An understanding of the changes taking place in The GDR during the 1980s is only possible within the context of broader international conditions. Considered in retrospect, the collapse of the East German regime was largely a consequence of a much larger drama taking place throughout Central and Eastern Europe. This is not to suggest that important internal activities discussed in this chapter did not come into play, but these activities were engaged in with a keen awareness that the Soviet Union remained the major regional power, and it was always possible that the Soviet Union could assert itself at any time, so events were always tempered by the Realpolitik that pervaded Central and Eastern Europe. It is for this reason that Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika are now seen to have been so significant in terms of the events of the 1980s in Central and Eastern Europe.