- Slides: 11
HI 290 - History of Germany East Germany: The Anti-fascist State
Organisation of the East German State Administrative districts of the GDR, 1952 State apparatus Party apparatus
The Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party, SED) Wilhelm Pieck (KPD) shakes hands with Otto Grotewohl (SPD) on formation of SED, April 1946.
The Police State Emblem of the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Mf. S, Ministry of State Security or Stasi) The East German Volkspolizei on parade, 1955 Erich Mielke (1907 -2000), head of the Mf. S, 1957 -1989.
The Economy • 1945 -46: Wide-ranging land reform, expropriation of businesses and nationalization of key industries: 40% of industry under state control; 100 hectares (247 acres) of land redistributed to peasants and refugees. • GDR at an economic disadvantage compared to the West – had only 30% of industrial capacity, few natural resources and a smaller population. • Planned economy focusing on building up heavy industry at the expense of essentials and consumer goods – meat, butter and sugar rationed until 1958, luxury goods like chocolate almost unobtainable. • Growth fell from 8% in 1950 to 2. 3% between 1960 & 1962.
Walter Ulbricht (1893 -1973) • Born in Leipzig, joined the Spartacist League in 1918. • Co-founder of the KPD, elected as a Reichstag Deputy in 1928. • 1933 -45: In exile in the USSR. • 1949: Appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the GDR. • 1950: Became General Secretary of the SED. • 1960: Became Chairman of the Council of State. • 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. • 1960 s: Limited economic reforms, but unable to change with the times. • 1971: Ousted by ‘palace coup’ by Honecker, with Soviet backing.
June 1953 Uprising
Anti-Fascism • Marxist-Leninist doctrine always interpreted fascism as an outgrowth of capitalism; therefore antifascism linked to anti-capitalism (big business as Hitler’s stringpullers). • Fascism also interpreted as a political class war (mainly v. KPD), rather than racial war (v. Jews); GDR paid no reparations to Israel and anti-Semitic attacks on graveyards persisted. • West German Federal Republic viewed as haven of former Nazis, protected by Anglo-Americans (especially in 1950 s/60 s); antifascism thus had contemporaneous function of anti-westernism (e. g. Berlin Wall officially labelled ‘Antifascist Defence Rampart’). • SED leadership (mainly Soviet exiles) had ambivalent attitude to ‘real’ antifascist veterans (marginalised ‘inland’ resisters, dissolved veterans’ organisations). • Antifascism an affective moral argument for wartime generation; but younger generations increasingly indifferent to abstract antifascism. 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 and veterans meetings.
Republikflucht A Family Flees from East to West over the Border in the Bavarian Forest (1948 -49) Troops of the 40, 000 -strong Grenztruppen der DDR (East German Border Guards) patrolling the inner. German border, 1971.
Education, Culture and the Arts Foundation of the FDJ in Berlin, Nov. 1947 Bertolt Brecht (1898 -1956) Christa Wolf (1929 -2011)
Interpretations Totalitarian Interpretations A Modernising Dictatorship? • Popular in 1950 s West German interpretations; revival post-1989 • Complex industrial economy required ‘rational’ not ‘ideological’ elite • Stress illegitimacy of Soviet occupation & East German ‘puppets’ • • Comparisons drawn with brown dictatorship of National Socialism • State ideology of ‘socialist personality’ within collective • ‘Leading role’ of ruling party enshrined in constitution • Stasi secret police • State control of economy • Control of media • Control of economy • • • Berlin Wall as epitome of state control of individual • Breached UN human rights on freedom of travel • Also popular with many former GDR citizens; but is this because it denies personal responsibility? • • More university graduates enter party apparatus from 1960 s • Peter C. Ludz, The Changing Party Elite in East Germany (1968/72) Economic reforms of 1960 s (New Economic System) • Attempt at decentralisation and incentivisation of economy Technological revolution • Special role of intelligentsia in GDR (see dividers on state emblem) • Precision engineering from Dresden & Leipzig • 1980 s gamble on microchip technology (too high investment costs) Welfare dictatorship (Konrad Jarausch) • Indirect use of ‘social power’ to predispose groups to choose socialism • Full employment, hospitals, education system > fond memories Educational dictatorship (Erziehungsdiktatur)? • Party ‘in loco parentis’, knowing what was good for the people • Rolf Henrich, The Guardian State (1989); party man turned dissident