The Warsaw Pact, was established in 1955 by the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. It was a military and political alliance between nations of Eastern Europe and was led by the Soviet Union. The founding members were the GDR, the USSR, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Albania (Albania left the pact in 1968). The original purpose of the initiation of the pact was to counter NATO, ideally they wanted both organisations to disappear. The countries collaborated together for many years, using intimidation methods as well as force against anti-communist threats within Europe. As it continued to have activity in Eastern Europe, resent emerged over the USSR’s willingness to sacrifice the population of its allies to look after its own interests.
The anti-communist wave in the late 1980s, which managed to dissolve the Soviet bloc was effectively the ending of the Warsaw Pact between the Eastern European nations. The GDR left the Warsaw Pact, in 1990, as it prepared to reunite with the FRG. There was a strong aspiration for escape from the pact by the former communist satellite nations, once they had rid communism from rule. By March 1991 it was clear to the Soviet leaders that the Warsaw Pact was over, as was the collection of Eastern European nations they had rule over. The pact had at times struck fear into those it was opposing and there were misconceptions of its power by the Western nations. Yet in the end, the Warsaw Pact disappeared with a whimper rather than a bang, thus offering a cautionary tale about the fragility of any modern military machine.
The end of the Warsaw Pact was intrinsically linked to the ending of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc. Gorbachev ushered in a new Soviet form of communism, which it turned out was to be the downfall of the USSR. The nation was however crippled by severe stagnation and economic problems, one can argue there was little opportunity to keep the Soviet machine alive. Gorbachev attempted to resolve these problems by reform, in the shape of glasnost, freedom of speech, and perestroika, which was economic and political reform and restructure. The periphery of the Soviet ‘empire’ eroded first, the Baltic region left communism first and then the Eastern European nations followed suit, some smoothly, others with some violence. The opening of the ‘Pandroa’s box’ really left the USSR with little chance of holding on to dominance and power over its satellite states. This in turn meant that there was no real loyalty left and the nations had no enthusiasm to remain politically and militarily tied to the USSR in the Warsaw Pact, which had mainly worked to suppress the Eastern Bloc people from earning democracy sooner.