The Warsaw Pact – A Definition to „International Socialist Values”

Let me present you the date of May 14, 1955. Signing the Warsaw Pact (Warsaw Treaty) was a monumental day in Warsaw. That’s when the heads of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and the USSR sat down to sign what we now know as the Warsaw Pact. Now, if you need to know, the countries in this pact were totally under the control of the Soviet Union, both politically and militarily.

The Inception of the Warsaw Pact – May 14, 1955

It was believed that the Warsaw Pact was an important milestone in the history of Europe. It formed a military and political alliance of European nations that came under the Soviet influence after World War II ended. Here’s the thing – the Soviet Union was the main player in this pact. It included several countries, like Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania, and Hungary. Yugoslavia was the only country left out.

This pact was set up in 1955 as a response to the establishment of NATO and West Germany joining the North Atlantic Pact. It was planned to last 30 years initially. But when it expired in 1986, they decided to extend it for another 20 years. The guy who was in charge? The Marshal of the USSR.

The Rationale Behind the Warsaw Pact?

The primary reason for creating the Warsaw Pact was to counterbalance NATO and potential military actions from Western countries. It considered a scenario where a potential enemy might attack using nuclear weapons.

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The pact defined each country’s responsibilities. The USSR was the coordinator and was supposed to carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes, while the other states were to carry out actual military operations.

Being part of this pact, you need to know that the plan evolved over time. From 1966 to 1980, they agreed to use weapons of mass destruction only if NATO launched a nuclear attack. By 1980, they ditched the idea of initiating nuclear attacks.

There were two crucial committees in this system. The Political Advisory Committee, composed of party leaders, prime ministers, and defense ministers of the member states, and the Technical Committee, which handled armament matters. The United Command of the Armed Forces, situated in Moscow, made tactical decisions. The subsequent Commanders were Ivan Konev, Andrei Greczko, Ivan Jakubowski, Wiktor Kulikov, and Piotr Łuszew.

The Military Side of the Warsaw Pact

Each member nation of the Warsaw Pact had its own military divisions, which collectively made up the United Armed Forces. I believe it’s essential to know that the pact also had a unified air defense system. The sole owner of nuclear weapons in the pact, the Soviet Union, stationed these deadly weapons in several countries, including Poland.

There’s only one military intervention in the history of the Warsaw Pact. That happened in Czechoslovakia in August 1968 during what’s called the Prague Spring (also known as Operation Danube). Tragically, about 200 people lost their lives during this intervention. Eventually, military cooperation ceased on February 25, 1991, following an agreement signed in Budapest. The Warsaw Pact was officially dissolved a few months later, on July 1, 1991, in Prague.

What’s in a Name? The Origin of 'The Warsaw Pact’

The Warsaw Pact wasn’t always known by that name. Its full, formal title was the „Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance„. Yet, people on both sides of the Iron Curtain, for simplicity’s sake, referred to it as the Warsaw Pact. It was signed on May 14, 1955, in Warsaw, in the palace that was once the Council of Ministers at Krakowskie Przedmieście. Today, that building serves as the president’s seat.

Standing Up to NATO

The formation of the Warsaw Pact was Moscow’s way of responding to the Paris Agreements of May 23, 1954. These agreements led to the establishment of the West German army and the country’s inclusion in NATO. The pact was supposed to act as a counterweight to NATO, which was seen as having an offensive nature.

The document that established the „Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance„, or as we know it, the Warsaw Pact, was signed on May 14, 1955, in Warsaw. It was initially agreed upon for 20 years but was extended every decade thereafter. The first commander of this organization, which brought together the armies of eight communist bloc countries, was the Soviet marshal Ivan Konev.

The political heart of the pact was the Advisory Political Committee. It consisted of the Prime Ministers of the member states, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ministers of National Defense, and leaders of political parties. This committee’s job was to develop a consistent viewpoint on a common strategy against political and military threats. The Committee of Defense Ministers was the most critical military body within the pact.

The Dark Side of Unity – Forced Internationalism

I think it’s worth mentioning how the Warsaw Pact tarnished its reputation with its brutal interference in the internal affairs of member states – especially in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Remember when the Hungarian government, led by Imre Nagy, denounced its membrship in the Warsaw Pact on November 1, 1956?

Czechoslovakia’s response to the „Intervention”

Well, the Soviet army didn’t take that lightly and rolled right into the country. Then, in August 1968, several Warsaw Pact states justified their intervention in Czechoslovakia with the „Brezhnev doctrine”. According to this, the sovereignty of individual socialist states couldn’t conflict with the interests of international socialism.

Attack – The Best Form of Defense?

After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, documents came to light showing the so-called „defensive” nature of the Pact. It turns out their „defense” plans were actually geared towards attacking Western Europe. For instance, the Polish Army’s job was to control the Danish straits in the Baltic Sea. Some of these plans were leaked to NATO by Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski.

Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski to the right

Only the Soviet Army had nuclear weapons within the Warsaw Pact. When the Treaty was established, they had 200 nuclear bombs, compared to NATO’s 3,067. These nuclear weapons were stationed in several Warsaw Pact countries.

According to a CIA report from 1996, these nuclear stockpiles were located in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. In 1990, the Warsaw Pact’s armed forces comprised 3,573,100 individuals, including 347,000 soldiers from the Polish Army – the largest force in the pact after the Red Army. For comparison, NATO’s combined armed forces in 1991 numbered 5,174,010 soldiers.

War Games Map Prepared by The Pack (Archived in IPN)

The End of the Warsaw Pact

On March 31, 1991, following a protocol signed in Budapest in February, the military structures of the Warsaw Pact, entirely controlled by the Soviet Union, were disbanded.

The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact was a direct result of political changes in Eastern Europe. During the Bucharest Summit in 1989, the decision was made to abandon the Brezhnev Doctrine. After the transformations in 1989-1990, the member states agreed that Soviet troops stationed in Pact countries should withdraw from these countries’ territories. Military coperation under the Treaty ended on March 31, 1991, and political structures were disbanded in Prague on July 1, 1991. This marked the final end of the Warsaw Pact.

The Warsaw Pact served as a military organization for Eastern European countries, ensuring Soviet dominance in this part of the continent for 35 years. It was an offensive political and military alliance, entirely subordinated to the USSR.