How did the Soviet Union obtain control of Eastern Europe?

I read that after WW 2 they refused to withdrawl their troops and forcibly annexed Eastern Europe. This sounds somewhat one sided, and i don’t know what all political consequences there were to it. Did the Allies agree to this type of situation? What was their reaction (was that how NATO formed)?

Is there a website (preferably a website and not a book, the library here sucks) that details the USSR obtainment of Eastern Europe and the political fallout due to it?

You mean like something about the Cold War?

Look for history on the Yalta Conference. That’s where many of these events were put into motion.

I don’t think annexed is the right word. The only nations that were absorbed into the USSR were the baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which were annexed in 1940. Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland formed the Warsaw Pact, headed by the USSR, but were not formally annexed.

To actually answer the question, the USSR set up governements friendly to them in Eastern Europe, and the Western Allies weren’t willing to fight another war to force the USSR out. Attempts to leave the Soviet sphere of influence were put down by force. See the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 or the Prague Spring of 1968.

NATO was formed April 4, 1949, to counter the USSR. The Warsaw Pact was formed on May 14, 1955, though separate defense treaties between the USSR and its satelites existed before then.

This is a rough summary from wikipedia and an appendix from the Library of Congress. Either of those should give you more reading.


On preview, I see that BobT references the Yalta Conference. It’s hard to say what went on, but one of the offical resolutions was that elections would be held in all of Europe. I think that the UK and US didn’t want to see Eastern Europe under the USSR, but lacked the ability and will to force Stalin to back down.

The Soviets already had their troops in those countries, and Stalin felt that the USSR should have some influence over them since the Soviets were the ones who liberated those countries from the Nazis.

Also, the Soviets wanted a buffer zone between the USSR and the western powers.

Note that the USSR did not control Yugoslavia, which had a more liberal tourism policy than other Iron Curtain countries and also allowed people to go to Austria and Germany as guest workers.

it’s a bit difficult to put all the info in context, but that’s a fairly good resource

I just did this in history and i wasn’t really paying attention during the whole thing but for the most part i got…

Russia moved in to eastern europe on their move to germany and even though some US military leaders wanted to move in to eastern europe to stop them the generals decided not to and moved to italy instead. The USSR said that they were there just to protect and rebuild and promised to provide free elections if the people didnt approve of communism and could decide their fate so the US let them stay because we were busy enough in the pacific. The US also let them stay if they helped out in the invasion of Japan and the USSR were ready to help out when we decided to drop the bomb so we didnt use the USSR and they stayed in eastern europe. Of course as we know now there were no elections.

it kind of rambles but its what i think happened

I have always wondered how Finland managed to escape full occupation and Communization, as it was 1. A former part of the Russian Empire, 2. Allied (not fully) with the Axis in WWII. 3. At war with the Soviet Union during the war.

I know Karelia was annexed, and Finland was forced into a very neutral position that was often favorable to the Soviets - but it avoided becoming a full blown satelite and became in most terms, part of the West…and I would imagine the Cold War dynamic would be quite different with the Red Army further in the heart of the Nordic region.

Also, while Austria was partitioned into sectors and partly occupied by the Soviets, we never had an “East Austria” or “East Vienna” either. I suppose that may have been impractical, but still it represents another very small concession.

Basically the Finns were smart and lucky. They saw early on that the war was turning against the Germans. Unlike other Axis allies such as Romania and Hungary, Finland was seperate enough (both physically and politically) from Germany to have some independance. They therefore were able to drop out of the war early enough that it was still in the Soviets’ interest to negotiate a treaty rather than just overrun Finland. The Finns handed over some disputed territory to the USSR and agreed it would not challenge the Soviets in the future.

One other hot spot in the early years of the Cold War was Trieste and its surrounding areas which was claimed by both Italy and Yugoslavia. Once again, the final settlement went mostly in favor of the west.

The Finns had a lot of luck on their side, made a headache for the Red Army, and seemed to have impressed Stalin with their resistance. They weren’t all that early; 1944 was when most of the minor axis nations were trying to cut and run, and the Finns only surrendered after a Soviet offensive tore up their army. At that point, the USSR could have conquered the whole country without a whole lot of effort, but really wanted to drive into Germany proper and would have had to spend time on the conquest. If the Red Army was not incredibly short on manpower (they were conscripting 16-year-olds and still could only keep units at an average of 60% strength), the Soviets probably would have simply installed a puppet government and wiped out most of the regular government.

The Finns surrendered various border regions, accepted large indemnity payments to the USSR, agreed to capture or force out any Germans on their territory, allowed Soviet use of some naval bases, and agreed not to take up any anti-Soviet foreign policy. It’s probable that Stalin figured the Finns would reneg on post-war repayments or would refuse to drive the Germans out, giving him an excuse to come back later and take more direct control of Finland. Since the Finns did fight the Germans in Finnish territory, never missed any of their reparations payments, and never entered any worrying agreements with the West, their was never a plausible excuse for the USSR to move in, and their wasn’t really much motive to annex Finland.

It’s also worth noting that, even under the tsars, Finland had always enjoyed a fair measure of independence and self-rule. Tsar Nicholas II supposedly once said, “Never speak ill to me of the Finns- they are the only race in our Empire that has never cost me an hour’s sleep.”

So Finland had a history of deferring to Russia in exchange for de facto indepenence LONG before Joe Stalin came along.