What was the Warsaw Pact? Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Warsaw Pact.

  • The Warsaw Pact was the Soviet equivalent of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). It was created in 1955 and was intended to be a defence treaty for Communist countries.

  • NATO had been formed in 1949. Its members included the United States, and it was jokingly suggested its aim was to keep the Americans in and the Russians out.
  • The pact was signed in the capital of Poland, Warsaw, hence the name.
  • Its aim was to set up a single military force and to help any Communist member country under threat of attack.
  • The eight eastern European Communist member countries were the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Albania. The headquarters were in Moscow and Warsaw.
  • Although there was never any actual fighting between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries, there was a constant state of tension during the 1950s and ’60s. This period is often called the Cold War.
  • In 1956, Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pact. Soviet soldiers invaded the country and removed the government, during which time an estimated 2,500 Hungarians were killed.
  • In 1983 it was estimated the Warsaw Pact countries between them had almost 2 million ground troops. They also had almost 25,000 tanks and 8,500 fighter aircraft.
  • One of the most important events was the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, in response to protests. The so called Prague Spring showed western countries that the pact was a serious threat.
  • The pact was not necessary when the Cold War in Europe ended in the late 1980s. The Warsaw Pact was cancelled on July 1st, 1991, and the Communist government was overthrown in most of the member countries.
  • Most former pact members joined NATO.
  • In 2005, the Polish government made available over 1,000 previously classified documents from the days of the pact, including some detailing a nuclear war plan.

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