Scholar Interviews

What are the crucial moments of 1989?


For me, the revolutions of 1989 would not have happened without Gorbachev, making clear, open statements. There were several speeches in ’89 where he basically renounced the Brezhnev Doctrine, and so the fact that he is open about it, the fact that he does not react in any way when the Poles decide to have their roundtable discussions in April of 1989. That there’s absolutely no repercussions for that, is in fact, you know, a clear signal that things could go in a different direction, in other words, that the East European leadership has to make their own choices in terms of their future. And I would say, you know, that kind of connected thing that’s happening at the same time is, of course, that the Baltics, because of perestroika, have now been able to elect nationalists, representatives and are voting themselves out of the Union and guess what? Nothing happens.

Again, so it’s that inaction that is an important signal, to do as you please, to kind of take your fate in your hands, you know, the Soviet empire is over for better, for worse in that particular area of Europe. So I think that to me is the most important thing because the way I teach it to students, the history of communism is that it’s always about the Soviet Union in the background or in the foreground, but always, you know, that the East Europeans are always watching over their backs no matter what they do, no matter how much it is about internal matters.

How to Cite

Maria Bucur, interview, "What are the crucial moments of 1989?" Making the History of 1989, Item #602, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:25 pm).