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            Photo ©Keystone Press Agency, Inc.  From J. Robert Wegs, Europe Since 1945, 2nd Ed., 1984, p. 130.

This striking photo of Stalin's head in the aftermath of the anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary in October 1956 underlies a key historical debate over whether or not communism ever had popular support in Eastern Europe.  Hugh Seton- Watson portrays the imposition of communist control in the region solely as the result of Soviet aggression and expansion, whereas Geoffrey Swain argues it was a combination of communism's popularity in postwar Eastern Europe and the imposition of Soviet control.  According to Swain, however, communism lost popularity in the region during the Cold War because of Soviet occupation and economic problems, especially shortages of consumer goods.  The Cold War period is marked by a number of major uprisings in Eastern Europe against Soviet control, the most serious being in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.  In Budapest a huge statue of Soviet leader Josef Stalin was toppled by demonstrators and dragged two miles to the center of the city, where it was broken apart by souvenir hunters.  Stalin had been denounced by new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party only months before, in February 1956, which set off a wave of protests in Poland and Hungary, culminating with an invasion by Red Army troops.  A similar fate awaited Czechoslovakia during the "Prague Spring" twelve years later, in 1968.