After the Soviet Union dissolution, the countries independent from the Union, or the countries in the East Europe that were puppets of the Soviet Union turned to the current government without a civil war like most of the nations wanting to change their ideology. Those country also have their own military; it is possible for them to use the military power to stay in power. But it seems nobody did so, except Eastern Germany which used its army to suppress the riots. (Actually, I don’t know a lot about that period, maybe there are some more). And what makes me more confused is none of those countries stayed in communism. (Does that mean the Soviet Union might have a incomptent propaganda department?)

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    – MCW
    Feb 4 '21 at 18:40
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    Good job assembling this question in a non-native tongue. Although the English is a bit fractured, I can make out the intent of everything except the final sentence: "(Does that mean the Soviet Union might have a nobility publicity department?)" Could you rework that one sentence a bit to clarify it's intent? Feb 4 '21 at 18:57
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    Romania tried to suppress the collapse with the military. It ended very badly for those in charge. Feb 4 '21 at 19:26
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    Thanks for your remind Mr. Greekens. English is my second language, and I still have some flaws on the usage of English. In the last sentence, what I wanted to say is that from the macro perpective, the effectivity of the publicity of Soviet Cummunism seems mediocre campare with the Gobbels of Nazi Germany(German first) or even much worse than the NATO countries (vigilance and hatred of communism). And there are no even one nation will stay in communism after Soviet collapse could be a evidence (of people do not support the communism).
    – P-H
    Feb 4 '21 at 20:26
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    I take it from the comments about the military that you're unfamiliar with the 1991 Coup against Gorbechev
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 4 '21 at 20:49

The reason is that these regimes had largely lost support in all parts of the population. By the late 1980s it was obvious that workers in Western Europe had a substantially higher living standard than people in Eastern Europe, and that turned the whole idea of socialism somewhat on its head. Add economical and social stagnation and all the contradictions that arise in any normal society but can not well be addressed in a dictatorship. Even the CPSU had realized that things could not go on this way and appointed a reformer, Gorbachev, as their General Secretary in 1985.

This was a situation in which the loyalty of the army - at least that of the conscripts - would have been quite questionable when deployed against their own people. What can happen when parts of the army turn against their commanders can be observed in Syria post-2011. Even if we assume that the consequences in Eastern Europe might have been less extreme (say, only like in Moscow in August 1991), the leaders were probably aware that deploying the army would not improve outcomes.

In any case, in most Eastern European countries the pattern was that old hardline communist leaders were replaced with more reformist communist leaders, because it was felt that the hardliners had no support in the population anymore (e.g. Honecker by Krenz in East Germany, Husák to Jakeš to Urbánek in Czechoslovakia, Zhivkov to Mladenov in Bulgaria). The reformists then realized that they could not win back popular support and basically gave up - because returning power to the hardliners and calling in the army seemed (to them) a worse idea than giving power to the opposition. So there probably were not many leaders inclined to use the army against the protests in the first place.

The question currently states that East Germany used its army against rioters. This is probably a confusion with Romania, where there were armed confrontations between Securitate (a/the secret police) and protesters and later also between Securitate and the army IIRC. Or a confusion with China (incidentically, East Germany was one of very few countries who endorsed the violent repression of the Tiananmen square protests)

East Germany had confrontations between protesters and police and Stasi (East German secret police) in Dresden, Berlin and Plauen and a few other cities and towns in early October. My impression is that the army played only a minor or no role in these events.

  • One of the reasons why the East Germany military leadership (and other high party members) was againt the use of the army was because they knew that many of the protesters had been trained by them (during their military service) how to disable tanks etc. Honecker, who wanted the army to be deployed in Leipzig, accepted this argument. Feb 4 '21 at 22:12
  • Much of what you are saying is right. However: "...because it was felt that the hardliners had no support in the population anymore:" Felt by whom? Gorbachev? Local elites? Is there real evidence that there was any meaningful of support before? IMHO, each country of the Soviet block deserves a separate analysis. For instance, whatever was Jaruzelski's local support, it was mostly due to the fact that he managed to avoid Soviet tanks on the streets in the early 1990s. Once that threat was gone, Jaruzelski's raison d'etre was gone as well. Feb 4 '21 at 23:35
  • @Moishe Kohan I mean a deep feeling that the socialist countries had reached a dead end. Certainly in the 1950s you could see that things were developing and suspect that any difficulties might be only temporary. By the late 1980s everyone was frustrated because it was obvious a lot of things did not work.
    – Jan
    Feb 5 '21 at 0:05
  • The reformers could at least claim (and believe) that they were trying something new. Returning (and by force) to a more traditional socialism would mean more of the same stuff that had already failed. Just with an even more demoralized population.
    – Jan
    Feb 5 '21 at 0:07

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