Concrete Heads and Reformers

The invasion of Warsaw Pact armies into Czechoslovakia 1968 and the subsequently published BREZHNEV DOCTRINE had established rules for governments in the Soviet-dominated sphere in Eastern Central Europe (which applied everywhere except in RUMANIA, the Soviet block's enfant terrible).
In foreign policy these governments were to follow the line set by the USSR; public criticism was to be dealt with at the root. In consequence the leaders of Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany avoided reform policies; Hungary pursued a policy avoiding political reform but pursuing a reformist economic policy while diplomatically remaining loyal to the USSR - a combination referred to as GOULASH COMMUNISM. The brand of politicians holding on to their posts while showing little flexibility and no inclination toward reforms was referred to as the CONCRETE HEADS. For two decades they could hold on to power. As it was mainly the same cliques of persons that stayed in power, the problem of an aging leadership occurred; the USSR in 1984/85, the GDR and Czechoslovakia in 1989, when comminism collapsed, where GERONTOCRACIES; the aged leadership had lost contact to the people and was retired together with the political system they represented for so long.

There were persons who voiced the necessity of reforms, for instance in Czechoslovakia the signatories of the CHARTA 77, in Poland the SOLIDARNOSC MOVEMENT. The state responded with repression; reform was a political taboo.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on July 16th 2001, last revised on November 11th 2004

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