in the world and a very large percentage of the population smoked.

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