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The Collapse of the Soviet Union & the End of the Cold War
Read the following passage.
The Autumn of Nations
In 1986 Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev stopped giving financial aid to the Soviet satellite nations.
Without the help of the USSR these countries were unable to keep the tight control over their people they once
had. Unrest in Eastern European countries boiled over into protest and full-scale
revolution in 1989. Student protests in Tiananmen Square in China inspired many
people in Eastern Bloc to rebel against communism. The USSR, however, was too
weak to continue interfering in satellite countries, and did not send troops (like China)
to stop protests. In Poland Solidarity, a movement led by Lech Walesa won all elections
in 1989, eliminating communist power there. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and
Romania also threw off Soviet control and enjoyed free elections starting in 1989.
This period of time became known as the Autumn of Nations.
In some cases like Romania, the Soviet-backed dictator was tried for their
crimes against the people. Former Romanian dictator Nicolai Ceaucescu was executed
on Romanian television after a brief show trial.
German Reunification
Polish Solidarity inspired West and East Germans to demand political reform and reunification.
Gorbachev urged the leader of East Germany to accept reform, but the leader refused. The protests swelled in
size. Reforms allowed Germans to travel between East and West Berlin for
the first time since before the wall was built. The crowds that came were too
large for guards to manage and the guards gave up trying to control the
people. Thousands of Germans walked freely between the two halves of
Berlin to see family and friends they had long since been separated from.
Soon, people started breaking away pieces from the Berlin Wall. In 1989,
the Berlin Wall fell as did the communist party in East Germany.
Reunification made Germany into one country.
For many around the world the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of the
Cold War. With the wall crumbling before peoples eyes, it seemed the Cold War was all but over.
Collapse of the Soviet Union
By the end of 1989 all of the Eastern Bloc was on its way to free elections and away from communism.
The Soviet Union had lost its satellites. The Soviet Empire was dissolved. Gorbachev struggled to fix the
USSRs internal economic and social issues, but failed. The USSR was unable to stop the momentum of the
independence movements started during the Autumn of Nations. By 1991 the Soviet Union officially collapsed.
The USSR returned to being called Russia. Fifteen sections of the USSR became new, independent countries
known as Post-Soviet States. Gorbachev resigned as leader of the Communist Party and free elections for
President of Russia were held in 1991. Boris Yeltsin was elected president of Russia. He helped transform
Russia's command economy into a market economy.

Directions: Answer 7 of the following questions in complete sentences.


1. What was the Autumn of Nations? Why do you think it was called this?

2. How did the Tiananmen Square protests impact the Cold War?

3. What was Solidarity? Who led it?

4. How did Polands rebellion inspire Germany?

5. Why didnt The USSR try to stop rebellions in the Eastern Bloc?

6. What happened to the other satellite countries of the USSR in 1989? Why?

7. Why did the Berlin Wall fall?

8. What are Post-Soviet States?

9. What kind of government/economy did Russia have after the Cold War? Who led it?

10. Do you think the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a better world? Explain your answer.

DIRECTIONS: Read an excerpt from the NY Times on the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then
answer the following questions in complete sentences.

Obituary of the Soviet Union


END OF THE SOVIET UNION; The Soviet State, Born of a Dream, Dies - December 26, 1991
The Soviet state, marked throughout its brief but tumultuous history by great achievement and terrible suffering, died
today after a long and painful decline. It was 74 years old.
Conceived in utopian promise and born in the violent upheavals of the "Great October Revolution of 1917," the union
heaved its last in the dreary darkness of late December 1991, stripped of ideology, dismembered, bankrupt and hungry -but awe-inspiring even in its fall.
The end of the Soviet Union came with the resignation of Mikhail S. Gorbachev to make way for a new "Commonwealth
of Independent States." At 7:32 P.M., shortly after the conclusion of his televised address, the red flag with hammer-andsickle was lowered over the Kremlin and the white-blue-red Russian flag rose in its stead. No Ceremony, Only Chimes
Measured against its own ambitions, the U.S.S.R. died a monumental failure.
It had promised no less than the creation of a "Soviet new man," imbued with selfless devotion to the common good, and
it ended up all but crushing the initiative and spirit of the people, making many devoted only to vodka. It had proclaimed a
new humanitarian ideology, and in its name butchered 10 million of its own. It envisioned a planned economy in which
nothing was left to chance, and it created an elephantine [really big] bureaucracy that finally smothered the economy.
Promising peace and freedom, it created the world's most militarized and ruthless police state.
1) What is the name of this document and when was it written?

2) Why did the USSR die a monumental failure? Give two examples.

3) Do you think this is an accurate representation of the Soviet Union? Defend your answer.

4) What does the NY Times mean when it says the Soviet Union was stripped of ideology?

1) The Marshall Plan was designed to stop the


spread of communism by providing
(1) government housing to refugees
(2) military assistance to Vietnam
(3) funds for economic recovery in war-torn
European nations
(4) nuclear weapons to North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) members

7) - Creation of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty


Organization) and the Warsaw Pact
- Construction of the Berlin Wall
- Cuban missile crisis

11) In 1955, the Soviet Union made all communist


countries in Eastern Europe join this defensive
alliance
(1) NATO
(2) Truman Doctrine
(3) The Warsaw Pact
(4) League of Extraordinary Nations

15)Korea Divided at 38th Parallel


Hungarian Revolution Crushed
Missile Sites Spotted in Cuba
The events in these headlines contributed to the
(1) development of peacetime alliances
(2) collapse of the Soviet Union
(3) rejection of imperialism by Western nations
(4) tensions between the superpowers

These events are most closely associated with


(1) World War I
(2) World War II
(3) the Cold War
2) What is a long-term effect of the Soviet invasion (4) the Persian Gulf War
of Afghanistan in 1979?
(1) Communism was strengthened in South Asia.
8) Which statement describes one major
(2) Hostilities between China and India lessened.
aspect of a command economy?
(3) The influence of militant Islamic groups increased (1) Supply and demand determines what will be
in the region.
produced.
(4) Tensions along the border between Pakistan
(2) Most economic decisions are made by the
and Afghanistan were reduced.
government.
(3) The means of production are controlled by labor
5) What was a major reason for the formation of
unions.
NATO in 1949?
(4) The economy is mainly agricultural.
(1) to control European trade
(2) to resist Soviet aggression
9) In the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachevs attempts to
(3) to support the blockade of Berlin
change the Soviet Union resulted in
(4) to strengthen communist governments
(1) an increase in tensions between India and the
Soviet Union
(2) a strengthening of the Communist Party
(3) a shift from producing consumer goods to
producing heavy machinery
(4) a series of economic and political reforms

13) A similarity between the Polish group Solidarity


in 1980 and the Chinese protesters in Tiananmen
Square in 1989 is that both groups
(1) supported movements for democracy
(2) succeeded in ending communism
(3) encouraged military occupation by the USSR
(4) favored increases in military spending

16) The term iron curtain refers to the


(1) scars left on the land by the trenches of
World War I
(2) no-fly zone in northern Iraq after the Persian
Gulf War
(3) border established between India and
Pakistan after World War II
(4) western boundary of Soviet domination in Europe
during the Cold War

17) The purpose of the Marshall Plan was to


(1) restore Japanese economic development
(2) provide military aid to Middle Eastern allies
(3) assure nationalist success in the Chinese civil war
(4) provide for economic recovery in Western
Europe

Base your answers for Questions 19 and 20 on the image below and your knowledge of Social Studies.
19) The political climate of the Cold War caused the
worlds two superpowers to
(1) cooperate in halting the spread of communism
(2) colonize Africa and Asia
(3) compete economically and militarily
(4) protect human rights

20) Which period of history is depicted in this


cartoon?
(1) Industrial Revolution
(2) Age of Enlightenment
(3) Age of Imperialism
(4) Cold War

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10
11
12
13
14
15

Lithuania
Moldova
Russia
Tajikistan
Turkmenistan
Ukraine
Uzbekistan

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2
3
4
5
6

Armenia
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Estonia
Georgia
Kazakhstan