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Soviet Union’s Suppression of the Eastern Europe Uprisings Research Paper


One of the principal concerns of international relations entails the need to foster the growth of the spirit of nationalism while protecting national territorial integrity. As a result, any differences between nations do not result in global conflicts. As witnessed in the case of Soviet Union’s influence in Eastern Europe, some nations did not cede from seeking to maintain their power to control other countries in the world after the Second World War. In fact, as Kirchner and Dominquez (2011) assert, while advancing the concerns of international relations, harnessing diverse perspectives of nationalism held by people from different nations was critical soon after the end of the Second World War. This research argues that the discourse of international relations is instrumental in understanding experiences such as the Soviet Union’s suppression of the uprisings in Eastern Europe after 1945.

The Second World War left the Soviet Union victorious. However, its economy was enormously negatively affected. Its largest segment of agricultural and industrial output was significantly affected compared to the post-war period. In the effort to rebuild the war-torn nation, the Soviet government accepted limited support from Sweden and Britain. Nevertheless, it turned down any US support that had been proposed through the Marshall plan. The Soviet Union feared that such support would undermine its territorial integrity while eroding its strong spirit of nationalism that had been acquired through Second World War victory. Thus, as the research reveals, the Soviet Union’s suppression of the uprisings in Eastern Europe after 1945 was part of a strategy for ensuring a steady flow of raw materials and the necessary machinery for rebuilding the nations after 1945 consistent with its spirit of nationalism.

Objectives of the Research

The discourse of international relations underlines the necessity of nations to live without animosity. It emphasises the need to foster peaceful coexistence. Hence, any regime that engages in the oppression of other nations or acts that erode the territorial integrity of a particular group of people is inconsistent with the concerns of international relations. Using the case of the suppression of the uprisings in Soviet Union’s occupied territories in Eastern Europe after 1945, the current research seeks to achieve two objectives. The first objective is to discuss the experiences of the uprisings in the Eastern Europe under occupation by the Soviet Union after 1945. The goal is to understand the gains of the Soviet Union following such oppression, especially in helping to rebuild the devastatingly destroyed nation following the Second World War. The second objective extends from the first objective. It focuses on whether the gains or the reason for occupation had any meaningful connection with concerns such as nationalism as advanced through the discourse of international relations.

Research Question

Research projects have research questions as their core foundation. Indeed, all aspects of research projects such as research methodology, mechanisms for analysis, data collection, and even reporting are dependent on the research question, which begins with the identification of the problem under study. The current international relations study project argues that the suppression of an uprising based on the motives of the oppressed by occupying a state may be inconsistent with the concerns of international relations. Therefore, the containment of the uprising in Eastern Europe after 1945 by the Soviet Union is an important problem that may be analysed in the context of the discourse of international relations with reference to the goal of ensuring peaceful coexistence between nations. In line with the aforementioned objectives, this discussion narrows to the research question: Why did the Soviet Union suppress the uprisings in Eastern Europe after 1945? This question is answered through an intensive literature review as the main research methodology.

Literature Review

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact provided support to the USSR expansionist policy from 1939 to 1940. Soviet authorities were quick to initiate a campaign for the Sovietilisation of all annexed areas assigned to it under the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty. It sought to make agriculture a collective endeavour (Roberts 2006). It also nationalised and distributed property owned by authorities in eastern European’s occupied territories such as Poland (Roberts 2006). While taking note of the invasion of Soviet Union by the West and Russia, Stalin, the USSR ruler during the 1929-1953 period, had a clear resolution of creating buffer zones in East Europe. The Red Army had occupied these areas after 1946 (Wettig 2008). Indeed, the authors note while ‘taking advantage of its military occupation of these countries, the Soviet Union actively assisted local communist parties in coming to power’ (Wettig 2008, p.91). This influence was so high to the extent that by the end of 1948, seven nations in the East Europe bloc already had working communist governments in place. Hence, Soviet Union had managed to instil its nationalist principle of communism in these blocs. Hence, any uprising that opposed this Soviet Union’s nationalist principle suffered the risk of facing intense suppression.

Beginning from 1945, the erosion of Soviet Union’s nationalist paradigm of communalism in Eastern Europe’s occupied territories by various uprisings was a critical concern that led to the suppression of the uprisings. In fact, nationalism is an important aspect of international relations that may contribute to a peaceful coexistence of nations or people within a nation. The term international relations is deployed to mean collective interaction that prevails between international communities. These communities include nations, individuals, and even states (Nau 2008). The discourse of international relations is advanced from two main theoretical paradigms, namely, post-positivist and positivist perspectives. The positivist theories attempt to look into the manner in which the relations between nations are established based on the role that material forces play in shaping the animosity between nations (Roskin & Nicholas 2009). In the analysis of the suppression of the Eastern European upspring, this paradigm is important since the Soviet Union was able to exercise its control analogous to its military capability. Therefore, its communalist nationalist perspective prevailed.

Post-positivist paradigm argues that a social science world is impossible to study from a value-free and objective approach. To this extent, the post-positivists nullify the perception and ideas that liberalist ideologies such as rational choice theory can exhaustively be used to explain the international relations (Mingst, Ivan & Arreguín 2010). The implication of this argument is that scientific methodologies are inadequate and/or cannot be used entirely to provide an explanation of the social world. Therefore, international relations science is impossible. Consequently, it is imperative to note that communalist perspective shaped the nationalism of Soviet Union in terms of how, why, and who exercises power on the uprisings in Eastern Europe. A similar perspective is offered by positivist paradigm through its sub–theoretical facets such as neo-realism. These aspects are the main subjects of the post-positivist theoretical paradigm approach to international relations (Nau 2008).

The commitment of people to particular nation’s agenda defines their deeply ingrained social creed and political ideology (Heywood 2000). Any opposition to such ideological perceptions and affiliations may explain the suppression of the uprisings that were in conflict with communalism in the Eastern Europe after 1945. Hence, the chief reason for the suppression of the uprisings from 1945 may be argued as an attempt to fight for the Soviet nationalism. In the analysis of reasons why the Soviet Union suppressed uprisings in Eastern Europe after 1945, looking at the Soviet Union’s nationalism from the point of international relations, primodialist is also important. From the primodialist paradigm, nationalism is principally a depiction of the perceived and ancient evolutionary ability of people to organise themselves into different groups that are peculiarly defined by a particular affinity (Motyl 2001). In this context, both Soviet Union’s occupational regime and the members of the uprisings in the Eastern Europe were organised in terms of the acceptable systems of governance.

In 1939, the USSR finalised a treaty with the Nazi regime. The agreement advocated for non-aggression. However, afterwards, Nazi attacked Poland. The USSR also endeavoured to secure a share of Poland. This experience precipitated the emergence of the Second World War. Indeed, Saxonberg (2001, p.47) asserts, ‘Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were occupied (1940) by the Soviet Union, and in mid-1940 were transformed into constituent republics of the USSR’. An attempt by the Soviet Union to invade Finland was encountered with heavy resistance. However, the 1939 to 1940 war between Finland and the union left the USSR victorious, thus heralding its clear control of Finland. Indeed, in all controlled territories, the USSR introduced communalism. Considering that this system was not dominant in the occupied territories, the uprisings endeavoured to oppose this new governance approach. Since the USSR had already established control over various regions in Eastern Europe, it exerted its authority over the uprisings to remain compliant to the sources of the occupier nation’s nationalism.

People defend geographical regions in which they perceive that the whole society they associate with was born. Hence, regime occupiers who believe they have the responsibility and the right to keep and run their occupied territories have no option rather than to suppress any uprising that challenges the status quo. Any endeavour to defend Eastern Europe from Soviet Union’s foreign intrusion for material gain or any other interest was an incredible catalyst for the rise of uprisings (Saxonberg 2001). This argument introduces an important perspective in the discussion of reasons why the Soviet Union suppressed uprisings in the occupied territories in Eastern Europe after 1945.

The war between the USSR and Berlin led to an immense loss of material and human life (Myant & Drahokoupil 2010). Agricultural production capacity was negatively impaired. Hence, the USSR developed total dependency on the Eastern Europe to support its economy. The Soviet Union’s industrial production threshold was also highly negatively impaired. Therefore, it depended heavily on machinery and materials derived from Eastern Europe in the reconstruction process after the end of the Second World War. Hence, any uprising that resisted the continuous flow of materials in Eastern Europe was met with heavy resistance from the Soviet Union.

Detlef and Wielgohs (2004) describe the materialistic interests of the Soviet Union in its suppression of any uprising, whether a political party or a civil society. They argue that the Soviet Union was highly interested in any form of organised groups (Detlef & Wielgohs 2004). In all encounters with the Soviet Union, organised groups (currently known as civil societies) were repressed. Arguably, this move was adopted to ensure that they would not initiate any form of resistance towards the Soviet Union’s materialistic interests in all occupied territories in Eastern Europe after 1945. Roberts (2006) insists that Stalin had immense mercantile interest. He ensured that German factories in Eastern Europe were deported to the Soviet Union. The author supports this assertion by noting, the Soviet Union literally occupied, packed up, and shipped out of Eastern Germany, out of much of Hungary and indeed much of Poland, which was not well known at the time, factories, train tracks, horses, and cattle’ (Roberts 2006, p.56). Hence, every material good was extracted from the occupied territory in Eastern Europe and shipped to the Soviet Union. Therefore, any uprising that sought to challenge the material deportation interest of Stalin was subject to suppression.

The Soviet Union struggled to ensure that its influence reached the western part of Europe. This motive was implemented consistently with the creation of homogeneous states. Homogeneity was acquired through ethnic cleansing. Millions of certain races were physically transferred from one region to another by means such as trains. For example, through the policy, ‘millions of Germans physically had to be removed and replaced by Poles or the Sudetenland replaced by Czechs and Slovaks’ (Harrison 2011, p.103). Ethnic cleansing was so popular among the communists to the extent that it was not considered a suppression of the affected ethnic communities.

The case of deportation of Germans in Eastern Europe was considered an immense success for the communist parties. The success was celebrated amid the activity being accomplished through some brutal ways that were dominated by cruelty while not negating the fact that it was unfair in many situations. For example, Germans in Eastern Europe who had collaborated in the Polish resistance were also mass transferred alongside those who supported the Nazis. Hence, the suppression of uprisings in Eastern Europe was not only driven by materialistic motives, but also by the need to create homogeneity in the distribution of ethnic communities.


The literature review section suggests that the Soviet Union had a strong conviction on the importance of instilling communalism not only in the occupied territories in Eastern Europe but also at home. It wanted its influence to be felt in all places that it ruled and even in new territories that it endeavoured to secure. After 1945, other equally powerful nations had their systems of governance that they also strongly believed were right. For example, the USA had already installed a democratic system that embraced capitalism (Gretchen 2012).

It was argued in the literature review that issues such as material deportation from the occupied Eastern Europe territories back to the Soviet Union to boost its industrial growth were among the important reasons for the suppression of uprisings in Eastern Europe. However, considering that mass deportation of people to guarantee ethnic cleansing was another policy that was widely pursued by Soviet communists in the occupied territories, materialistic concerns cannot solely explain the suppression of the uprisings in Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union. Rather, an alternative pedagogy such as nationalism can help to capture all crucial concerns that led the Soviet Union to suppress uprisings in Eastern Europe after 1945.

A peaceful coexistence between the Soviet Union and people in the occupied territories was limited to the extent that the individuals did not resist or object the Soviet Union’s communalist system of administration, its policies such as ethnic cleansing and mass transfer of materials, and industries back home. Hence, peace only existed in compliance with the principles under which the Soviet Union operated. Such principles define the nationalist aspect that is critical for peaceful coexistence between states and people within a country as advanced in the discourse of international relations (Anderson 2003; Heywood 2000). As evidenced in the literature review, the conception of people’s nationalism (in this case, the Soviet nationalism exercised in the occupied territories in Eastern Europe) is based on the universal acceptance of various groups or individual levels that promote common interest and national identity.

The first level entails the inter-group stage where ‘humans respond to competition or conflict by organising groups to either attack others or defend their assembly from hostile parties’ (Motyl 2001, p.18). The Soviet Union clearly defended its communalist position by treating organised groups that could otherwise challenge its ideological positions implemented in all occupied territories in Eastern Europe. In this context, ethnic cleansing objected to guarantee the homogeneity of people for the ideological position that the Soviet Union deployed to define its nationalism to be implemented easily without resistance. The cleansing would make control and governance through communalism easier.

In the second level, namely, the intra-group stage, different persons can acquire competitive advantage via cooperating with other people to secure goods that can only be accessed through combined effort. Intervening in such cooperation raises the animosity between nations because a nation would define the intra-group coming together to develop collectively (Breslin 2011; Beeson & Broome 2010). In the last level, namely, the individual level, ‘self-interested concerns over personal fitness by individuals either consciously or subconsciously motivate the creation of group as a means of security’ (Motyl 2001, p.18). Attempts to dismantle the formed groups solicit the need to defend them from being disintegrated. The Soviet Union put energy to ensure that its influence would not be disintegrated. The need to retain its influence perhaps explains well why it collectively cleansed ethnic communities, including the Germans who collaborated with it in Poland.


The Soviet Union was not ready to permit the emergence of any groups or subgroups that would challenge its ideological positions in Eastern Europe. Such unpreparedness was anchored strongly on its nationalism that was defined by communalist perspectives. Nationalism is an important theoretical paradigm developed in the discourses of international relations. Hence, considering the case of the suppression of Eastern Europe’s uprisings by the Soviet Union, it sounds imperative to infer that nationalism cannot be separated from international relations discourses. Indeed, the paper holds that the sources of Soviet Union’s nationalism are critical in analysing the motives towards the Soviet Union’s suppression of uprisings in Eastern Europe after 1945. This assertion stems from the fact that the suppression was anchored on the need to enforce a certain ideological position that asserted the Soviet Union’s way of thinking and interpretation of systems of governance. Points of disagreement would emerge where the enforced ideology failed to correspond to that of the people who occupied the territories of Eastern Europe.

Reference List

Anderson, B 2003, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, Verso, New York City.

Beeson, M & Broome, A 2010, ‘Hegemonic instability and East Asia: Contradictions, crises and US power’, Globalisation, vol.7, no. 3, pp. 507-523.

Breslin, S 2011, ‘China and the crisis: Global power, domestic caution and local initiative’, Contemporary Politics, vol.17, no. 6, pp. 185-200.

Detlef, P & Wielgohs, J 2004, Dissent and opposition in communist Eastern Europe: Origins of civil society and democratic transition, Ashgate Publishing, London.

Gretchen, J 2012, ‘The violent consequences of the nation: Nationalism and the initiation of the interstate war’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 825-852.

Harrison, M 2011, ‘The Soviet Union after 1945: Economic recovery and political repression’, Past and Present, vol. 210, no.6, pp. 103–120.

Heywood, A 2000, Key concepts in politics, Macmillan Press, London.

Kirchner, E & Dominquez, R 2011, The security governance of regional organisations Routlege, London.

Mingst, K, Ivan, M & Arreguín, T 2010, Essentials of international relations, Macmillan Press, London.

Motyl, R 2001, Encyclopaedia of nationalism, volume 1: Fundamental themes, Academic Press, San Diego.

Myant, M & Drahokoupil, J 2010, Transition economies: Political economy in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, Wiley-Blackwell, New York City.

Nau, H 2008, Perspectives on international relations: Power, institutions, ideas, Palgrave, London.

Roberts, G 2006, Stalin’s wars: From world war to cold war, 1939–1953, Yale University Press, New Haven.

Roskin, M & Nicholas, B 2009, IR: The new world of international relations, Palgrave. London.

Saxonberg, S 2001, The fall: A comparative study of the end of communism in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary and Poland, Routledge, London.

Wettig, G 2008, Stalin and the Cold War in Europe, Rowman & Littlefield, London.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Soviet Union's Suppression of the Eastern Europe Uprisings." October 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/soviet-unions-suppression-of-the-eastern-europe-uprisings/.


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