After the demise of Communism in East-Central Europe in 1989–1990, the new, non-Communist governments in the region had to consolidate their countries’ independence. The basic institutions of Soviet domination in East-Central Europe—the Warsaw Pact, the Council for Economic Mutual Assistance (CMEA), four large contingents of Soviet troops, and various other mechanisms of intra-bloc integration—still existed, and Soviet leaders hoped they could preserve most of those features in some form. Officials in East-Central Europe soon realized that they would have to take the initiative in eliminating all vestiges of Soviet hegemony in the region. The main impetus came from Hungary and Czechoslovakia and eventually Poland. Acting as a pressure group, they achieved agreement in the first half of 1991 on the dismantling of the alliance's military structures and then, by mid-1991, the dissolution of both the Warsaw Pact and CMEA. This article draws on recently declassified Hungarian, Soviet, East German, and Bulgarian archival sources to tell the behind-the-scenes endgame of the Warsaw Pact.

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