Ursprings of the anti-regimeprotests during totalitarism 1953 and the uprising of the East German workers crushed by Soviet troops By Martin Gradl, GMG Amberg
Contents:• 1. Background• - Increase of norms• - „The New Course“• 2. History of the uprising• - Tuesday 16 June 1953• - Wednesday 17 June 1953• 3. Effects of the 1953 Rebellion
Increase of norms• Walter Ulbricht, general • Second party secretary of the SED conference of the SED (July 1952): Ulbricht decided that the process of Sovietization should be intensified and the importance of the state expanded. Farmers who owned land or small business owners were to be forced to give up their independence through raised charges.
Increase of norms• This decision was made • The Central Committee on the background of decided to address the the catastrophic economic difficulties with economic situation in the a package of changes, which included higher country. The SED taxes and higher prices favoured the and an increase of the development of heavy work quotas by 10 % industry at the expense of („more work for the same the production of food salery“). All these and consumer goods. It changes were to come resulted in a severe crisis into force by 30 June in supplying the public 1953 (Ulbricht‘s 60th with goods. birthday).
„Spitzbart, Bauch und Brille – sind nicht des Volkes Wille“ (Goateebeard, belly and glasses – they are not the will of the nation) Walter Ulbricht, Wilhelm Pieck, Otto Grotewohl
„The New Course“• The New Course was • Investment in heavy initiated by the Soviet industry was to be cut and production of Union, but would be consumer goods stepped applied to the GDR up. Private businesses (East Germany) under that had been closed its influence. down could start up again. Farmers were• There were three major promised back their land. thrusts of the new Although the „New course: improvement Course“ led to certain material improvements, it of consumer goods, the did not address the end of terror and a productivity quotas that relaxation of had been raised in May ideological standards. 1953.
History of the uprising Tuesday 16 June 1953• On 16 June 300 East • The West Berlin-based Berlin construction „Radio in the American workers went on strike Sector RIAS“ reported after their superiors the Berlin events and announced a pay cut this probably helped to if they did not meet incite the uprising in their work quota. Their other parts of East numbers quickly Germany. swelled and a general strike and protests were called for the next day.
Wednesday 17 June 1953• Throughout the night of 16 • On improved banners June and early morning of and posters the 17 June, the news of events demonstrators in East Berlin spread quickly demanded the norm throughout the GDR. rescission, price Crowds of workers began to decreases, the release of gather in public places, and fellow protestors who had began marching towards been arrested the day the city center. Along with before, and even free all- SED and FDJ functionaries, German elections. In the police officials tried – usually morning about 25000 without success – to people were gathered in convince the marchers to front of the House of return to their workplaces Ministries, and tens of and homes. thousands more were on the way.
Wednesday 17 June 1953• Some demonstrators • But fighting between Soviet apparently managed to forces (and later GDR storm the government seat, police) and the visibly demonstrating that demonstrators continued the 500 members of GDR into the afternoon and People`s Police and State night. The original demands Security had been of the protestors, such as overpowered. Only the the reinstatement of the sudden appearance of previous lower work quotas, Soviet military vehicles, and turned into political then tanks, seemed to demands. Eventually the prevent a complete workers demanded the takeover. Within an hour, resignation of the East Soviet troops had cleared German government. The and isolated the area government decided to use around the government force to stop the uprising headquarters. and turned to the Soviet Union for military support.
Wednesday 17 June 1953 • In Berlin, where Soviet troops and Volkspolizei opened fire, several people were killed by the Volkspolizei. It is still unclear how many people died during the uprising. The number of known victims is 55 – other estimates put the number of victims at least 125.
Effects of the 1953 Rebellion• The fundamental lesson • For the Ulbricht government the result learned by the new was what they called the Soviet leader Nikita „Third purge“ (politische Chrustschow was that Säuberung). Over 12000 were dismissed from the the Soviet revolution People`s Police imposed on the (Volkspolizei ) for unreliability. The Stasi was German people had to be made much not been accepted stronger to prevent such and the severe a rebellion from happening again. Erich reparations were Mielke got the new chief causing too much of a of the Stasi. strain.