Berlin Embassy Cable, GDR Crisis: The Honecker Era Fades Quickly


In this excerpt of a diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, we see the first official analysis of East Germany's new leader Egon Krenz, who replaced Erich Honecker on October 18, 1989. In the summary remarks, the embassy officials make clear that Krenz is attempting immediate reform, but not yet on a scale that could be compared to Gorbachev's perestroika.

The U.S. diplomats... Read More »

Berlin Embassy Cable, GDR Political Crisis: Still Deepening. October 6, 1989


The level of unrest in East Germany had been increasing throughout the summer of 1989 and a major focal point of concern for both the East German security forces and international observers concerned the very prominent visit of Mikhail Gorbachev to attend the GDR's 40th anniversary celebrations. This cable sheds light not only on the events leading up to Gorbachev's visit, but also on the West... Read More »

Berlin Embassy Cable, The GDR Political Crisis: Still Deepening. October 4, 1989


On the eve of East Germany fortieth anniversary celebrations, it appeared that the SED was losing control. Several pressure points in society were mounting at the same time. In Prague, East German citizens had jumped over the walls into the West German embassy and the East German regime had negotiated their safe passage to West Germany planned for October 4. The outcome of the crisis in Prague... Read More »

Biblioteca Digital Hispánica (Hispanic Digital Library)

...the Biblioteca Digital Hispánica is a well-organized, highly searchable, and remarkable platform for a wide audience, including instructors, students, researchers, and the general public. Historians interested in Spain’s cross-cultural encounters in Europe, Asia, and the Americas will particularly benefit from this resource.

Bonn Embassy cable, The German Question and Reunification


As events in Eastern Europe and especially in East Germany continued to pick up the pace, speculation began to grow, both within the two Germanies and internationally, that German reunification was once again a topic for debate. The West European had already speculated that West Germany might abandon its commitment to NATO and the European Community in favor of reunification. West German... Read More »

Long Teaching Module: Solidarity Comes to Power in Poland, 1989


In retrospect, it seems predictable that the first opposition group in the Soviet bloc to succeed in unseating a communist regime would be Poland’s Solidarity movement. Discontent with economic hardships and the suppression of civil liberties had long been evident in Poland, erupting in workplace unrest and mass protests more frequently than anywhere else in Eastern Europe: 1956, 1968, 1970,... Read More »

Moscow Embassy Cable, If Solidarity Takes Charge, What Will the Soviets Do?


In June 1989, Poland held its first semi-free elections in which the Communist Party was overwhelmingly defeated by opposition leaders. Following the election, U.S. officials were elated about the prospects of democratization in Poland as well as concerned about the potential response from the Soviet Union. Historically, Soviet officials had taken tremendous actions in Eastern Europe, even... Read More »

Official Romanian Version of December Events


This telegram from the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sent on December 19, comes two days after the shooting of demonstrators in Timisoara and informs Romanian ambassadors abroad of the government's official position on the crisis and how they should handle questions from their foreign hosts about the "so-called events" taking place in their country. Ambassadors were instructed to deny... Read More »

On Lech Walesa's Trip to Italy


In January 1981, Lech Walesa, leader of the Solidarity Movement in Poland, along with other participants in the opposition, traveled to Italy. In response to this visit, the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union sent a telegram to the Soviet ambassador in Italy instructing him on how to handle the visitors. The instructions advised the ambassador to meet with the leader... Read More »

Prague Embassy cable, American Woman's Account of November 17 Demonstration and the Death of a Czech Student


The experience of November 17 is difficult to recapture in all its intensity and chaos. But this testimony from an American eyewitness evokes the atmosphere. Although the story comes second-hand through this November 20 U.S. embassy cable, we can still sense the trauma of that night in the description of fleeing demonstrators forced through a police "gauntlet". November 17 was the first... Read More »