The German Democratic Republic HI136: History of Germany
Totalitarianist interpretations <ul><li>Popular in 1950s West German interpretations; revival post-1989 </li></ul><ul><ul>...
Modernising dictatorship? <ul><li>Complex industrial economy required ‘rational’ not ‘ideological’ elite </li></ul><ul><ul...
Collective biographies & everyday histories <ul><li>GDR lasted more than one generation; post-1949 generation ‘born into’ ...
The Achievements of Socialism First GDR cosmonaut in 1976; from the 1960s astronomy was on all GDR school curriculums Char...
Walter Ulbricht, SED leader 1946-71 <ul><li>Reliable but uncharismatic functionary </li></ul><ul><li>Weimar KPD leader in ...
Erich Honecker, SED leader, 1971-89 <ul><li>Spent most of Third Reich in prison </li></ul><ul><li>1946 leader of Free Germ...
Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) <ul><li>June 1945 Soviets relegalise political parties </li></ul><ul><li>Autumn Com...
The Stasi (MfS): Shield and Sword of the Party <ul><li>Founded as clone of KGB under Soviet occupation </li></ul><ul><li>E...
17 June 1953: A People’s Uprising? <ul><li>March 1953: Stalin dies; power vacuum? </li></ul><ul><li>May: new Moscow leader...
 
The Open Border Potsdamer Platz, 1952, before the Wall Movements across German-German border, 1949-61: note peaks in 1953,...
The Berlin Wall, 13 August 1961 <ul><li>Failure of 1958 economic drive to overtake West German consumer production </li></...
Antifascism: a legitimatory ideology <ul><li>Marxist-Leninist doctrine always interpreted fascism as an outgrowth of capit...
Socialist nationalism? <ul><li>Early Stalinist/SED policy stressed national unity (Stalin 1945: ‘The Hitlers come and go; ...
‘ The Friends’: Relations with the Soviets <ul><li>Official propaganda stressed the liberation in 1945, GDR ‘brothers in a...
Economic decline <ul><li>Honecker’s subsidies at cost of western loans; increasing pressure to liberalise in return for lo...
Civil society <ul><li>SED state claimed monopoly of representation; even strikes illegal </li></ul><ul><li>Artists & write...
9 October 1989: Leipzig
The Fall of the Wall <ul><li>May 1989: Hungarians breach iron curtain </li></ul><ul><li>Mass exodus begins; frustrated lea...
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Geschiedenis the german democratic republic - east germany -

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Geschiedenis the german democratic republic - east germany -

  1. 1. The German Democratic Republic HI136: History of Germany
  2. 2. Totalitarianist interpretations <ul><li>Popular in 1950s West German interpretations; revival post-1989 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comparisons drawn with brown dictatorship of NS </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stress illegitimacy of Soviet occupation & East German ‘puppets’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State ideology of ‘socialist personality’ within collective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Leading role’ of ruling party enshrined in constitution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stasi secret police </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State control of economy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Control of media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Control of economy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Berlin Wall as epitome of state control of individual </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Breached UN human rights on freedom of travel </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Klaus Schroeder, Der SED-Staat (1998) </li></ul><ul><li>Eckard Jesse (ed.), Totalitarismus im 20. Jahrhundert (1998) </li></ul><ul><li>Anthony Glees, The Stasi Files (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Also popular with many former GDR citizens; but is this because it denies personal responsibility? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Modernising dictatorship? <ul><li>Complex industrial economy required ‘rational’ not ‘ideological’ elite </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More university graduates enter party apparatus from 1960s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peter C. Ludz, The Changing Party Elite in East Germany (1968/72) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Economic reforms of 1960s (New Economic System) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attempt at decentralisation and incentivisation of economy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technological revolution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Special role of intelligentsia in GDR (see dividers on state emblem) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Precision engineering from Dresden & Leipzig </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1980s gamble on microchip technology (too high investment costs) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Welfare dictatorship (Konrad Jarausch) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Indirect use of ‘social power’ to predispose groups to choose socialism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full employment, hospitals, education system > fond memories </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Educational dictatorship (Erziehungsdiktatur)? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Party ‘in loco parentis’, knowing what was good for the people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rolf Henrich, The Guardian State (1989); party man turned dissident </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Collective biographies & everyday histories <ul><li>GDR lasted more than one generation; post-1949 generation ‘born into’ socialism </li></ul><ul><li>Are we patronising GDR citizens by treating them all as ‘released prisoners’ & victims? </li></ul><ul><li>Gaus, Locating Germany (1983): ‘niche society’, relatively normal private life possible behind public conformity </li></ul><ul><li>Mary Fulbrook, The People’s State (2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Material culture: 1990s growing interest in popular culture of GDR </li></ul><ul><li>Ostalgie/’Eastalgia’: re-issuing of GDR brands (see the Spreewald gherkin episode in Goodbye Lenin ); fight to preserve minor symbols of difference (traffic light man) </li></ul><ul><li>Danger of ‘commodifying’ the GDR past & relativising idealistic motivations </li></ul>The Children of Golzow (7-up TV biography, 1961 ff.) Born in Year One , Wierling’s 2002 collective biography Goodbye Lenin (2003): Alex with his allegorical mother/motherland who cannot survive the fall of the Wall GDR green man – is nothing sacred?
  5. 5. The Achievements of Socialism First GDR cosmonaut in 1976; from the 1960s astronomy was on all GDR school curriculums Charité hospital, Berlin: GDR polyclinics are one of the few legacies adopted by united Germany Katarina Witt, Olympic ice-skating champion & GDR ‘ice princess’: the GDR measured its success against the FRG in gold medals East Germany’s ‘honours system’: the state was adept at rewarding participation with a mania for badges
  6. 6. Walter Ulbricht, SED leader 1946-71 <ul><li>Reliable but uncharismatic functionary </li></ul><ul><li>Weimar KPD leader in Berlin in 1930s </li></ul><ul><li>Nazi exile spent mainly in Moscow, avoiding purges of later 30s; viewed as Stalinist even after Stalin’s death </li></ul><ul><li>Favoured ‘hard line’ of constructing socialism in half a country rather than pursuing reunification; in 1953 under heavy fire from Politburo colleagues, but ‘saved’ by 17 June uprising </li></ul><ul><li>Activist role in pushing Khrushchev into aggressive stance over Berlin Crisis; WU devoted most of later time to foreign pol. </li></ul><ul><li>1960s attempted to play the moderniser, with focus on technology </li></ul><ul><li>1971 ousted by ‘palace coup’ by Honecker, with Soviet backing of Brezhnev; died in 1973 </li></ul>
  7. 7. Erich Honecker, SED leader, 1971-89 <ul><li>Spent most of Third Reich in prison </li></ul><ul><li>1946 leader of Free German Youth </li></ul><ul><li>From late 1950s responsible for internal affairs in GDR </li></ul><ul><li>1971 acquired Moscow’s backing to remove Ulbricht </li></ul><ul><li>EH formed an unwritten ‘social pact’ (the Unity of Economic and Social policy) which subsidised popular standard of living (at height in mid-70s); increasingly paid for by loans from West, turning GDR into loan junkie by 1980s </li></ul><ul><li>Gorbachev’s arrival as a Soviet reform communist leader in 1985 caused SED a succession crisis as ‘gerontocracy’ hung on to power; EH was hospitalised at crucial points of the 1989 crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Famous in GDR for panama hat & natty pale suits; died 1994 in exile in Chile </li></ul>
  8. 8. Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) <ul><li>June 1945 Soviets relegalise political parties </li></ul><ul><li>Autumn Communists decide on merger with Social Democrats; local resistance from some SPD, but pressure from SMAD </li></ul><ul><li>United workers’ party of SED founded April 1946 (debates: was this the spontaneous will of workers, learning lessons of divided labour movement in 1933, or creature of Soviets?) </li></ul><ul><li>1948-51: SED Stalinised into ‘New-Type Party’; purge of former Social Democrats & loss of parity principle </li></ul><ul><li>1946 free elections: SED polls 48% </li></ul><ul><li>SED functions as hub of Antifascist Bloc including Christian Democrats and Liberal Democrats, and later National Democrats and Farmers; elections also fought as single Bloc list (aka National Front) </li></ul><ul><li>SED membership: rose from 1.3 (1946) to 2.3 million (1986), including many careerist members; women’s shared only reached 35.5%; functionaries (i.e. officials) liked to list themselves as ‘workers’ but had they functionally become middle-class? </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Politbureaucracy’ lived sheltered existence in Wandlitz compound, including all mod cons </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Foot soldiers’ often true believers, working hard & living frugally (see Landolf Scherzer, Der Erste/Number One, 1988, shadowing hardworked local party secretary) </li></ul>Wilhelm Pieck (KPD) shakes hands with Otto Grotewohl (SPD) on formation of SED, April 1946 Propaganda poster for unity
  9. 9. The Stasi (MfS): Shield and Sword of the Party <ul><li>Founded as clone of KGB under Soviet occupation </li></ul><ul><li>Early on used mainly for counter-intelligence (to keep out or kidnap western spies) </li></ul><ul><li>Markus Wolf’s Foreign Section scored notable successes in planting moles with West German Chancellor Willy Brandt in 1970s </li></ul><ul><li>1952 Stasi given control of border; later policed the border troops </li></ul><ul><li>Poor early warning for 1953 uprising & temporarily demoted from ministerial status </li></ul><ul><li>Central Evaluation & Information Group (ZAIG) monitored popular mood </li></ul><ul><li>Self-image as pro-active ‘social workers’ or agents of the ‘invisible frontier’; ‘operative missions’ included infiltration & decomposition from within of suspected dissident groups </li></ul><ul><li>1960s MfS adopts more sophisticated techniques & ‘total surveillance’ </li></ul><ul><li>Informelle Mitarbeiter (IMs) (‘informal collaborators’ or informants: growing reliance for ‘total surveillance’ on coopted members of public </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Destasification’: prominent cases show difficulty of proving if suspect was indirectly reported or IM (Manfred Stolpe, minister-president of Brandenburg) </li></ul><ul><li>Timothy Garton Ash, The File (1997) </li></ul><ul><li>Mike Dennis, The Stasi: Myth and Reality (2003) </li></ul>Erich Mielke, Minister of State Security, 1957-89 Manfred Stolpe, dogged by IM accusations Stasi HQ at Normannenstrasse, Berlin
  10. 10. 17 June 1953: A People’s Uprising? <ul><li>March 1953: Stalin dies; power vacuum? </li></ul><ul><li>May: new Moscow leadership order more liberal ‘New Course’; Ulbricht criticised </li></ul><ul><li>But workers excluded from some reforms (ration cards, work quotas increased) </li></ul><ul><li>16 June: building workers on Berlin’s Stalinallee strike for economistic reasons </li></ul><ul><li>17 June am: spontaneous strikes in cities; Berlin strikers march on ministerial district </li></ul><ul><li>17 June pm: more political demands (free elections, national unity); late afternoon Soviet tanks impose martial law </li></ul><ul><li>East German explanation: CIA-organised putsch (‘Tag X’) using teenager thugs </li></ul><ul><li>West German explanation: people’s revolt against Soviet tyranny </li></ul>‘ The People’s Uprising of 17 June’, West German poster
  11. 12. The Open Border Potsdamer Platz, 1952, before the Wall Movements across German-German border, 1949-61: note peaks in 1953, mid-50s when tourist viasa available, & eve of Wall <ul><li>1945 interzonal borders policed by Allies </li></ul><ul><li>Berlin: quadripartite city with access via U-Bahn & S-Bahn </li></ul><ul><li>Grenzgaenger (border-crossers): by 1961 50-60,000 E. Germans commuted to W. Berlin; others simply shopped there </li></ul><ul><li>Currency speculation across Berlin-Berlin border at 1:5 East:West marks </li></ul><ul><li>Republikflucht (flight from the Republic): defection by ca 1 in 6 of GDR population </li></ul><ul><li>1952 Stasi fortify inner-German border; tourist visits to FRG cut drastically </li></ul><ul><li>1953 travel liberalised, but abused for more defections; 1957 plans to leave criminalised with 3 years’ prison; Berlin became chief exit point </li></ul><ul><li>Hirschman’s ‘exit/voice’ model of flight & protest; remaining E. Germans could blackmail system for goods such as housing; regime unable to introduce conscription </li></ul>
  12. 13. The Berlin Wall, 13 August 1961 <ul><li>Failure of 1958 economic drive to overtake West German consumer production </li></ul><ul><li>1960 economic problems & growing E. European subsidies </li></ul><ul><li>1961 Warsaw Pact states agree to seal off W. Berlin; initially fences were erected (see right) to test the West’s response; since the barrier was within E. Berlin territorial limits it was treated as internal affair </li></ul><ul><li>1964 old age pensioners allowed to visit West </li></ul><ul><li>1971 Berlin Agreement permits ‘grade-1 relatives’ to visit West; in the 1980s West German loans were tied to the human rights liberalisation </li></ul><ul><li>Shoot to kill: all told approx. 1,000 persons died at the inner-German border; it was also mined until 1984; after fall of the Wall border guards who shot received suspended sentences fro manslaughter; those higher up in the Army or Politburo received prison sentences </li></ul>Temporary barriers on 13.8.61 Border troops’ sketch of Berlin Wall (post-1975 version): a double wall with a sandy area between & alarmed fences & anti-grip final wall
  13. 14. Antifascism: a legitimatory ideology <ul><li>Marxist-Leninist doctrine always interpreted fascism as an outgrowth of capitalism; therefore antifascism linked to anti-capitalism (big business as Hitler’s stringpullers) </li></ul><ul><li>Fascism also interpreted as a political class war (mainly v. KPD), rather than racial war (v. Jews); GDR paid no reparations to Israel & antisemitic attacks on graveyards persisted </li></ul><ul><li>West German Federal Republic viewed as haven of former Nazis, protected by Anglo-Americans (especially in 1950s/60s); antifascism thus had contemporaneous function of anti-westernism (e.g. Berlin Wall officially labelled ‘Antifascist Defence Rampart’) </li></ul><ul><li>SED leadership (mainly Soviet exiles) had ambivalent attitude to ‘real’ antifascist veterans (marginalised ‘inland’ resisters, dissolved veterans’ organisations) </li></ul><ul><li>Antifascism an affective moral argument for wartime generation; but younger generations increasingly indifferent to abstract antifascism; with unification to FRG’s public culture of atonement many East Germans had difficulties accepting ‘collective guilt’ </li></ul>Buchenwald memorial: unveiled in 1958, this group represents the KPD’s leading role in the resistance, with a (historically dubious) myth of the camp’s self-liberation; Buchenwald was the GDR’s main memorial site for school visits & veterans’ meetings
  14. 15. Socialist nationalism? <ul><li>Early Stalinist/SED policy stressed national unity (Stalin 1945: ‘The Hitlers come and go; the German people remains’; Stalin Notes of March 1952 offering a neutral united Germany cf Austria) </li></ul><ul><li>GDR inferiority complex towards FRG (FRG’s ‘sole representation’ of German nation & refusal to recognise GDR in Hallstein Doctrine); all East German citizens reaching FRG automatically entitled to West German passport </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Peaceful coexistence’: 1955 Khrushchev signals two German states in one nation; from 1980s policy of ‘demarcation’ (Abgrenzung) from FRG </li></ul><ul><li>Socialist humanism stressed heritage of classical greats (Goethe & Schiller at National Theatre at Weimar) </li></ul><ul><li>1980s GDR rediscovery of tradition (national poets Goethe & Schiller of Weimar; Luther anniversary; Bismarck biography; Frederick the Great statues in Berlin & Potsdam) </li></ul><ul><li>1987: East Berlin celebrates its 750 th anniversary, including historical reconstruction of Nikolai quarter & its church, as well as 19 th -century Sophienstrasse </li></ul>Thomas Müntzer, leader of 1525 peasants’ revolt in a GDR biopic: a proto-socialist? East Germany rediscovers its Prussian heritage: statues of Frederick the Great come out of mothballs on Unter den Linden, 1980s GDR flag of 1949: identical with FRG! GDR flag of 1959: with added hammer, dividers & wheat sheaves
  15. 16. ‘ The Friends’: Relations with the Soviets <ul><li>Official propaganda stressed the liberation in 1945, GDR ‘brothers in arms’ within Warsaw Pact; slogan: ‘Learning from the Soviet Union means Learning to Win!’ </li></ul><ul><li>Day-to-day relations tarnished by mass rapes of women lasting for years after 1945 </li></ul><ul><li>Dismantling of factories: ca. 30% of East German plant was removed </li></ul><ul><li>Russian was compulsory in schools but not pursued by many to a high level </li></ul><ul><li>Membership of the Society for German-Soviet Friendship was automatic in the mass organisations </li></ul><ul><li>Gorbachev: belonged to new generation of reform communists </li></ul><ul><li>Renounced Brezhnev for ‘Sinatra’ Doctrine </li></ul><ul><li>‘ If your neighbours re-wallpapered their flat would you feel obliged to redecorate yours?’ Kurt Hager </li></ul>Communist poster: ‘ This is how the Soviet Union is helping us to realise the New Course: Handing back SAG factories Cancelling reparations Lowering occupation costs Cancelling postwar debts’ Anti-communist poster: ‘ Count me out’, alluding to rape of women by Red Army Mikhail Gorbachev, face of reform communism
  16. 17. Economic decline <ul><li>Honecker’s subsidies at cost of western loans; increasing pressure to liberalise in return for loans </li></ul><ul><li>Microchip gamble: East Germany invested billions in flawed silicon experiment </li></ul><ul><li>Switch from Soviet oil to East German brown coal (environmental problems) </li></ul><ul><li>9 November 1989: SED Politburo collectively resigns over exposed debt crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis deepened into spring 1990 with emigration to West of key workers, including doctors </li></ul><ul><li>Key voting issue in March 1990 fast union with D-mark zone in West (occurred 1 July 1990) </li></ul><ul><li>Since reunification GDR suffered approx. twice unemployment rate of other FRG </li></ul><ul><li>Treuhand (Trustee) agency set to privatise East German industry; beset by corruption (even Chancellor Kohl indicted) </li></ul><ul><li>Validation of Adenauer’s 1950s ‘magnet theory’ that West Germany would draw GDR into its orbit? </li></ul>GDR’s ‘money man’, Schalck-Golodkowski, meets Bavarian minister-president, Franz Josef Strauss Bitterfeld, most polluted area of the GDR & heart of her chemicals industry
  17. 18. Civil society <ul><li>SED state claimed monopoly of representation; even strikes illegal </li></ul><ul><li>Artists & writers as substitute ‘Öffentlichkeit’ (public sphere)? </li></ul><ul><li>Wolf Biermann case: singer-songwriter & left critic of SED (which he saw as travesty of socialism); 1976 effectively deported from GDR </li></ul><ul><li>Earliest civil disobedience over freedom of travel (1973 GDR joined UN – human rights issues); beginnings of illegal contacts & groupings; white as dissident colour </li></ul><ul><li>Churches as sanctuaries for alternative groups </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental issues: pollution </li></ul><ul><li>Political issues: vote-rigging exposed in May 1989 local elections </li></ul><ul><li>Sept. 1989: several citizens’ groups emerge, including New Forum, Democratic Awakening & Initiative Peace and Human Rights </li></ul>Wolf Biermann, GDR’s enfant terrible Umweltbibliothek activists Jens Reich & B ä rbel Bohley, founders of New Forum in Sept. 1989 ‘ Namenlos’ punks perform in churchyard, 1983 Round table between SED & opposition, Dec. 1989
  18. 19. 9 October 1989: Leipzig
  19. 20. The Fall of the Wall <ul><li>May 1989: Hungarians breach iron curtain </li></ul><ul><li>Mass exodus begins; frustrated leavers seek refuge in Prague & Warsaw embassies of FRG </li></ul><ul><li>Leipzig peace marches from Nikolaikirche swell from hundreds, to thousands to hundreds of thousands; 9 October Berlin decides not to use violence </li></ul><ul><li>18 October Honecker relieved for ‘health reasons’; successor Egon Krenz not trusted by most as genuine reformer </li></ul><ul><li>Planned staged opening of Wall mishandled & becomes stampede for border crossings; GDR border troops relinquish control </li></ul>Günther Schabowski, Politburo member, at the famous press conference, 9 Nov. 1989 GDR citizens seek refuge in West German embassy in Prague

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