Eastern Europe, 1948–1991
In 1943 Hitler’s Nazi Germany and German-dominated Eastern Europe began to collapse on the eastern front with massive military defeats against the Soviet Union at Stalingrad and Kursk. Disintegration accelerated throughout 1944, when the Red Army pushed German forces out of Russia into Poland, a western front opened against Germany after the Normandy invasion, and a relentless Western air campaign on Germany caused major communications and logistical problems and widespread disillusionment among the Germans at home. Soviet Red Army forces entered the Balkans in August 1944, leading to the surrender of Romania in that month, the collapse of Bulgaria in the next, and a link up with Tito’s now dominant Communist Yugoslav partisans by October. Outflanked, Germany abandoned its remaining occupied states, took control of Hungary, and made a last stand in Eastern Europe at Budapest. To the north, the Soviets drove deeper into Poland, ceasing temporarily at Warsaw (August) long enough to permit the Germans to crush a Soviet-encouraged uprising of Polish nationalist forces before pushing farther west.