A comparison of communist countries allows the researchers to have a better understanding of the effects of communism and the knowledge help approach interviews more effectively.
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“The comparison is fantastic on various levels. Primary level is the violence at the very end of the regime whereas the Czechoslovak is closely bound to the ideology of non-violence and brotherhood” [….] “We don’t have to compare only violence and nonviolence, not only civil rights and religions rights but also can compare things like drug culture and everyday life. But this is something we have to do now” (Dr Michal Pullman [Contemporary History Lecturer at the Charles University, Faculty of Arts] in response to a question on the comparison between Romania and Czechoslovakia)
However during the interviews others felt it was too vast a subject and to do a comparison would be difficult because of several factors such as the size of the countries, and the population “So I agree that those regimes, there were some common features based on ideology. Communist ideology was definitely more universal”[…..] I think to find parallels and differences is a good thing, but it’s not so easy to say Czechoslovakia was like Poland and was different to Romania.” (Dr. Oldrich Tuma)
Quick overview of some Eastern Bloc communist countries
|Czechoslovakia1948 – 1989||Democratically elected||HistoricalModernismCubism||Jan 1968 Prague SpringNov-Dec 1989 Velvet Revolution|
|Romania1947 – 1989||Falsified election results||Communist-influencedPower related||Romanian Revolution (series of riots and protests in Romania in December 1989|
|Bulgaria1946 – 1990||Coup d’etat on existing government||Principles of Totalitarian architecture, representativeness and impressiveness, were combined with classical architectural forms i.e. hotel “Balkan”, the Central Shopping Mall, the Communist Party Building||October 1989 Enviromental demonstration in Sofia|
|Poland1947 – 1989||Rigged election results||April – September 1988 (Fall of Communism strike)|
|Hungary 1949 – 1989||Soviet intervention allowed communist control after coalition government had been formed.||Oct-Nov 1956 uprising|
“I think everyone was a victim of the communist regime. Even the communists were victims of the regime; their life was deformed by it; they had to lie, they had to muddle through it. So I think that just for numbers of repressions…repressions based on imprisonment and executions, perhaps Czechoslovakia is not such an exception if compared to Hungary or Eastern Germany” (Dr Oldrich Tuma –Director of Institute of contemporary study)
In Poland, repressions affected up to 400, 000 people. During 1944-1953, military courts sentenced 70,097 people for crimes against the state (any alleged anti-regime activity or sentiment). 20,000 prisoners died due to harsh condition in prisons. Furthermore, 6,000,000 Polish citizens were classified as suspected members of a “reactionary or criminal element” and subjected to investigation by state agencies. The repressions were meant to scare the common people and get rid of any anti-communist opponents. Often the accusations and sentences were exaggerated or fabricated to speed up the process.
In Bulgaria those who didn’t adhere to the strict Soviet policies were marginalised and denied access to educational, personal and job opportunities. All religious activity was severely restricted or banned apart from the which later became infiltrated by communist activities. Over 90 000 dissidents were eliminated via expulsions, arrests and killings between 1948-49.
Hungary had the harshest dictatorship in Europe with over 50 000 women & girls raped. Approximately 350,000 Hungarian officials and intellectuals were removed from 1948 to 1956. Were many were arrested, tortured, imprisoned in concentration camps or were executed.
“Even in Czechoslovakia it is hard to say how many victims of the communist regime were…. We know exactly something like 250 people got sentenced to get executed for political reasons… it’s not such a great number” (Dr Michal Pullman – Contemporary History Lecturer at the Charles University, Faculty of Arts))
Exile prisons such as the one in Pitesti, Romania were created to re-educate their political prisoners using violent and degrading methods known today as ‘the Pitesti Phenomenon’.