By Christian Kunitz, Jorge Martinez, Lexi Wallenberg, Heather Rose


Following the death of Communist leader, Joseph Stalin, the oppressive grip of communism began to slip loose and the Superpower began to fall. under the new leader, Nikita Kruschev, the the government and forceful nationalism relaxed somewhat. the wiggle room that this made gave an oppositional movement momentum, and he was ousted though allowed to retire in a quiet dignified manner. All of his successors made the economy of the nation begin decline, until Mikhail Gorbachev, who favored the reform of the USSR. Gorbachev created glasnost, which was the principle that the government should be open and honest with their people. Glasnost seemed to go off flawlessly, changing the way Russia and its people communicated. Then the accident at Chernobyl happened. Once the cataclysmic event happened, instead of Russia informing their people right away, they waited a couple of hours, undermining the severity of the situation. This is when glasnost started to falter. After the accident at, Chernobyl, soviet problems were made clear for the world to mock and ridicule. Many revolutions started popping up, including the ever famous fall of the, Berlin Wall. strikes and independence movements became a common occurrence and the economy got worse. food shortages became another major problem. By 1991 the USSR became the Commonwealth of independent states (CIS), thus dissolving the Former USSR.

The Soviet Union looked to spread communism to the United States and if not to the rest of the world. The Cold War was the main reason the Soviet Union fell but this took some time, nearly half a century. The United States and the Soviet Union engaged in other matters like the race to space. Tension also rose with the nuclear arms race, the United States and the Soviet Union raced each other to the top to become the most powerful.

The Soviet Union looked to spread communism to the United States and if not to the rest of the world. The Cold War was the main reason the Soviet Union fell but this took some time, nearly half a century. The
• Gorbachev favored reform in USSR and Eastern Europe (glasnost, perestroika)
• Elections held in 1989 across Eastern Europe and Berlin Wall fell
• USSR ceased to exist by 1991, was replaced by a loose commonwealth of nations

The collapse of the Soviet Union started with the installment of communism. The USSR started out with a Russian Empire, which was overthrown. From then on the country was socialist and gradually moving towards communism. People may have liked the idea of communism but it never fully worked out. Russia failed to meet the standards/needs of their country which sent them in an economic downturn. More than fifty percent of Russia was non-russian ethnic groups. Russia underestimated their power. Because of the gradual economic downturn Russia was never able to fully instill communism into their people
It is early March, 1985. The Soviet Union is having massive economic problems. Spending all the money to buy and create new technologies in order to compete the U.S. in the space race, has left the USSR feeling defeated. Mikhail Gorbachev has now just become the leader of the Soviet Union; and he has a few ideas to keep the USSR afloat. He created the policies of glasnost, perestroika, and demokratizatsia, to keep the Soviet Union from collapsing. But, due to the fact that over 50% of the USSR's population was that of people of different background, they dislike the USSR's policies the most. With this, protests sprang up all over the Soviet Union! Seeing that his reforms were spiraling out of control, Gorbachev decided to give the people the freedom of speech to be happy. Unfortunately, it failed to settle well with the people. With economy in the trash and people on their way to end a communist rule, in 1991 the communist rule had officially ended and becam a democratic country.

Although the Cold War was the main reason on why the Soviet Union struggled to maintain itself, the actual collapse of the Soviet Union was a result of the discontent of its inhabitants. The collapse came once Soviet inhabitants were allowedto speak their anger.
In the Cold War the constant rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet Union leadboth countries to spend billions of dollars to compete with each other. Withthe race to space, and the struggle to develop the largest military threat bothpowers kept on throwing money, but unfortunately for the Soviet Union theireconomy was not steady to handle such competitions. Not enough capitalism wasbeing made to secure the governments reckless spending. The war weakened the Soviet Union and communist loyalty was being decreased as well.
From the beginning of the Soviet Union, the disloyalty of the non- Russian states was underestimated. Many inhabitants under the iron curtain were nothappy with their rulers, but did not have the means to rebel since the government which was in a strict state of totalariaism. By the time Gorbachev became a Soviet leader, freedoms of the people were long gone. With the economy decreasing and people unhappy Gorbachev saw his time as a leader as a time to changehis nation.
When Gorbachev became the new Soviet leader in 1985 his goal was to betterthe nation and still keep the Union united. To help the economy he did his partin helping resolve tension with the U.S. so that no more competition would leadto the Union spending a lot of money. Next Gorbachev saw that he could pleasethe inhabitants of the Soviet Union by giving the citizens basic human rightslike freedom of speech and press. And that’s were the fire started. Once thecitizens were allowed to express their thoughts they went heavy on criticizingthe corruptness of the government ruling them. Revolts started happening in non-Russian areas of the Soviet Union, and ultimately revolts started in Russiaitself against the government. On August 19, 1991 massive protests happened in Moscow, when the army went to contain the situation the soldiers themselvesrebelled as well. That the Soviet Union fell, when the government ceases tohave power over the citizens and military.

Source Annotation

Lexi's: Summary Source 1: This information tells us the 7 steps that happened in order for the Soviet union to completely collapse. It then explains how Mikhial Gorbachev came to power, the idea of glasnost, the idea of perestroika, democratization, ethnic problems, the Baltic independence, and the conservative coups that were made, brought down the Soviet Union.

Asses #1: The site explains ideas and definitions well. It has great detailed information on what exactly happened. But there are a lot of ads on this site....(some more vulger than others....). Overall It has lots of information that is accurate. The author uses other good sources, including the book Goodbye To The USSR, and the June 4, 1990 Time Magazine article on page 19. The author used great sources and explained his information thoroughly.

Reflect #1: This site is good for the usages of HOW the Soviet union collapsed. I will use it for definitions. Also it has other sources, such as books, that I can read to obtain more information. It is a good site for finding people, places, times, and policies.

Summary Source 2: This source tells explains how glasnost gave people the freedom of speech. The people in the Soviet Union then had the opportunity to protest how they felt about the policies that they hated. Most of the population at the time was 50% of people of different backround who disliked the Soviet Union policies. Between the economic failure due to the arms race with the U.S., and the anger bottled up inside, mass protests of independence happened all over the Soviet union.

Asses #2: This information is great! It gives me the reasons WHY the Soviet Union collapsed. The information in this article is information found at the Cold War Museum, so it is very reliable! It explains in great detail about the problems that contributed to the downfall of the Soviet Union.

Reflect #2: I am using this source for details and economic problems the Soviet Union had. I want to use it to make sure my information is correct and liable. I will use it to find out how people actually felt about the Soviet Union, and if they wanted it changed.

Summary Source 3: This book tells me about the situations and problems Gorbachev had when he decided to created the new policies of glasnost, perestroika, and demokratizatsia. It explains what these policies did and who they affected. Also, it says why the communists disliked some of his ideas, claiming they were becoming a democracy. It explains that he created these policies in order to stop the Soviet Union from collapsing. And when the reforms began spiraling out of control, he gave more rights to the people of Soviet Union, (Freedom of speech, making some decisions in the law, ect.).

Asses #3: This book pacts a punch in about the eight pages it actually talks about this. This information focuses and what happened in order for Gorbachev to make these decisions that actually sped up the Soviet Unions downfall. The author put great details and even translations for the policies: glasnost--freedom of speech, perestroika--restructuring (the economy then the way of life in the Soviet Union), and demokratizatsia--democratization (letting people in on political decisions). He uses great detail and good information.

Reflect #3: I will use it for defining the policies that Gorbachev created. I will also use it to research what Gorbachev knew while he was making these decisions, and if he felt that they would succeed.

Jorge's Annotations:

"__Fall of the Soviet Union__" .coldwarmuseum.Web.May 12, 2011.
Summary: This page gives a very brief description of the creation ofthe Soviet Union. Also this page credits the downfall of the Soviet Union tothe freedom of speech given by the president at the time. This informationmostly consists about the many rebellions that came from non Russian states andultimately the rebellion from Russia against the Soviet Union. It goes intosome detail on the very climax of the Soviet Downfall as well.
Assess: The website seems to be as reliable of a sources as it getsconsidering that it's information is used in an actual museum. The page itselfdoes not have that much detail as I would have expected. The page mostlyfollows the trail of how freedom of speech took down the Soviet Union. It helpsme get some backbone information on the downfall, but does not fill me in onany little things. But at the same time the website itself is all about thecold war so I suppose for me to come to a more thorough conclusion I would haveto piece the puzzle using the many articles on the site. Overall it was simpleand sweet but reliable.
Reflect: It gives a brief time line of events that impacted thecollapse of the Union. It also gives a brief explanation on why these eventshappened. I could use this information as a form to sum up the downfall. Alsothe page did give a lot of names and dates of important stuff. This could helpme have an idea on what to be researching.

Hoyt, Alia. “____How Communism Works____.” How stuff works. 2011.Web. May 10 2011.
Summary: This site mostly credits the Cold War as the key variablein the downfall of the Soviet Union. It goes on a brief timeline of events thatwere significant in the Cold War era. Also it has some very brief detail on thetreaties between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev andU.S. President Ronald Reagan trying to lessen the tensions between nations. Ultimatelyit talks about the Soviet Union not being able to cope with the Cold war.
Assess: The webpage does seem a little opinion based; I believethat the collapse of the Soviet Union has more to it than the Cold War. Thepage also does not go into any deep detail about Cold War events but doesprovide links for more information. Also it never fully answers the question onhow the Cold War collapsed the Soviet power. It states how the arms race, spacerace, and communism were bad on the Soviet economy but never goes into deeperdetail than that. Next it just talks about how the next president wantedchange. The events stated on the page are reliable info though; I rememberlearning about most of them in class. This source is in fact opinion based inwhat its trying to say, it doesn’t see the Soviet Downfall in a broader perspectivebut just pairs the downfall with the Cold War and doesn't fully back it up.
Reflect: I really cannot use this article for much information. Iknew the Soviet Union and the U.S. had rivalries during the cold war but that’snot what I wanted to learn about. The page is titled: The Fall of the SovietUnion but the article doesn't focus enough on how stuff of the Cold Warbrought the Union down. It gives me some details of the Cold War, and brieflyon treaties with U.S. and Soviet leaders. I can extract some dates and eventsfrom this page but not too much.
Gaddis, John. "Reagan and Gorbachev: An Unexpected Thaw inThe Cold War." RonaldReagan. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press, Inc.2001. 89-98. Print.
This article from the Ronald ReaganBook talked about Ronald Reagan's friendly approach to the Soviet Union whenGorbachev rose to power. It talks about Gorbachev’s willingness to negotiatewith the U.S. Ultimately the article is about the arms treaties between the twopowerful nations.

Assess: The information seemed reliable since it was written by aYale Historian and also published in Oxford University. It was good informationin that it talked about how improved relations between the U.S. and the SovietUnion ended the Cold War. It specifies on the treaties that were assessed bythe two leaders to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons. The improved relationseventually lead to the removal of the Berlin Wall which was a request fromPresident Reagan at the time. It had very good specific examples; it was a verygood source.
Reflect: From the start I wanted to figure out how Ronald Reaganhad to do with the Soviet Downfall. In reading this passage I learned that hehelped eliminate some of the raging rivalry between the two super powers whichhelped the Soviet Union focus more on their own problems. I wanted to know moreabout the Arms Reduction treaties, and that’s exactly what I got. It alsoexplained how Gorbachev and Reagan had very good interpersonal relations. It describedtheir friendship as of that of a two strangers that met and realized that theyhad much in common. This was a good source for one piece of the puzzle I wantedto learn about.

trrSummary: This site gives you a basic understanding about communism but lacks the information about why the Soviet Union fell. It does however talk about the tension/relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Heather's Annotations:

Summary: This website has an overview of all the steps there were in the process of the soviets collapsing. Then there are six other pages you can go on that describe the steps to the soviets collapse more specifically. The six main topics this site addresses are Glasnost, Perestroika, Democratization, Ethnic Problems, Baltic Independence, and The Conservative Coup. Information on the website not regarding the collapse of the Soviet Union varies tremendously. The whole site is based on history, so everything from current day to 4000 BC is available. You are also able to take multiple choice history quiz's to test your knowledge on general world history. There are ads on the website, but none of them are alarming or discredit the information the website gives.
Assess: The information given is accurate and easy to understand. They broke it up into sections which lets you analyze what you’re reading in chunks and helps you comprehend what you’re reading better. This website compared to other sources I have gotten information from seems to be giving accurate history. Also, to make sure this website was in fact giving correct information I went on other pages of the site to see if their information was accurate. These pages consisted of recent history that I know from experiencing. Those pages confirmed this websites credibility. Overall I think everything is easy to read and it explains everything thoroughly without confusing the reader.
Reflect: I think that this website is very informational and through making it a place I would use for other school related assignments. It’s a very handy website because there are a lot of topics you can choose from. I would use this website for anything related to history, for it is very reliable.

"Fall of the Soviet Union." Cold War Museum. Web. 10 May 2011. <>.

Summary: This website talks about the Soviets collapse from more of a political standpoint, constantly referencing the state of which communism exists in their country. It also goes through Russia's political history saying how the Soviet Union adapted to communism.
Assess:The information is all put together in one instead of breaking it apart into easier chunks to read. I think by doing so that has made the article jammed with information and the comprehensibility is more difficult. The information that is given however, are just main events that happened in the Soviet Union therefore it's not extremely through. Observing that the information came from a history museum the I can assume that it is accurate. Plus, the information is the same from all the other websites I've looked at.
Reflect: I would use this source if I wanted a quick overview of why the Soviet Union collapsed. If I were researching, this would be one of the first websites I would go onto so I could only start to grasp information, but once I understood it, I would go to a different website for more depth of the history.

Dudley, Willam. Russia. San Diego: David L. Bender, 2001. Print.
Summary: This book is all about Russia's' history. I found that all the information about Russia's collapse was all in the beginning of the book while the rest of the book talked about them after their collapse.
Assess: There was a lot of information and it was all condensed into two to three pages. However the information was through and I was able to learn new things that I had not known before. This book does seem to be acurate.
Reflect: I would use this book if I wanted to know specific information, but I might use it as a last resort. The book wasn't easy to read, and I had to make sure I was always alert taking in everything and processing it.

Reflections and Conclusions

At first I did not know how to approach this topic, but after a while the policies and the reasons for the fall of the Soviet Union fell into place. I learned that after losing the space race, the USSR had economic problems, due to the fact that they spent billions of dollars in order to compete with the U.S.. And the people in the USSR knew it. They knew that their country was on the verge of falling apart, and that is when they got worried. It was hard to find out the reasons "why" the Soviet Union collapsed because a lot of things contributed to it. Between mass protests, food problems, and economic hardships, it is hard to tell which problem had the most effect. In the end, the people were just tired of it, and a new form of goverment needed to be established. This topic was a awesome topic to work on. It really helped me search and read more. It also got me to ask questions and figure out complicated text. Overall I loved this topic.

I was very excited to do this topic. When I was at a hotel in Cincinnati fora soccer tournament I saw a national geographic episode regarding the SovietDownfall in my room. I got very interested, that day I totally skipped goinginto the pool and just watched the presentation. Before hand I knew a goodamount from the episode and when I had a chance to do a project on it, I gotpretty excited. I learned a lot more from the research I did from this project.I learned how Gorbachev was such a large part in the collapse on the SovietUnion. There were so many pieces to the puzzle in ultimately ending with theSoviet Union collapsing in 1991. I also got some good practice in citing mysources, and it really doesn't feel like such a big deal to cite anymore. Ialso found really interesting websites that had a lot of pictures andinformation on the down fall and the Cold War. I was glad to expand myknowledge on this topic since I already had a bit of background information onit. Overall this project was a lot of fun to complete.


In the video
Gorbachev & Glasnost in the USSR
, around 2:56, it explains the freedoms accosiated with glasnost.
This picture shows Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union and 1990's Nobel Peace Prize winner.
This picture shows Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union and 1990's Nobel Peace Prize winner.
put mouse on picture)

Works Cited

Dudley, Willam. Russia. San Diego: David L. Bender, 2001. Print.

"Fall of the Soviet Union" .coldwarmuseum.Web.May 12, 2011.

"Fall of the Soviet Union." Cold War Museum. Web. 10 May 2011. <

Graham, James. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union." - Articles, Birthdays & Today in History. Web. 10 May 2011. <>.

"The Soviet Era" History of Russia/ Overview; 1 page; Date of access: 5/13/11; URL:
Kort, Michael. Nations In Transition: Russia. Facts On File Incorporated. New York. 1995. Print

But, here's how you do it:

A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection

Works may include an essay in an edited collection or anthology, or a chapter of a book. The basic form is for this sort of citation is as follows:

Lastname, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection. Ed. Editor's Name(s). Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page range of entry. Medium of Publication.

Assess: The information seems a little opinion based with facts thrown in here and there. There isn't too much information on the site and its not mainly focused on the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Reflect: This source doesn't seem good for much.