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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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End of the Cold War

This is a collection of primary source documents covering the collapse of the Soviet Union during the late 1980s. The collection contains documents from archives in most of the former Soviet bloc countries. They discuss the changes occurring in Eastern Europe and the Tiananmen Square events in China. See also Cold War Origins. (Image, East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin Wall, 1989)

  • January 20, 1989

    Letter from A. Stelmachowski to Lech Walesa

    Letter from A. Stelmachowski to Lech Walesa suggesting more open Union structures and advocating a small body of representatives to take part in the Roundtable discussions

  • January 21, 1989

    Anatoly Chernyaev’s Notes from the Politburo Session

    Anatoly Chernyaev’s notes from the Politburo session on comments by Gorbachev on his meeting with the Trilateral Commission regarding the integration of the Soviet Union into the world economy and the possibility of a united Europe

  • January 23, 1989

    Record of Telephone Conversation Between M. S. Gorbachev and President of the United States George Bush

    Notes from a phone conversation between President George H.W. Bush and Gorbachev regarding Henry Kissinger's recent visit with Gorbachev.

  • January 31, 1989

    Minutes of the Meeting of the HSWP CC Political Committee

    Minutes of the meeting of the HSWP CC Political Committee on the Historical Subcommittee of the Central Committee’s description of the events of 1956 as a people’s uprising rather than a counterrevolution. Editor's note: On 23 June 1988, the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party Central Committee established a committee to analyze Hungary’s political, economic and social development during the preceding thirty years. The panel, headed by Imre Pozsgay, 5 a politburo member and minister of state, included party officials and social scientists. After several months of examining pertinent archival documents, the Historical Subcommittee (one of four working groups) completed and discussed its final report at its meeting on 27 January 1989. Most sensationally, the report described what occurred in 1956 in Hungary as not a “counterrevolution” (as Moscow and the regime it installed in Budapest headed by János Kádár had long insisted) but a people’s uprising. This very point was announced by Imre Pozsgay in an interview on both the morning news program and the next day, on the most popular political journal of Hungarian Radio, “168 hours,” without any prior consultation with the political leadership. The issue triggered a serious crisis in the Party and eventually served as a very important catalyst in the transition process. The following excerpt reflects the first reaction of the Politburo members. (EXCERPT)

  • February, 1989

    Cable from the US Embassy in Moscow to Secretary of State for General Scowcroft, 'The Soviet Union Over the Next Four Years'

    Predictions about the next four years in the Soviet Union's evolving political and cultural landscape, including that internal protests against perestroika will dominate the focus of Soviet leadership, that perestroika and its attendant backlash will in turn redistribute funds away from military spending, and that ultimately, these and other conflicts and pressures will promulgate the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  • February, 1989

    Cable from the US Embassy in Moscow to the Secretary of State, 'US-Soviet Relations: Policy Opportunities'

    Approaches to take advantage of the evolving political landscape in the Soviet Union to leverage and promote US interests via Soviet policy proposals.

  • February, 1989

    Memorandum from the International Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU to Alexander Yakovlev

    Memorandum from the International Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU to Alexander Yakovlev regarding Soviet relations with European socialist countries during the transitional period for Eastern European countries

  • February, 1989

    Memorandum to Alexander Yakovlev from the Bogomolov Commission (Marina Sylvanskaya)

    Memorandum to Alexander Yakovlev from the Bogomolov Commission (Marina Sylvanskaya) describing the changes in individual Eastern European countries and their impact on the Soviet Union

  • February 12, 1989

    Letter from Andrzej Slowik to Roundtable Chair Wladyslaw Findeisen

    Letter from Andrzej Slowik to “Roundtable” Chair Wladyslaw Findeisen asking for diversification and expansion of the Roundtable group even if it leads to difficulties in negotiations, since it would permit wider societal acceptance of decisions

  • February 24, 1989

    The Political Processes in the European Socialist Countries and the Proposals for Our Practical Steps Considering the Situation Which Has Arisen in Them

    “The Political Processes in the European Socialist Countries and the Proposals for Our Practical Steps Considering the Situation Which Has Arisen in Them” – an evaluation by the Soviet Union of changes in the Eastern European countries and measures that need to be taken in order to maintain ties with these countries

  • February 25, 1989

    Papers of the Working Group of the National Commission of NSZZ 'Solidarity'

    Papers of the Working Group of the National Commission of NSZZ “Solidarity,” regarding the format for the continuation of the Solidarity movement – whether it be relegalized or legalized, as well as discussion on the position of workers’ self-government

  • March 03, 1989

    Record of Conversation Between M.S. Gorbachev and Member of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, Chairman of Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary Miklos Nemeth

    Conversation between Gorbachev and Nemeth regarding the priorities of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party.

  • March 03, 1989

    Record of Conversation Between M.S. Gorbachev and Member of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Part, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary M. Nemeth

    Conversation between Gorbachev and Miklos Nemeth about protecting Hungarian borders, Hungary's decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, and the Soviet Union's potential normalization of relations with Israel.

  • March 03, 1989

    Record of Conversation between President M. S. Gorbachev and Miklós Németh 12 , Member of the HSWP CC Politburo, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary

    Record of Conversation between President M. S. Gorbachev and Miklós Németh 12 , Member of the HSWP CC Politburo, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary regarding the establishment of a multiparty system in Hungary

  • March 21, 1989

    Transcript of the Discussions at the Meeting of the Working Group on the Peace Treaty, Tokyo

    Transcript of the discussions at the meeting of the Working Group on the Peace Treaty, Tokyo, regarding ownership of the Kurile islands and Japanese and Soviet claims of these islands

  • March 23, 1989

    Bulgarian Secretariat Resolution on Termination of Jamming of Foreign Broadcasts for Bulgaria

    The BCP CC passes a decision to stop jamming the broadcast of Western radio stations airing programs in Bulgarian. This decision however does not apply to Radio Ankara, whose Bulgarian programming continues to be blocked.

  • March 24, 1989

    Conversation between M.S. Gorbachev and Karoly Grosz, General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, March 23-24, 1989

    These conversations reveal Gorbachev’s contradictions, as the Soviet leader proclaims again that the Brezhnev doctrine is dead and military interventions should be "precluded in the future, yet at the same time, tries to set "boundaries" for the changes in Eastern Europe as "the safekeeping of socialism and assurance of stability."

  • March 29, 1989

    Memorandum of Conversation between M.S. Gorbachev and HSWP General Secretary Károly Grósz,14, Moscow

    Memorandum of Conversation between M.S. Gorbachev and HSWP General Secretary Károly Grósz, discussing how to define the events of 1956 and the extent of political transition in Hungary

  • April, 1989

    Central Intelligence Agency, 'Rising Political Instability Under Gorbachev: Understanding the Problem and Prospects for Resolution: An Intelligence Assessment'

    An analysis of the mounting dysfunction and political instability within the Soviet Union.

  • April 01, 1989

    Report of Vadim Zagladin on his conversation with Chairman of the Czechoslovak Association for U.N., Deputy Chairman of the Committee for European Security, Jan Pudlak

    Vadim Zagladin's report of his conversation with Jan Pudlak about Czechoslovakia's political opposition and strife within the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.