Browse Primary Sources

Celebrating Soviet Achievements in the 1980s

Soviet authorities valued posters as a most accessible form of propaganda with origins in the early days of the Communist Revolution as a way of reaching out to an illiterate audience. Throughout Soviet history, posters remained a visible indication of the Party's official interests.

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US-Soviet Summit in Washington, DC

In December 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in Washington, DC. The treaty eliminated both nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic missiles with a range of 300-3,400 miles. This was a major achievement in terms of reducing the military build-up in each of these Cold War superpowers.

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Spy Radio from East Germany

These images depict a small transistor radio of the type a resident of Berlin might own during the 1960s or 1970s. What is not apparent when the radio is closed is that it is actually a communications device used by agents of the East German state police, the Stasi, who crossed into (or lived in) West Berlin to communicate with their officers across the Berlin Wall in East Berlin.

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Political Cartoon from East Germany

Twenty-eight years I've had to wait for this day, eh!

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East German Political Cartoon

This cartoon from the East German weekly magazine Eulenspiegel (a weekly magazine of humor and satire), is poking fun at the possibility of German reunification. Once the Berlin Wall was torn down, unification became the goal of most (but not all) Germans on both sides of the border.

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Solidarity Election Flier, “How to vote for Solidarity in Żoliborz”

The flier above, directed at voters in the town of Żoliborz, illustrates the complexity of the elections held on June 4, 1989.

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Papal Visit of 1987

When Pope John Paul II arrived in Warsaw during his 1987 "pilgrimage" he drove from the airport to the Primate's palace. A huge crowd turned out to greet him and flowers were laid out along the street that he was scheduled to travel. This pattern was repeated throughout his visit, wherever he went.

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Tessek Valasztani

This is one of many posters used during the 1990 Hungarian election by new political parties to differentiate themselves from the Communist Party. Here, voters are asked to "choose" between two different types of kisses. The poster was used by the party Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats).

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Reagan at the Berlin Wall

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan gave an historic speech to the people of Berlin. It was here that Reagan spoke the famous phrase: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

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