I was wondering that the severity of repression, censorship, economic stagnation must have varied greatly across the Eastern bloc countries between 1945-1990. It may even have varied over the years in same countries. Which countries/regimes were most and least repressive? Did such variations also exist amongst SSRs in USSR?

My guess is Poland should have had the loosest regime, given the solidarity movement growing well before 1990, visit by pope etc. While Ceausescu's Romania seems a nightmare, given his policy of exporting everything and the way he was killed.

  • 2
    Could you edit the title in particular to ask a question? how do you measure oppression ? Documenting preliminary research will improve both the probability of an answer and the quality of the answer(s) As stated this looks like it will inspire more discussion/opinion than Authoritative answer
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 28 at 17:39
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    1945-1990 is a very long time. Germany and Hungary had their moment of military intervention in 1953/56, Chechoslovakia in 1969. What sort of repression? Chechoslovakia was hardline on religion, Germany was pounding down on western influences in the 70s and 80s. The economic downturn developed after 1970, and reactions to that were varied from liberalisation in Hungary to isolationism in Romania. There is no overall "index of severity".
    – ccprog
    Commented Mar 28 at 18:39
  • I don't see that any of the reasons that lead to closure have been addressed.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 29 at 12:41

2 Answers 2


The issue you're going to have with this question is that "severity of repression" is very subjective. Libertarians, Conservatives, and Social Liberals all have very different views of what kinds of behaviors are oppressive, and what kinds of oppressions are the worst.

Normally, that would mean this would be an off-topic question here, asking for opinions, unless some researcher has actually done and published this analysis so we can just point to that. Fortunately, someone has. In particular I found this dataset from Wikipedia's list of freedom indexes, that looks like it probably covers the years and countries involved:

MaxRange, developed by Max Rånge, and maintained by Mikael Sandberg and Max Rånge, political scientists at Halmstad University, Sweden, is a data set defining a country's level of democracy and institutional structure (regime-type) on a 1000-point graded scale. Values are sorted based on level of democracy and political accountability. MaxRange defines the value corresponding to all states every month from 1789 to the present.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be online (anymore), so one might need to go to the authors or Halmstag University to get access to it. Here's a Wayback link to its website, but none of the data links there seem to work for me.

There also is the Polity Data Series, which goes back to 1800, so it also ought to cover the period in question. It was sponsored by the CIA, so it makes some rather myopic choices (eg: giving the USA a 9/10 during freaking slavery), but it may be a good counterpoint to the Swedish one. Probably easier to get as well.

  • We are talking about jailing and executing political opponents, official censorship, population transfers, limits in one's ability to travel and choose employment - I think the American libertarians, Conservatives and social liberals would agree on this one. Even modern communist apologists do not claim that the Soviet block was a paradise - they rather say it was deviation from the holy Marx.
    – Roger V.
    Commented Mar 29 at 6:15

It depends on the period - the repressions in the USSR have softened after Stalin's death, the regime arguably becoming less oppressive than some of its western allies. I've read somewhere that Gorbachev even qualified Eastern German government as "Stalinists", for being unable to move on with the times. Solidarity of course falls in the last couple of decades before the collapse of the USSR. Hungary followed market liberalization already in the 80s, although quietly, whereas Yugoslavia broke with the USSR already in Stalin's era, and was relatively open to the West - buying western products or vacationing in Greece was there apparently quite a usual thing.

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