"This is not a Politburo, but a madhouse," The post World War II Sovietization of East Germany up to the 1953 worker's uprising

"This is not a Politburo, but a madhouse," The post World War II Sovietization of East Germany up to the 1953 worker's uprising

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"This is not a Politburo, but a madhouse," The post World War II Sovietization of East Germany up to the 1953 worker's uprising
Taylor, Rush H
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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East German crisis
Cold War
Dissertations, Academic -- Liberal Studies -- Masters -- USF
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: The end of World War II brought forth many problems for the allies that had not been completely resolved by the victors. One of the most important was what to do with the defeated Germany. Within the first decade after World War II, the division of the former German superpower had become the front line of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the first eight years after the war (1945-53) East Germany, the Soviet controlled sector, quickly became 'Stalin's unwanted child' and was the first communist country to rebel against the imposed Soviet style socialism. The post war build up and Sovietization of East Germany was the catalyst for the 1953 East German uprising, which became the model that other Soviet influenced countries followed (Hungary, Czechoslovakia). After viewing internal Soviet documents sent from East Germany to Soviet Foreign Ministers and reviewing interviews with eyewitnesses, it is clear that the 1953 East German uprising was a worker's revolt triggered by the ill treatment they received from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was not a popular uprising (a revolt where much of the population is represented by specific groups).
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Rush H. Taylor.

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"This is not a Politburo, but a madhouse," The post World War II Sovietization of East Germany up to the 1953 worker's uprising.
h [electronic resource] /
by Rush H. Taylor.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
3 520
ABSTRACT: The end of World War II brought forth many problems for the allies that had not been completely resolved by the victors. One of the most important was what to do with the defeated Germany. Within the first decade after World War II, the division of the former German superpower had become the front line of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the first eight years after the war (1945-53) East Germany, the Soviet controlled sector, quickly became 'Stalin's unwanted child' and was the first communist country to rebel against the imposed Soviet style socialism. The post war build up and Sovietization of East Germany was the catalyst for the 1953 East German uprising, which became the model that other Soviet influenced countries followed (Hungary, Czechoslovakia). After viewing internal Soviet documents sent from East Germany to Soviet Foreign Ministers and reviewing interviews with eyewitnesses, it is clear that the 1953 East German uprising was a worker's revolt triggered by the ill treatment they received from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was not a popular uprising (a revolt where much of the population is represented by specific groups).
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 53 pages.
Adviser: Graydon A. Tunstall, Ph.D.
East German crisis.
Cold War.
Dissertations, Academic
x Liberal Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856
u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?e14.1498


This is Not a Politburo, But a Madhouse, The Post World War II Sovietization of East Germany Up to the 1953 Workers Uprising by Rush H. Taylor A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of L iberal Arts Department of Humanities and American Studies College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Graydon A. Tunstall, Ph.D. Golfo Alexopolous, Ph.D. Case Boterbloem, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 8, 2006 Keyword s: East German Crisis, Revolution, Socialism, Cold War, Communism Copyright 2006, Rush H. Taylor


i Table of Contents Abstract ii Introduction 1 Zones of Influence 3 Post World War II Buildup 5 Creation of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) 10 Soviet Reparations Policy for East Germany 15 Goals of Soviet Restructuring 16 Life in East Germany versus Life in West Germany 20 Towards Soviet Style Socialism 21 Stalins Death: A Turning Point 25 Problems in Soviet Satellites 26 GDR Not the Only Problem 28 New Course equals New Hope 30 Workers Uprising or Popular Revolt? 32 Was the West a Cataly st? 34 Local Nature of Strikes 38 The GDR Reaction 40 The GDRs Rectification Program 43 Effects of the East German Uprising 45 Unexpected Outcome of the Uprising 46 Conclusion 47 References Cited 48 Bibliography 51


ii This is Not a Politburo, But a Madhouse, The Post World War II Sovietization of East Germany Up to the 1953 Workers Uprising Rush H. Taylor ABSTRACT The end of World War II brought forth many problems for the allies that had not been completely resolved by the victors. One of the most important was what to do with the defeated Germany. Within the first decade after World War II, the division of the former German superpower had become the front line of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the first eight years after the war (1945 53) East Germany, the Soviet controlled sector, quickly became Stalins unwanted child and was the first communist country to rebel against the imposed Soviet style socialism. The post war build up and Soviet ization of East Germany was the catalyst for the 1953 East German uprising, which became the model that other Soviet influenced countries followed (Hungary, Czechoslovakia). After viewing internal Soviet documents sent from East Germany to Soviet Foreign Ministers and reviewing interviews with eyewitnesses, it is clear that the 1953 East German uprising was a workers revolt triggered by the ill treatment they received from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was not a popular uprising (a revolt where much of the population is represented by specific groups).


1 Introduction Within the first decade after World War II, the division of the former German superpower had become the front line of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the first eight years after the war (1945 53) East Germany, the Soviet controlled sector, quickly became Stalins unwanted child and was the first communist country to rebel against imposed Soviet style socialism. The post war build up and Sovietization of East Germany was the catalyst for the 1953 East German u prising, which became the model that other Soviet influenced countries followed (Hungary, Czechoslovakia). The end of World War II brought forth many problems for the Allies that had not been completely resolved by the victors. One of the most important wa s what to do with the defeated Germany. The final design of dividing Germany into sections was a result of the European Advisory Commissions (EAC) attempt to ensure the demilitarization and democratization of the aggressor nation. But the repercussions of such an action turned out to be much more than the simple rebuilding of a defeated Germany. New sources have come to the forefront of East German history with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1992 Hungary, East Germany and the Soviet Union opened up their archives to historians and a flood of new material concerning the complete and accurate history of the communist countries became available. When the archives opened in 1992, a flood of new material became available to the public. This has enabled academi cs to begin the process of analyzing the events


2 surrounding the Sovietization of East Germany that inexorably lead to the 1953 East German uprising. By piecing together information from these newly available sources (in my case specifically East German Arc hives, Hungarian Central Archives, Archives of the Russian General Staff, and Archive of Foreign Policy of Russian Federation) and recently produced secondary sources, a new interpretation of the events leading up to and the ramifications of the 1953 East German workers' uprising is beginning to take form. After viewing internal Soviet documents sent from East Germany to Soviet Foreign Ministers and reviewing interviews with eyewitnesses, it is clear that the 1953 East German uprising was a workers revolt t riggered by the ill treatment they received from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was not a popular uprising, a revolt where specific groups represented much of the population. However, the East German uprising must be viewed against the backdrop o f the rise of the Soviet satellite state that preceded it.


3 Zones of Influence The treaty that ended the European phase of World War II also ended the existence of a single unified German state. The allies had no clear idea during and immediatel y after the war concerning what should be done with defeated Germany. Although quite radical plans for its dismemberment and reconstitution as a number of smaller states had been mooted during the war, such a scheme had never actually been approved. The e ventual division of Germany four years later was an ad hoc, unintended result of the emerging Cold War between the superpowers, rather than the outcome of conscious Allied policies for Germany. 1 The victorious Allied powers divided Germany into four zon es of occupation (British, French, American and Soviet). The British, French, and American sectors were located in West Germany and comprised close to 70 percent of Germanys total area. The Soviet Union's occupation zone was comprised of the eastern 1/3 o f Germany (known as East Germany) plus East Berlin. The Allies who controlled West Germanys fate had problems of their own: Britain could barely feed their population and the United States decided punishing former Nazis was less important than containing the spread of communism. Thus it was that West Germany became an ally in the fight to defend freedom and democracy against the evils of totalitarian communism. 2 Although Stalin continually said that he wanted East Germany to become a democratic state his real intention was for East Germany and the other Soviet satellites


4 (e.g., Hungary and Czechoslovakia) to follow their own national roads to socialism without obvious Soviet intervention. 3 But, according to Konrad Jarausch, to most outside observers the East German state remained an indistinct country, overshadowed both by the hegemonic power of the Soviet Union over its own bloc and by the larger size and economic influence of its Western twin, the Federal republic. 4 From the outset, the Soviets sought to transform their zone into something more akin to the Soviet mold. The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) were founded as conscious attempts to develop new forms of state and society, radically breaking wit h the Nazi past, and based on explicit political ideologies and theories of society. 5 They were in effect tests in reality of opposing theories of how to create a good society.


5 Post World War II Build Up Following Stalins plans, the Sovi etization started with the resurgence of the Communist party in Germany by inserting handpicked party members back into Germany to revitalize the almost forgotten group. Immediately after the Soviets occupied East Germany a group of leading German Communis t Party (KPD) functionaries was sent from Moscow to different sections of the Soviet zone of occupation. Walter Ulbricht, who would become the key politician affecting the future of East Germany, was the head of the group and went to Berlin; Anton Ackerman n was sent to Saxony; Gustav Sabottka went to Mecklenburg. One Soviet military document indicated that the work of these groups was to organize the population in the manner desired by the Soviet authorities rather than initiate immediately independent Ger man political activity. 6 They were to establish and organize a newspaper, radio, book publishing and local law enforcement in their areas. The men were directed to purge the local existing government offices and schools. The groups were responsible for ch oosing a mayor for each town and establishing a central government made up of anti Nazi personnel. Though they were not identical in composition they had the appearance of having been put together according to a formula. Often the mayor was non party or h ad belonged to one of the small Liberal parties before 1933. His deputy would normally be a communist. A number of appointments were made on the basis of technical knowledge, there was usually a sprinkling of Christians, a fairly strong Social Democrat gro up, and a strong Communist presence. 7


6 This democratic East Germany would act as a springboard for the German Communist Party (KPD) to take control of the country in the future. Since Stalin could not afford to jeopardize his fragile relations with the Western powers by attempting to create East Germany as a communist state during the countrys infancy, he decided to Sovietize East Germany slowly and somewhat removed from the Soviet Union. To accomplish this goal, Stalin used Ulbricht to increase the p ower of the KPD in Germany and to seek out new members. Ulbrichts motto was it must look democratic, but we must control everything. 8 Stalin knew that communists had played a significant role in German politics. In 1933, the KPD controlled about five mi llion votes and had an active underground organization. Stalin hoped to re ignite the East German communist party by placing handpicked communist officials in positions of authority throughout the GDR. 9 Communists and Social Democrats emerged in towns and cities all over East Germany as the war was winding down. They were deeply influenced by the twelve years of Nazi tyranny and oppression. Contact between members in both groups was slight during the Third Reichs regime. The organizations attempted to kee p functioning underground, but quickly realized the ferocity of Nazi persecution. 10 This led to small pockets of Communists and Social Democrats spread throughout the country with no effective means of communicating with each other or the outside world. In some cases there were multiple groups in the same town that were unaware of each others presence. When the Soviets arrived in search of communists, they found that many of the KPD and German Socialist Party (SPD) members were teaching old fashioned ideolo gies that had not been used in the Soviet Union since the late twenties and early thirties. In a


7 report drawn up by the Leipzig KPD in the summer of 1945, it was concluded that the isolation of party members made it extremely difficult for them to keep up with events and to interpret correctly the national and international situation. 11 In practice, the Soviets attempted to balance the small active minority with the passive majority by allowing the minority to get involved in fundamental changes while not upsetting the general population. The KPD described its main goals in the Appeal of 11 June 1945, which declared that, although the entire German population must share some responsibility for the Nazis actions, the majority of the blame would be directe d at Nazi leaders, their hangers on and accomplices. 12 KPD officials announced that all essential public services (water, gas, electricity) must be brought under public ownership and all land owned by the Nazi leaders would be expropriated. All these clai ms were aimed at pacifying the general population. The KPD also assured the East German people that they were not attempting to Sovietize East Germany (even though they were). They asserted that all their efforts were aimed at creating an anti fascist, democratic regime, a parliamentary democratic republic with all democratic rights and freedoms for the people. 13 At that point, the KPD made it appear that they wanted nothing more than to gain the trust of the masses. They worked along side other anti fa scist organizations and claimed that they were now a peoples party rather than an elite group that few were allowed to join. By trying to appeal to both the active minority and the passive Nazi influenced majority, the KPD ended up pleasing neither. It was said: The political orientation of the Soviets and the KPD leadership was always in danger of falling between two stools: neither radical enough for the activists nor conservative enough for the Nazi influenced


8 masses. As a result, the whole united fr ont strategy was inherently unstable, for it presupposed a degree of political cohesion in the population that simply did not exist. 14 The KPD and SPD both had problems controlling lower level functionaries posted to the distant provinces. These men, who had spent the last decade under Nazi rule, were confused by the new party doctrines. This was important because, if the anti fascist bloc could not control them through political means, then they would have to turn to forceful means of control. One of the many problems confronting the hard line KPD members was the idea that the party should become a Peoples Party rather than remain the traditional elite caste that it once was. Such a transformation could only take place if the party became open to the wo rking class, farmers, peasants, students, and non traditional party members. Many established members expressed disgust for this plan because they spent twelve years under Nazi oppression while the common folk had blindly supported Hitler and his regime. The idea of allowing these people to join the party now, without recourse taken against them for their actions, did not sit well with the party elite. 15 In response to this opposition, Ulbricht brought in many young communists and tactically removed the o lder communists who would not conform to the new policies. In Leipzig for instance, the KPD leadership sent out the instruction that older KPD members who are no longer so flexiblemay not insist on being given posts which are beyond their capabilities. 16 One ex KPD member, Oskar Hippe, said of the situation: Many older comrades turned their backs on the party because they were not prepared to tolerate the policies of Walter UlbrichtAt demonstrations, they watched from the sides of the streets as bysta nders. 17


9 In order to help bolster its membership, the KPD utilized German Communist Party POWs held in Czechoslovakia by the Russians to revamp the party after the war. But some (about 30 percent), who were not presented with an accurate portrayal of occ upied East Germany, fled West upon gaining their freedom from their Soviet oppressors. The most important factor used to decide which POWs would be released in order to help rebuild the KPD, was whether or not the prisoner had had ties to the Nazis or to the Hitler Youth. As one official said: Particular education is not mandatory, only being able to write and speak good German. 18 Stalin believed that he would have to revolutionize East Germany's various social, economic and political factions because t he Soviet Union would inevitably once again be confronted by a revitalized, revived, and hopefully reunified Germany. By letting the East Germans follow their own path to socialism, Stalin intended that the Soviet Union would not be cast in the role of a r uffian, but, rather, would be viewed as a "big brother" figure who was there to "help the East Germans to recovery. That plan worked slowly, but surely, in most of the Soviet satellite countries except East Germany.


10 Creation of the Socialist Unit y Party (SED) In 1945, Stalin sought to merge two of East Germanys most powerful political parties in an attempt to create a single unified working class party which he could later control. In a speech given in November 1945, Ulbricht and Wilhelm Pieck ha rped on the fact that division within the working class movement must be replaced by unity. 19 The unity they had in mind was to result from joining the KPD and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Ulbricht and Pieck threatened SPD members that to disagree with the Communists appeal for unity was to split both the working class and the nation. 20 The KPD needed the SPD to ensure Stalins vision of a united SED. In April 1946 the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) merged t o create the Socialist Unity Party (SED) as a result of Soviet compulsion and self deception. 21 On 4 February, Otto Grotewohl, chairman of the SPD from 1945 46, said: not only was the strongest pressure being brought to bear on them personally (he spoke of being tickled by Russian bayonets)their organization in the provinces had been completely undermined there was no point in resistingthe iron curtainhad come to stay. 22 Otto Buchwitz, a former leader of the SPD, put forth four reasons why he though t unification was necessary: First, communist leaders believed that after the Nazi tyranny, a dictatorship was not possible; second, revolutionary socialism was the next logical step after the failure of Weimar reformism; third, socialism was already laid out in Russia and the Western powers wanted to bring back a bourgeois capitalist order; fourth, even though the Soviets were pressuring the SPD, they had no


11 interest in imposing their system on Germany. SPD members also recognized that they would make up over half of the new partys membership and, therefore, the party would be molded to their standards. 23 Unification took considerably longer than either party had anticipated. Factionalism ran rampant throughout the party. By the middle of 1948, the SED had about two million members, some 600,000 of whom were former Communists, 680,000 of whom were former Social Democrats, but over 700,000 of whom had joined only since unification. 24 As one historian observed, striking cultural differences remained; for example, the Social Democrats use of the polite Sie for you, against the communists preference for the informal Du in conversation. On the political level two main tendencies could be discerned: Sectarianism on the left and sympathy for the West Ge rman SPD on the right. 25 One former SPD member believed that soon the party would be reformed and when this happened that many of the ex SED members would join the re founded SPD. In May 1948 a group of main line former Social Democrats (SD) met at Max Fe chners (high ranking SD member) house to discuss how the two socialist traditions split the party rather than uniting them and swore to limit the power of the standoffish Walter Ulbricht. But, in the ensuing weeks, the group disintegrated. The height of Stalinization in East Germany began with the first party conference of the SED in 1948, at which the party leadership elected a Politburo that would lead the party in the direction of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. The SED took a decidedly stronger turn toward t he Sovietization of East Germany. The East German Supreme Court was established in late 1949 and convicted over 78,000 people of political crimes in 1950


12 alone. 26 Many Social Democrats were quickly purged from the party as the SED called on its members to e xpose the bourgeois nationalist elements because they were enemies of the state. Stalin and his followers of the Soviet bloc, such as Ulbricht, threw overboard the excess baggage of the dissonant memories of World War II and the Holocaust as they turned t he shape of the state around to fight the Western imperialists. 27 Ulbricht proclaimed the SED a party of a new type, which referred to a party based on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, rather than the SEDs previous tenets. This proclamation prov ed to be the beginning of the turn from the former German road to socialism to an all out push toward the Soviet model of communism. The party was transformed from a mass membership party into a cadre party, full of active revolutionary members. This all owed the SED to purge unwanted or undesirable members and to control more effectively the admission of new comrades. 28 As the SED implemented new policies, other East German parties were transformed into instruments of Soviet policy. In June 1948 Ulbricht, used his control of the SED to rid the party of all those suspected of harboring sympathy for social democratic ideals. He accused these men of infiltrating the party and sabotaging its operations. Some people believed that by the autumn of 1948 it was mor e dangerous to be a former member of the SPD than an active Nazi. 29 As with the purges in the Soviet Union, those who opposed the action taken by the SED were imprisoned and sometimes shot. Between 1948 and 1950 almost 600 members of the Christian Democrati c Union (CDU), a right of center moderately conservative Christian party, were imprisoned. Many of the captives mysteriously died or disappeared in 1950. 30 Thousands of former and current SPD members were tracked down and arrested for resisting the new poli cies.


13 Ulbricht sought young recruits whose minds were still impressionable, rather than allowing the longtime, powerful, members to express their disgust with the direction the SED was heading. In his attempt to bring new members into the SED (including e x communists who were scared of joining because of their Nazi pasts), Ulbricht declared in a speech that a persons current political attitudes were more important than previous actions: Today, the measure of who is a peace loving individual and who seeks German unity is not what party membership book they had earlier, and whether or not they belonged to the Hitler party. Rather, the only measure is: Are you for a peace treaty? Are you against the Atlantic Pact, as a result of which West Germany would be ma de into a base for war? Are you for the unity of Germany? Are you for the withdrawal of occupation troops following the conclusion of a peace treaty, or are you for a forty year occupation and colonization of West Germany? Today, under these conditions, an yone who raised the question Is this person a former member of the Nazi party or not works against the formation of a National Front. 31 Getting people to join the SED was not an easy task for Ulbricht. The majority of Germans who survived the war wanted nothing more than to put food on the table and attempt to piece their pre war lives back together. Politics, in their minds, was closely associated with Nazism and very few were interested in getting involved again. The shortage of food took precedence ov er any political aspirations: The major part of the population still remains politically reserved. In particular the middle classes, which lived through the period of the Wilhelmine system and the period of the Weimar Republic to their great


14 disappointmen t, but which took fresh hope from National Socialism and which are now witness to the downfall of the National Socialist regime, have lost faith in everything. Trust in any new political movement does not yet exist among them. 32


15 Soviet Reparations Policy for East Germany The Soviet Union initially had three main goals in East Germany: first to equip occupying forces with the necessary supplies; second to secure the payment of reparations; and finally to insure the basic needs of the German population. 33 As early as 1943 the Russians planned to take equipment rather than money in satisfaction of East Germanys reparations obligations. This was a Soviet version of industrial disarmament policy aimed at reducing Germany to an agrar ian economy. 34 Post World War II East Germany was not stable economically either. What became East Germany was historically central Germany. Although not uniform throughout the region, this area did have a rich industrial base that offered some of the mos t advanced technology in the world. Much of the land around Berlin was primarily agricultural, but within the city there were large concentrations of industry. The East Germans were famous for their ability to produce the highest quality machine tools and machines, having provided up to 80 per cent of Germanys machinery before World War II. East Germany was also home to important chemical plants located close to Leipzig and Merseburg which produced dye, film, and synthetic rubber. By the end of the war, Ea st Germany had the largest chemical company in Germany both in number of employees and capacity (Leuna plant). 35


16 Goals of Soviet Restructuring Disassembling industrial plants in East Germany and removing them to the Soviet Union accomplished two of Rus sias three goals, by ensuring that Germany could never attack Russia again and improving Russias own industrial base by using German materials and technology taken from the Soviet zone of occupation. The first problem was retooling the plants for peaceti me production. A second problem was the lack of research and development to aid in technological innovation. Berlin was home to some key companies in this field, but the vast majority were stationed in West Berlin. The foremost companies that did have rese arch and development capacities, like Zeiss (a world leader in optics), lost many of their top scientists when the American occupation authorities evacuated the Soviet zone in 1945 (Zeiss lost 84 of their scientific and technological personnel in the evacu ation 36 ). Since many of the major companies were located in West Germany, East Germany also lost many of its top level managers. In some cases, whole corporations relocated toward the end of the war. Siemens, for instance, moved from Berlin to Munich. 37 In 1945 the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) assessed the damage done to the German economy by allied strategic bombing. It concluded that, although the collapse of the German economy was due to heavy bombing, the Allies did very little damage to German industrial capacities. The majority of the damage was inflicted upon the oil industry and infrastructure systems (rail lines, sewage, water, etc.). Industrial


17 factories had little exterior damage, and even less harm was done to the machinery inside. 38 Th e USSBS also found marked regional differences in the amount of damage. Even though the Soviet zone contained important industrial factories that produced war materials including chemical and rubber production, comparatively few facilities were affected by the allied bombing strategy. The GDR only lost 15 percent of its 1944 capacity, whereas the Federal Republic lost 22 percent of its industrial capacity. 39 In general, the damage to buildings far exceeded the damage to industrial plants throughout Germany. The majority of factories had the ability to resume production only weeks after the war ended. Much more damage was done to the East German industrial capacity when Russia removed whole factories. For instance: Aluminum and magnesium capacitywas intact at wars end, but stood at zero in September 1946. Magnesium oxide capacity was removed entirely. Ninety five percent of automobile tire production plant was dismantled. Eighty percent of soda capacity disappeared. All of these were sectors that had surviv ed the war intact. 40 What did the Soviet Union intend to do with these factories? The majority of facilities that had been designed specifically for wartime production were removed. Their uses, as they stood, were limited. The machines would need to be re tooled and reconfigured for peacetime production. Also, wartime manufacture was constant, so the machines and parts used to produce goods would need to be replaced soon because of their extreme use.


18 Some of the factories that were removed to the Soviet Un ion were rendered useless and discarded, but many were put to good use. The Soviets studied plant removal carefully, so as to figure out which plants were salvageable and which were not. Therefore, they were much more prepared to remove quality plants and selected their targets deliberately: The Soviets concentrated on plants containing equipment and machines that could be safely transported. Close comparison of removals in Manchuria and East Germany indicates that almost 100 percent of removals had high s alvage value and were easily transported, i.e., machine tools, precision instruments, and small items of equipment not made of fabricated sheet metal. On the other hand, the Western Allies in Europe appear to have concentrated their removals on plants with relatively low salvage value. 41 The Soviets focused on machines, not systems. This allowed them to incorporate the machines into their own pre existing systems. The Soviets also seized scientific papers and documents to help further their own research an d development. They also forced large numbers of engineers and scientists to move to the Soviet Union to work on R&D projects there. According to David Holloway, The war provided the Soviet Union with a major infusion of foreign technology, mainly in form of captured German scientists, technicians, equipment and production plant. 42 Around 3,000 specialists and their families were transported to the Soviet Union and detained for up to twelve years. 43 Their fields ranged from optics and nuclear research to aeronautics. This action hindered technological development in East Germany by instilling fear in the remaining scientists and engineers who saw what would happen if


19 the Soviets thought they could be utilized in the Soviet Union. This caused a large numbe r of leading scientists and engineers to flee West from the GDR. However, the industrial losses were only one facet of the Soviets plan to transform East Germany into the German Democratic Republic.


20 Life in East Germany versus Life in West Germany East Germany was a special case. As a divided country with a divided former capital, comparisons between the life in the capitalist West and life in the communist East were impossible to avoid. By 1948 it was clear that the East Germans were v ery poor in comparison to their counterparts in West Germany, and the difference in quality of life between the two was marked. While the Marshal Plan pumped money into the West German economy, allowing it to expand and prosper, the Soviet Unions forced r eparation payments had the opposite effect on the East German economy. East Berliners were reminded daily of the vast difference in standard of living. A British Broadcasting Corporation correspondent in West Germany observed, any East German could go to West Berlin at anytime, by simply crossing into West Berlin . 44 This freedom to travel from East Berlin to West Berlin was a fundamental cause of dissatisfaction because the experience of visitors to West Berlin served as the most powerful propagand a, the effect of the things in the shops, a much better life, better dressed people, freedom to travel. 45 East Germans became jealous of the wealth afforded to the West Germans and questioned the East German and Soviet goals for East Germany. The stark c ontrast in living standard so close to home obviously acted as a catalyst to spread discontent. Seeing the difference in wealth inhibited East Germans from ever truly accepting communist rule. Thus Stalin needed to tighten the Soviet grip of East Germany.


21 Towards Soviet Style Socialism Believing (and rightly so) that he was losing his hold on East Germany, in 1948 Ulbricht introduced a plan of accelerated industrialization and collectivization in an attempt to speed up the process of East Germany becomi ng a socialist nation. This was the final retreat from his original plan of allowing each nation to follow its own road to socialism and led to a bout of ruthless Sovietization during which all Soviet satellites were forced to introduce Soviet economic and political practices. This Soviet style terror was introduced between 1948 and 1953. In 1952, at the Second Conference of the SED, an accelerated construction of socialism was introduced by Ulbricht, which put major strains on industrial workers by raisin g their output quotas by up to ten percent. It was obvious that the East German people were unhappy with the way in which their state was heading. Although the Soviets had dreams of a united popular front in the west, which would aid the Soviets in their i nitial quest for a united Germany, the increased Sovietization created an incurable rift that inexorably split the two Germanys further and further apart: Ideological dogmatism created a new political reality, since it meant that the state had to undersco re the importance of an effective security system which saw a tremendous expansion after 1950. It also found expression in the tightening of East German criminal codes, such as the draconian Law regarding the protecting of inner German trade, and influen ced the GDR judicial system in the establishment of which Stalin was supposed to have exercised decisive assistance. 46


22 Many forms of repression were put in place during this time period, although the class war that was instituted in the GDR was more on an ideological level rather than the bloody purges of most Eastern Bloc nations. The Soviets professed that the elimination of Western, decadent influences was intended to be constructive in a certain way art and culture of the Soviet Union were a bet ter alternative, while Soviet science had long surpassed the science of the capitalist countries. 47 This repression resulted in reactions by those being subjugated including flight to the West, passive resistance, and acts of desperation. These reactions in turn brought forth more repressive acts, some in the form of Soviet Directives. The Soviet Directives put forth in 1952 were viewed as an illustration of how outside influences affected the progression of the GDR. Western powers rejected an offer put fo rth by the Soviet Union to re unify Germany on the condition that the new Germany would remain politically neutral. Stalin said, that irrespective of any proposals that we can make on the German question the Western powers will not agree with them and wil l not withdraw from Germany in any case. It would be a mistake to think that a compromise might emerge or that the Americans will agree with the draft of the peace treaty. 48 Ulbricht and Stalin, therefore, knew that the Western powers would not agree to th eir proposal, and the Western powers denial allowed Stalin to announce that the GDR would have to create its own army and establish agricultural cooperatives. 49 If the West accepted the re unification of Germany, it would have hindered the Western assimi lation of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, or West Germany). Ulbricht followed this announcement with another bout of Sovietization, which not only led to the creation of a peoples army and of agriculture collectives, but also to the


23 abolition of t he previous states of the GDR, the creation of a centralized administration along Soviet lines, and the tightening of border controls towards West Germany. There were two key directives involved in the further Sovietization of the GDR. The first was the ab olition of the private sector in industrial production from the end of 1952, the people would own the factories (at least eighty one percent of them). The second was the collectivization of agricultural production. The state punished landowners by adding new repressive measures to the transformations. The landowners were accused of sabotaging attempts to feed the populace. 50 The GDR leadership proclaimed all East German youth were to be prepared to serve Germany in the form of military service. The creatio n of a new army would eventually cost the GDR 500 million Deutsch Marks, not including foodstuffs, which would be taken away from other consumers. 51 The GDR had not planned for the creation of a military and therefore had not included it in the 1952 53 budg et. Money and specialists, whose expertise was necessary to the armament of East Germany, had to be taken from other projects. 52 In July 1952 the SED declared that no offices could employ any young men between the ages of 18 and 24 in an industrial capacit y. These men were to serve as barracked police troops. The SED turned to the nations young women to fill in the industrial workforce gap. Although this helped move women toward greater employment, the economy was still on the verge of collapse because o f the cost of reparations payments the GDR owed the Soviets and the Soviet Directives that were in various stages of implementation. The SED seemed unable to recognize the growing sense of dissatisfaction or the reasons for such discontent. Thus further me asures only served to


24 further worsen conditions. For instance, the party attempted to relieve foodstuff shortages by suspending rationing for certain groups, which failed to relieve the specific situation and only created new frustrations. 53 The number of East Germans fleeing to the West increased from 166,000 in 1951 to 182,000 in 1952. 54 West Germany proved appealing because of the higher salaries and standard of living caused by the Korea Boom. The Korean War led to increased economic output and urgency in both Germanys, but West Germany offered many more incentives and money for similar positions in East Germany. In essence, West Germany was rapidly becoming more established as a productive state with the ability to direct its own government and people. East Germany, on the other hand, was becoming more destabilized. West Berlin acted as a destabilizing catalyst for the GDR, especially among the youth by offering people an image of a better life for their families. East German youth traveled across the borders in huge numbers, seeking out all that Western technology and science had produced (televisions in store windows, record players, etc). Walter Ulbricht knew that this could be extremely dangerous and stated in June 1952 that any university student w ho had connections to the West would be expelled. The death of Stalin on March 5, 1953 brought a period of even greater uncertainty and confusion.


25 Stalins Death: A Turning Point Stalins death marked a turning point for Soviet satellites and the futur e of Soviet strength in East Central Europe. When he died, East Germans hoped for change. Stalin had not selected a clear successor. Therefore the top four or five party officials struggled to seize Stalins position. The post succession Kremlin power stru ggle put all external issues on a back burner during what proved to be an inflammatory time for the satellite countries, especially East Germany. According to Sergo Beria, Laverentii Berias son, Khrushchev, Malenkov, Bulganin and Beria came up with a plan for deciding who Stalins successor would be. Beria proposed that Malenkov succeed Stalin, because he had a weak personality and would be easily controllable. 55 Beria knew what Malenkov amounted to but considered that he was good enough for the role he me ant to let him play. 56 When Georgi Malenkov was named Stalins successor the SED hoped that the he would answer its cry for help. Ulbricht and the SED had requested aid on numerous occasions to assist the GDRs failing economy and in April of 1953 Ulbricht again requested massive aid infusions to halt the total collapse of the East German economy. 57 The Soviets denied all Ulbrichts reports as fabrications. When Russia finally requested its own studies of the mounting problems in East Germany in late April 1 953, the Politburo was astounded. 58


26 Problems in the Soviet Satellites The Soviet study concluded that over 447,000 people had fled East Germany from January 1951 to April 1953. Many of these refugees were workers, scientists, and youths, which the SED desperately needed to keep East Germany afloat. A number of these people were peasants and farmers, which led to 26 per cent of the agricultural land lying fallow. During a four month period in 1953 more than 2,700 SED members and candidates fled. 59 This is important because the SED was the governing party and further proves that the discontent was pervasive throughout society. The intensification of class struggle was one motivating factor that led to the increase in the number of people leaving the GDR. 60 These problems were pinned on Ulbricht because he acted as a dictator rather than as the leader of a group. In early 1953, the USSR Council of Ministers convened to decide the GDR's fate. They believed that Ulbricht and the SED had implemented Stalins r apid industrialization plan without the presence of its real prerequisites, both internally and internationally. 61 The SED forcibly developed a heavy industry which lacked raw materials, restricted private initiative and revoked food ration cards from pri vate entrepreneurs. They also hastily built agricultural cooperatives without foundations in the countryside where there were no supply routes. Additionally, this era of crash socialization was marred by harsh regimentation and persecution, as extensive ar rests and trials accompanying the new policy added to the pressures on the East Germany socio economic fabric. 62 Ultimately, East German production fell as a result of Ulbrichts industrialization measures.


27 The Soviet leadership concluded that it was time f or change. Laverentii Beria, one of the top members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), investigated the possibility of allowing the GDR to stray from its present socialist path. He believed that the GDR had failed to become a socialist sta te and that now the only path was one of accommodation. He sought a unified Germany governed by a coalition government. Beria particularly wanted to get rid of Ulbricht, and personally blamed him for the failure of the GDR. Beria sought an East Germany tha t would have an autonomous government in a re unified Germany, where both Soviet and Western influences played an equal role. 63


28 GDR not the only problem East Germany was not the only Soviet satellite that experienced such egregious problems Hungary also dealt with many similar issues while attempting to cope with the ruthless Stalinisation program instituted in 1948. In Hungary, during just a two and half year period more than 1.5 of 9.5 million people were persecuted much in the same fash ion as East Germans. The army soldiers punished 177,000 in little more than a year, almost one punishment for every person in the army. 64 Nikolai Bulganin, one of the new leaders of the CPSU, said of the Hungarian situation This is not the road to sociali sm, but the road to catastrophe. 65 Hungary built iron plants for which no country or foreign government had promised iron ore, a natural resource Hungary lacked. They implemented collectivization without the appropriate economic base, which led to the coll ectives having a lower productivity rate than individual producers. Additionally there were no quality goods in Hungary because the best goods had to be exported attempting to achieve a balanced trade, similar to the GDR. 66 Another similarity between Hunga ry and East Germany was that the Soviets leadership blamed the top political figure for the problems within the country. It was obvious to the Soviets that their satellites were inexorably heading for a complete breakdown. In Hungary, Matyas Rakosi ruled m uch like Stalin in Russia and Ulbricht in East Germany. He had no second in command, because he considered the people surrounding him to be incompetent. In a meeting between Soviet and Hungarian leaders,


29 Rakosi could not name his primary deputy because wh enever someones name came up, comrade Rakosi always immediately had some kind of objection. 67 Rakosi blamed his bossiness on direct teachings from Stalin. When the Soviets confronted Rakosi about his dictatorial style he said regarding hubris, thats a n illness that one cannot detect, just like one can not smell ones own odor. 68 Another satellite country that experienced problems was Yugoslavia under Tito (Josip Broz). Tito was a Croatian communist who devised a political program in 1944 that emphasiz ed federalism and self determination, which appealed to many. Under Tito, Yugoslavia was one of very few nations to liberate itself from the German Army. This accomplishment was possible because Hitler had to move troops from Yugoslavia to fight on the Rus sian front and also because the Red Army sent direct aid. Tito instituted a federal structure, as promised. His independent line resulted in Yugoslavia becoming a key member of the worlds non aligned movement and also led to the country being excluded f rom the Soviet orbit in 1949. Ulbricht, as the head of the SED had similar problems with authority and implementing the Soviets plans for the GDR.


30 New Course equals New Hope Before the Soviets put forth the New Course, they discussed a multi tude of options pertaining to the strengthening of the East German peoples opinion towards the Soviet Union and socialism. The Soviet Ministers believed it was crucial to correct and strengthen the political and economic situation in the GDR and to stren gthen significantly the influence of the SED in the broad masses of workers and in other democratic strata of the city and country. 69 It was agreed that the recent propaganda about the necessity of the GDRs transition to socialism which pushed the party o rganization of SED to simplified and hasty steps both in the political and in the economic areas were incorrect. 70 The Soviets wanted to get rid of the forced pace toward socialism and thrust the German peace treaty debate back onto the international scene in order to show East and West Germany that the Soviets favored a unified Germany. By offering this re unification to both Germanys, the Soviets were hoping to improve their relationship with the East Germans. Malenkov and the Soviet Union realized that t he GDR was heading for a catastrophe. In an effort to pre empt such an event, the Soviet Union put forth the New Course on June 2, 1953 which guaranteed: General amnesty for East German refugees Assistance to small and medium size private enterprises Liberalized inter zonal travel Eased campaign against the Protestant church Reissued ration cards to the middle class Return of German POWs in Russia 71


31 Every effort was made to help people who had fled West to come back and get reinstated in their old positions. Expelled students were allowed to go back to school and make up exams they missed. Prisoners accused of minor offenses were to be released and those already sentenced were to be pardoned. 72 The Politburo admitted that the interests of certain se ctions of the population such as small farmers, retailers, tradesmen and the intelligentsia had been neglected with the result that many people had left the Republic. 73 This was a major step towards appeasing the East Germans, but it left out appeal to one major component of the GDR: the workers. The workers had been upset since Ulbrichts failed efforts in July 1952 to increase the GDRs productivity by raising work norms and quotas. However, the GDR still had the new quota system in effect during this t ime of strife. When the New Course was implemented, everyone except the workers seemed to get a break, and the new plan fomented in these workers hatred against the SED and the Soviets. 74 The East German workers were fed up with their miserable living co nditions and the high reparation payments owed to the Soviet Union. With the New Course as an impetus, the workers of East Berlin and then East Germany united to strike.


32 Workers Uprising or Popular Revolt? Prior to the opening the archives, ma ny people thought the attempted 1953 revolution had occurred because East Germany was fed up with the Soviet style of government working towards a socialist state. The new archival evidence proved that many previous conceptions were incorrect. Earlier th ere was much debate over the occurrences in the GDR on June 17, 1953. Many people believed that a popular uprising had taken place in an attempt to overthrow the SED and install a new democratic form of government much like West Germanys, but was crushed by the iron hand of the Soviet Union. Many Soviets believed the West had caused the uprising by promising support for any and all who took part in the strikes, so that when the GDR fell, the Western allies would be there to help East Germany form a democra tic society. The Soviet Union used the fact that the strike occurred in about 400 cities simultaneously to support the idea that the West was behind the strike. Some of the archival evidence points to this as a possibility, as well. Although it became cle ar from some documents that there was mass discontent throughout East Germany (proven, if only, by the numbers of refugees fleeing West), the East German uprising did not incorporate all of the East German people. Only three to four percent of the total po pulation was involved. No one really knew what happened because the Soviets and the SED kept the actual information secret. The new evidence proved that the uprising was aimed at addressing workers problems, not those of the population as a whole. The d emographics reveal that


33 somewhere around ninety percent of the 500,000 people involved were industrial workers. The other ten percent or so was comprised of farmers and, in some cases, school children supporting the uprising. The workers on strike shouted anti Soviet slogans, demanded decreases in prices by forty percent and wanted to liquidate the East German State. 75 But, with only three to four percent of the total East German population (around 18 million), the strike cannot be a considered a popular re volt against the GDR.


34 Was the West a Catalyst? It seems very unlikely that the West acted as a catalyst for the events. Discontent among the East German workers was present long before the strikes occurred. The accelerated industrializat ion put forth by Stalin in 1948 started a long road of unrest among the workers. During the Second Party Conference in 1952, when Ulbricht decided to raise work quotas to catch up to the Soviet Unions demands, workers lived in abject poverty in the cities At the Second Party Conference, Ulbricht stated the political and economic conditions and the attitude of the working class and of the majority of the workershad progressed to a point where the establishment of socialism had become the fundamental tas k [facing the state]. 76 He meant that the process of socialization in the GDR was to be sped up, as the conditions were prime for such action to take place. Agricultural collectives were formed soon after this conference, with craftsmens collectives close behind. The GDR was also split up into 14 districts rather than its original five provinces. This marked the beginning of the GDRs seclusion from the Western world. Travel was severely hindered; telephone and roads in Berlin were cut off at sector bound aries; all who were not outwardly pro GDR were put under a watchful suspicious eye. 77 Conflict between workers and the SED began long before the June 1953 uprising. The first dispute took place in January 1951 when the SED introduced collective agreements. The SED declared that workers would undertake both individually and


35 collectively, either to increase their output or to achieve the production target laid down by the state ahead of schedule. 78 Even with open ballot votes watched over by SED functionarie s, many factories refused to endorse the new plan, because they thought they would be worse off under the new laws than under the old tariff arrangements. Many believed that the focus on heavy industry would be detrimental to consumer interests and that t he collectivization of agriculture created dislocations in the food supply and brought on mass disaffection. These early events acted as a precursor to the 1953 uprising. The collective agreement disputes proved that if the workers stayed united, they co uld stand up to the regime. It also demonstrated to the SED that workers were unwilling to follow the regimes chosen path. 79 In the following years of collective agreement meetings, almost no pressure was put on workers and factories. The following year, t hey were asked to enter into agreements voluntarily, both individually and corporately. In 1952, the turn out for the SED Party Conference was much more favorable than the previous year. As a result, Rudolf Hernstadt, chief editor of Das Neue Deutschland and a member of the Politburo, used the positive atmosphere to bolster workers support for the new regime. Hernstadt blamed the 1951 disputes on poor decision making by the SED functionaries and tried to show workers that the SED had made a change for the better. By the start of 1953 though, socialism in the GDR was in full swing and the SED dropped its conciliatory attitude toward workers. The Soviet evidence put forth to substantiate the claim that the uprising seemed to be a major planned uprising co vering the whole territory of the GDR, aimed at replacing the government relies only on the fact that strikes occurred in over 400 cities in the GDR


36 and that all factions had similar demands. 80 This is also why the SED charged the West with having a hand i n preparing the strikes. What they did not take into account was the use of the radio as a means of promulgating information about the strikes. A week before the main uprising small scale strikes occurred at a factory in Gotha that acted as an indicator fo r the large scale uprising to take place. The main strike started on the afternoon of June 16, in East Berlin with construction workers protesting the introduction of the raised output quotas, not the overthrow of the government. By the early evening big crowds had developed, with a band of up to 2,000 peoplethrowing stones at the I.V. Stalin monument at Stalinelle 81 During that time, anyone could walk back and forth between East and West Berlin, so it was not hard for news to travel across to the Weste rn sector. When news arrived in West Berlin, GDR workers asked Radio In the American Sector (based in West Berlin, here on RIAS) to disseminate the information over the radio. The accounts of what had happened in East Berlin on the sixteenth were heard b y virtually everybody in East Germany and so by 9:00am the following morning, when the general strike was proclaimed, everybody went out on the streets. 82 RIAS sent radio commentators to East Berlin, where they were doing live radio commentary in the plac es where clashes between East Berliners and the People's Police occurred on the morning on 17 June. 83 RIAS was a powerful propaganda tool for the West. At a time when most East Germans could not afford a television, the radio was the center of attention a t home. As much as they wanted to, the SED could not prevent East Germans from listening to the radio. East Germans received their daily news from RIAS, including news about the


37 uprisings. 84 By the end of the 17 th the strike in East Berlin was over. The Sov iet Red Army had successfully dispersed the crowds with their tanks, but the strikes in other parts of the GDR continued for another two days.


38 Local Nature of Strikes The Soviet and SED leaders did not take into account the fact that many workers were striking about issues purely local in nature, thus discounting the theory that all the strikers encouraged the overthrow of the government. At the Feinspinnerei in Karl Marx Stadt, women were striking against a Sunday night shift. Worker s in a privately owned textile company near Plauen wanted the same wages as state run factory workers. Some groups were striking for seemingly insignificant issues like a lack of toilet paper or serving tea in rusty urns. 85 Obviously, these workers had othe r demands, but the fact that they concentrated on local grievances gives credence to the view that not all strikes were pre arranged and not all were specifically aimed at overthrowing the government. The revolt was basically a workers uprising against th e Stalinist construction of forced socialism. Even many SED members were unhappy with this policy and the situation it created in East Germany. The state concerns such as free democratic elections that the Soviets point to as proof that the West started the strikes really acted as an adhesive to try and tie all the local strikes together to give the protesters more leverage with the SED. Many SED members led or joined the strikes, claiming they were dissatisfied with the worsening living standard among the working people and justified their actions by referring to the SED Politburos published admission of mistakes. 86 During the Strikes many SED members quit the party. All over East Germany thousands of SED members had fallen prey to mysterious or sudde n sicknesses, or failed to return from


39 vacations, or randomly took off their SED party badges and claimed they had forgotten or lost them. 87 These actions served only to further embarrass the SED.


40 The GDR Reaction At first, some SED members in different localities tried to stop the strikes by diplomatic means. While attempting to calm a group of strikers at a factory, an SED member, the Minister of Transport and Farm Mechanical Engineering, Weinberger, displayed cowardice and bewilde rment during the events, by signing a protocol in which he promised to raise salaries, to establish a new vacations system, to compensate workers for travel from residential areas to the enterprises, to pay for their staying apart from their families, etc. 88 The strike committee at this particular factory also demanded the dissolving of the GDR, releasing prisoners, and canceling the state of emergency, to which the SED Minister made no objections and ended up releasing two of the strike organizers arrested by the police. 89 More than showing their cowardice as the evidence states, the SED members promises prove that many SED members believed the workers had a right to strike and empathized with their anger directed at the SED. Ironically, the uprising agains t Ulbrichts forced socialism (i.e., higher output quotas in an attempt to bring the economy back to life) cemented his position in the SED by forcing the Soviets to stick by their divided Germany policy which Ulbricht had masterminded. The Soviets had no idea what else could be done for the GDR. They did not necessarily like Ulbricht or agree with his policies, but much like Matyas Rakosi in Hungary, the Soviets did not have many options for a successor because Ulbricht handled most of the workload on his own. His motto in the SED was No one can do


41 anything without me. 90 At one point SED members could not even get in touch with Ulbricht because he ordered the telephone operators not to connect calls to him. 91 The SED members had many complaints about Ulbri cht. Frederick Oelssner, an SED member, believed Ulbricht had not understood the incorrectness of his conduct. That he had not understood that as a matter of fact he lost touch with the masses and that his methods of dictatorial leadership were one of the serious reasons errors were committed. 92 Oelssner went further and said Ulbricht was still inclined to create an atmosphere of pomp around his person, as if he never did anything wrong. 93 But many SED members and Soviets realized that the strikes showed th e hollowness of Ulbrichts regime. The SED claimed its power from the strength and resolve of the workers. They were supposed to stand as a symbol to other socialist nations as the base of socialism. But when the workers went on strike, the hollowness of a ll that Ulbricht had created became obvious. Ulbricht needed help to put down the worker's uprising. The SED acted quickly to pre empt the strikers from the possibility of taking over the GDR. Initially the East German Peoples Police could not handle the strikers and failed to disperse the demonstrators. The Soviet Red Army was called in to quell the riotous strikers with men and tanks. Martial law was declared with the intention to restore public order and terminate the anti government demonstrations. The most important aid came in the form of Soviet tanks. The tanks acted as crowd dispersal units and worked as a deterrent to people gathering in one place. One policeman said that all roads were blocked by troops, tanks, artillery and that tanks and armored personnel carriers finished dispersing the demonstrators. 94


42 The Peoples Police intentionally did not arrest many leaders of the revolt on June 17. Rather, they waited until late that night to break into their homes and arrest them so that they could not be seen as martyrs and no one would miss them for a day or two. Many of the strike organizers received swift punishment: military commanders announced that death sentences had been carried out against the organizers of the disturbances on June 18. 95


43 The GDRs Rectification Program After the June uprising was quelled, many SED members thought the situation could have been avoided. Oelssner criticized the party leadership for not heeding the signals of discontent among the populace earlier and for not understanding that this discontent could have serious consequences. 96 Oelssner believed that the measures put in place by the SED to improve the living standard among the workers had not yet yielded the expected results. He believed the worker s continued to take a wait and see position, not yet trusting the party. 97 Once again SED delegates traveled to factories and promised the workers everything they demanded. Moreover, every official making a report considers it his duty to surpass the pro mises of his predecessor. As there is no practical fulfillment of promises, the workers have again stopped believing in them. 98 The Soviets and the SED had come to realize that rectification was necessary. They also recognized that trust between the SED an d the workers was necessary for the party to move forward. The workers had risen up against the government and, if the SED did not make some concessions to the workers, the whole regime would be in danger of collapsing. Promises for change, however, were n ot enough, especially because the lack of trust between the workers and the SED still existed. In the ensuing months the Soviets initiated measures toward revitalizing the East German economy. By July, the Soviets talked about:


44 creating a stable economic situation in the Republic and to raise the standard of living of the GDRs populace to that of West Germans populace, to examine the issue of halting delivery of goods to the Soviet Union and Poland and of counting the export of goods to the USSR as reve nue for the Soviet enterprises in the GDR from the first half of 1953 with the aim of applying these goods toward the development of the GDRs external trade and the satisfaction of the internal needs of the Republic. 99 The Soviets first agreed to offer financial support in the form of an economic aid package, similar to the Marshall Plan. The Soviets also agreed to officially terminate the reparations payments, a main factor that had thrust East Germany into its economic hardship. And finally, the Soviet s officially announced the GDR to be a sovereign state, further supporting the Soviet ideology of a two Germany doctrine.


45 Effects of the East German Uprising The East German uprising acted as an icebreaker for revolting against the Sovi et repressive measures instituted in East Central European Bloc nations during the Cold War. One historian believed that the uprising came to stand for a hard line repressive resolution of internal unrest and the ultimate ratio of Soviet military interven tion, and as such was central [to] Ulbrichts hard line approach to crises in Eastern Europe in 1956, 1968 The myth surrounding the uprising set the standard for other Soviet satellites to follow. Since no hard information was readily available, rumors s pread that popular discontent was rampant in East Germany and that the people united to lash out against the GDR. Obviously, many people were unhappy in the GDR. Other Soviet satellites heard about the uprising and automatically inferred that the people mu st be trying to overthrow the government and therefore other East Central Bloc nations felt a common bond between them. It was obvious to Hungary that other nations had similar problems and the East German uprising demonstrated one way for Hungary to deal with such problems.


46 Unexpected Outcome of the Uprising The workers uprising also set the precedent for Soviet intervention in East Central Bloc nations. Much like the United States implementation of the Truman Doctrine, the Soviets pursued a n unspoken doctrine which allowed them to use whatever force was necessary to keep their satellites from straying towards capitalism, as shown in the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the Czechoslovakian uprising in 1968. The Brezhnev Doctrine, as it came t o be known, asserted that in a socialist society rules and norms of the law are subordinate to the class struggle 100 The Soviets gave themselves the right to intervene when any counter revolutionary element rose up or any time any regime was under the thr eat of foreign intervention. 101


47 Conclusion One of the most important problems the allies had to face post World War II was how to deal with the defeated Germany. The division of Germany into four sections was an attempt to ensure demilitarizat ion and democratization of the former aggressor. But the simplicity of the plans did not carry over into the reality of rebuilding a defeated nation. The East/West Germany split became the front line of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the first eight years after the war ended (1945 53) Soviet controlled East Germany became the first communist country to rebel against Stalins Soviet style of socialism. The release of previously unseen archival evidence in 1992 brought fort h new theories on the causes and ramifications of the 1953 East German uprising. After viewing internal Soviet documents sent from East Germany to Soviet Foreign Ministers and reviewing interviews with eyewitnesses, it is clear that the 1953 East German up rising was a workers revolt triggered by the ill treatment they received from the German Democratic Republic (GDR).


48 References Cited 1 Mary Fulbrook. Interpretations of the two Germanies (New York: St. Martins Press) 13. 2 Interpretations of the two Germanies p14 3 Mary Fulbrook. Anatomy of a dictatorship: inside the GDR, 1949 1989 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) 4. 4 Anatomy of a dictatorship, p4 5 Interpretations of the two Germanies, p2 6 Feiwel Kupferberg. The rise and fall of the German Democratic Republic (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002) 4. 7 The rise and fall, p5 8 Peter Grieder. The East German Leadership, 1946 1973: conflict and crisis (Manchester: Manchester Unive rsity Press, 1999) 14. 9 Jeffrey Herf. Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys. (Harvard University Press, 1997) 76. 10 Gareth Pritchard. The making of the GDR, 1945 53: from anti fascism to Stalinism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 200 0) 61. 11 Making of GDR, p61 12 Making of GDR, p57 13 Ibid 14 Making of GDR, p58 15 Making of GDR, p67 16 Ibid 17 Ibid 18 Norman Naimark. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945 1949. (Belknap Press, 1997) 43. 19 Divided Memory, p79 20 Ibid 21 East German Leadership, p17 22 Ibid 23 East German Leadership, p18 24 The Making of the GDR, p153 25 East German Leadership, p19 26 Divided Memory, p108 27 Divided Memory, p109 28 Anatomy of a Dictatorship, p21 29 East German Leadership, p19 30 Anatomy of a Dictatorship, p22 31 Divided Memory, p110 32 Making of GDR, p19 33 Konrad Jarausch. Dictatorship As Experience: Towards a Socio Cultural History of the GDR (Berghahn Books, 1999) 74. 34 Dictatorship as Experience, p77 35 Corey Ross. Constructing Socialism a t the grass roots: the transformation of East Germany, 1945 65 (New York: St. Martins Press, 2000) 17. 36 Constructing Socialism, p17 37 Constructing Socialism, p18 38 Constructing Socialism, p19 39 Ibid


49 40 Constructing Socialism, p22 41 Ibid 42 David Holloway. The Soviet Union and the Arms Race. (Yale University Press, 1983) 22. 43 Constructing Socialism, p21 44 Charles Wheeler. Interview. The National Security Archive website http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ Nov. 8, 1998. p3 45 Charles Wheeler. Interview, p3 46 Dicta torship as Experience, p97 47 Dictatorship as Experience, p98 48 Rolf Badstubner and Wilfried Loth, eds. Wilhelm Pieck -Aufzeichnungen zur Deutschlandpolitik, 1945 1953 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1994) 396 97 (translation by Stephen Connors). 49 Dictatorship a s Experience, p98 50 Dictatorship as Experience, p99 51 Dictatorship as Experience, p100 52 Ibid 53 Dictatorship as Experience, p101 54 Ibid 55 Sergo Beria. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalins Kremlin (London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1999) 251. 56 Beria, My F ather, p252 57 W. R. Smyser, From Yalta to Berlin: The Cold war Struggle Over Germany (New York: St. Martins Press, 1999) 117. 58 From Yalta to Berlin, p118 59 Archive of the President, Russian Federation (AP RF), Moscow, f. 3, op 64, d. 802, 11. 153. Trans lated by Benjamin Aldrich Moodie. (CWIHP) 60 AP RF, Memorandum, V. Chiukov to G.M. Malenkov May 18, 1953 61 AP RF, USSR Council of Ministers Order On Measures to Improve the Health of the Political Situation in the GDR, June 2, 1953. 62 Christian F Osterman n. This is Not a Politburo, But a Madhouse, The Post Stalin Succession Struggle Soviet Deutschlandpolitik and the SED: New Evidence from Russian, German, and Hungarian Archives (Cold War International History Project, Working Paper, 1994) 2. 63 From Yal ta to Berlin, p121 64 Hungarian Central Archives (HCA), Transcripts between the Soviet Leadership and a Hungarian United Workers Party Delegation in Moscow June 13, 195 3 Budapest, 276. F. 102/65. oe.e Typed revision. Published by Gyorgy T. Varga in Multu nk, 2 3 (1992), 236, Translated by Monika Borbely. 65 Ibid. 66 Ibid 67 Ibid 68 Ibid 69 AP RF, On Measures to Improve the Health of the Political Situation in the GDR, 70 Ibid 71 Ibid 72 Uprising in East Germany, p27 73 Ibid 74 From Yalta to Berlin, p120 75 Archiv es of the Russian General Staff (AGSh), Report form A. Grechko in Berlin to N.A. Bulganin, June 17, 1953. Moscow, f. 16. Op. 3139, d. 155, 11. 1 3. Translated by Viktor Gobarev. 76 Uprising in East Germany, p3 77 Uprising in East Germany, p5 78 Uprising in Ea st Germany, p10 79 Uprising in East Germany 11 80 AGSh, Report from V. Sokolovskii in Berlin to N. A. Bulganin 81 AGSh, Report from V. Semenov to V. Molotov and N. Bulganin


50 82 Wheeler Interview, p3 83 AP RF, Note from S. Kruglov to G. Malenkov 84 Wheeler Interv iew, p2 85 Making of GDR, p211 86 AGSh, Report from I. Fadeikin to V.D. Sokolovskii 87 Making of GDR, p219 88 AGSh, Report from I. Fadeikin to V.D. Sokolovskii 89 Ibid 90 AP RF, Note from S. Kruglov to G. Malenkov 91 Ibid 92 Ibid 93 Ibid 94 Ibid 95 Archive of Foreign Policy of Russian Federation (AVP RF), Telephonogram excerpt from V. Semenov to V. Molotov June 18, 1953. f. 6, op. 12, p. 16, d. 259, 11.45 46. Provided by Vladislav M. Zubok (NSA). Translated by Daniel Rozas. 96 AP RF, Note from S. Kruglov to G. Malenk ov 97 Ibid 98 AVP RF, Proposals of Sokolovskii, Semenov, Iudin 99 Ibid 100 From Yalta to Berlin, p220 101 Ibid


51 Bibliography Primary Sources: Archive of the President, Russian Federation (AP RF), Moscow, f. 3, op. 64, d. 802, 11. 124 144, 153 161. Translated by Benjamin Aldrich Moodie. (Cold War International History Project) Archive of the President, Russian Federation (AP RF), Moscow, f. 3, op. 64, d. 925, 11. 156 165. Translated by Benjamin Aldrich Moodie. (CWIHP) Archive of the President, Russian Federation (AP RF), Moscow, f. 45, op. 1, d. 303, List 179. Translated by Stephen Connors. (CWIHP) Archives of the Russian General Staff (AGSh), Moscow, f. 16, op. 3139, d. 155, 11. 1 3, 4 5, 6 7, 8 9, 10 11, 12 14, 15 16, 19 20, 26 27, 31 33, 34 35, 217 222. Translated by Viktor Gobarev. Archive of Foreign Policy of Russian Federation (AVP RF), f. 6, op. 12, p. 16, d. 259, 11.45 46. Provided by Vladislav M. Zubok (National Security Archive). Translated by Daniel Rozas. Arch ive of Foreign Policy of Russian Federation (AVP RF), f. 82, op. 41, por. 93, d. 280, 11. 13 15, 22 24, 27 28, 29 30, 37 39, 61 62. Translated by Benjamin Aldrich Moodie. (CWIHP) Foundation Archives of the Parties and Mass Organizations of the Former GD R, Berlin, DY 30 J IV 2/202/15; document obtained and provided by Christian Ostermann, Hamburg University and National Security Archive; translation by Helen Christakos. Hungarian Central Archives (HCA), Budapest, 276. F. 102/65. oe.e Typed revision. P ublished by Gyorgy T. Varga Multunk, 2 3 (1992), pp. 234 269. Translated by Monika Borbely Wheeler, Charles. Interview. The National Security Archive. 1998. George Wasthington University. June 8, 2003.


52 Secondary Sourc es: Allinson, Mark. Politics and popular opinion in East Germany 1945 68 Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalins Kremlin London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1999. Fulbrook, Mary. Interpretation s of the two Germanies New York: St. Martins Press, 2000. --. Anatomy of a dictatorship: inside the GDR, 1949 1989 New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Grieder, Peter. The East German Leadership, 1946 1973: conflict and crisis Manchester: M anchester University Press, 1999. Herf, Jeffrey. Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys. Harvard University Press, 1997. Holloway, David. The Soviet Union and the Arms Race. Yale University Press, 1983. Jarausch, Konrad. Dictatorship As Exp erience: Towards a Socio Cultural History of the GDR Berghahn Books, 1999. Kupferberg, Feiwel. The rise and fall of the German Democratic Republic New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002. Naimark, Norman. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945 1949. Belknap Press, 1997. Ostermann, Christian F. This is Not a Politburo, But a Madhouse, The Post Stalin Succession Struggle Soviet Deutschlandpolitik and the SED: New Evidence from Russian, German, and Hungarian A rchives Cold War International History Project, 1994. --. The United States, the East German Uprising of 1953, and the Limits of Rollback. ColdWar International History Project, 1994.


53 --. Uprising in East Germany 1953: The Cold War, The German Question, and The First Major Upheaval Behind the Iron Curtain. National Security Archive Cold War Readers. Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2001. Pritchard, Gerard. The making of the GDR, 1945 53: From antifascism to Stalinism Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. Ross, Corey. Constructing Socialism at the grass roots: the transformation of East Germany, 1945 65 New York: St. Martins Press, 2000. Smyser, W. R., From Yalta to Berlin: The Cold war Struggle Over Ger many New York: St. Martins Press, 1999. Zubok, Vladislav M. Soviet Intelligence and the Cold War: The Small Committee of Information, 1952 1953. Cold War International History Project, 1992.


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