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Prague Embassy cable, November 21 Morning Demonstration At Wenceslas Square: Overheard Conversations

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Just a week before the Velvet Revolution began, it was smarter to look for public opinion in a family kitchen rather than on a city sidewalk. People still monitored what they said outside their homes. By November 21, the squares in Prague were becoming open forums. This embassy report described the "word on the streets" overheard by an American official's spouse that day on Wenceslas Square.... Read More »

President Bush and Chancellor Kohl discuss Eastern Europe

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The fall of 1989 was a turbulent one. A new reform-oriented government had been elected in Poland, new elections were scheduled in Hungary, and East Germany had a new leader, Egon Krenz, who was speaking openly about reforms in the GDR (German Democratic Republic, also known as East Germany). In this telephone conversation, U.S. President George H. W. Bush discusses the situation in Poland,... Read More »

President Bush and Chancellor Kohl Make Remarks on German Unification

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West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and U.S. President George H. W. Bush kept in close contact throughout the period between the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and Germany's unification on October 3, 1990. The process of German unification was complicated by the fact that there was never an official treaty ending World War II. Thus, the four victorious powers (France, the United... Read More »

President Bush and Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki of Poland Trade Toasts

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Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a founder of Solidarity, who became Poland’s first noncommunist prime minister in forty years, visited Washington for three days of meetings in March 1990 as European and American diplomats were engrossed in negotiations to devise a plan for German reunification that would be acceptable to all nations involved. The Polish government feared that a powerful reunited Germany... Read More »

President Bush Comments on the Relaxation of East German Border Controls

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Soon after President George H. W. Bush learned the news that the Berlin Wall had opened allowing East Germans to crossover into West Berlin, his press secretary convened an impromptu press conference in the Oval Office. Bush’s wary responses to reporters’ questions, included in the excerpt below, left an impression that he was less than moved by the historic event. The Washington Post noted... Read More »

President Bush Grants Hungary Most-Favored-Nation Trade Status

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In July 1989, President George H. W. Bush visited Poland and Hungary, the two countries in Eastern Europe in which substantial political and economic reforms seemed most likely to occur first. Pursuing a new US policy he referred to as “beyond containment,” Bush wished to show US support for a movement toward the integration of Eastern Europe into the “community of nations.” During a speech on... Read More »

President Bush's Interview with Polish Journalists

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During the spring of 1989, the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union, George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, issued contrasting visions for the future of Europe. In a series of speeches during April and May, Bush called for a Europe “whole and free” and envisioned a shift “beyond containment,” the fundamental strategy of preventing Soviet expansion that had guided US strategic... Read More »

President Bush's Remarks at a Symposium on Eastern Europe

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In July 1989, President George H. W. Bush visited Poland and Hungary, the two countries in Eastern Europe in which substantial political and economic reform seemed most likely to occur first. In a series of speeches during the spring, Bush had set out his hope for a Europe “whole and free.” In April, at Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit heavily populated by Polish-Americans, Bush had... Read More »

President Bush's Remarks at the Solidarity Workers Monument

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President George H. W. Bush visited Poland and Hungary in July 1989 after June elections in which Solidarity candidates won 160 of the 161 seats in the Sejm that were available to them and 92 of the 100 seats of the Polish Senate. In addition, many leaders of the Communist Party failed to secure enough votes to be elected to the parliament they had controlled for four decades. Pursuing a new... Read More »

President Bush's Remarks in Warsaw, July 9, 1989

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President George H. W. Bush visited Poland and Hungary in July 1989 after June elections in which Solidarity candidates won 160 of the 161 seats in the Sejm that were available to them and 92 of the 100 seats of the Polish Senate. In addition, many leaders of the Communist Party failed to secure enough votes to be elected to the parliament they had controlled for four decades. In the following... Read More »

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