East Germany 1949-63

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  • East Germany 1949-63
    • creation of SED dictatorship
      • judiciary
        • people's judges
          • replaced on political grounds during De-Nazification
          • 1950, 86% public prosecutors and 50% of judges SED members
          • many 'retrained' and lacked good legal qualifications (needed to be political official of the comm.)
        • supreme court
          • politbureau played central role e.g. show trials against high ranking critics of Ulbricht
          • judges controlled by supreme court and SED
        • criminal, civil, labour, and family law
          • criminal law adapted to suppress oppositon
            • 200,000 prosecuted due to political reasons
          • SED critics hindered in career aspirations and travel freedoms
            • children could be taken away (climate of fear and insecurity)
      • stasi
        • surveillance (state secret service; modelled on Soviet intelligence)
        • IMs (citizen informers)
          • 1750,000 by end of regime
        • permanent staff
          • 1000, reached 13,000 by 1955, and 91,000 by 1989 (Mielke in power until)
        • 'sword and shield of the party'
      • military forces
        • people's police
          • founded 1949
          • traditional policing roles but with uniformed paramilitary rapid response units
          • ineffective 1953 uprising then monitored by Stasi
          • mainly to oversee frontier checks
        • national people's army
          • founded 1956, after FRG army and Warsaw Pact
          • means of controlling the population
          • structure strongly influenced by Soviets
        • SMAD/ Soviet High Comission
          • defend USSR if NATO attacked and last line for internal disturbance e.g. 1953 uprising
          • stationed in barracks
      • SED party
        • mass organisations
          • FDJ - Free GR Youth (comm. inspired youth group)
          • FDGB - Free GR Federation of TU (single TU for workers)
        • role of other parties
          • allowed degree of party pluralism (but all integrated into 'National Front of GDR')
        • 'democratic socialism'
        • politbureau (highest exe. body)
          • Ulbricht (party leader), Pieck (GDR President), Grotewohl (GDR PM)
    • political survival of Ulbricht's GDR
      • 1953 worker's uprising
        • causes
          • Stalin's death (optimism for democratic elections)
          • 10% in norms/ economic targets
        • began as peaceful protests over norms
          • 100,000 protesters in East Berlin
          • 50 killed, 20,000 arrested
        • reasons for failure
          • soviet intervention (martial law; tanks and troops e.g. SMAD)
          • poor organisation (spontaneous w/o co-ordination
          • no intervention by West
        • consequences
          • SED purge (20,000 charged and removed)
          • security forces reformed (Stasi could suppress anyone and extensive surveillance began)
          • some concessions (norms w/d, lowered food prices)
          • helped secure Ulbricht's position (Pieck died and President's office merged)
    • GDR economy
      • industry
        • Five-Year Plan 1951-5
          • State Planning Commission
          • ambitious aims for heavy industry e.g. iron and steel
          • expanded economy (ind. production doubled since 1950)
          • issues with over dependence on heavy industry (cost of consumer goods), centralised planning was slow and inflexible
        • later plans
          • Five-Year Plan 1956
            • social improvements but cost economy
          • Seven-Year Plan 1959
            • unrealistic targets (e.g. increase ind. production by 188%)
            • scrapped for 1963 NES (new economic system; decentralisation)
      • agriculture
        • land reform
          • large estates dispossessed (1/3 of Soviet agricultural area)
            • given in smallholdings to workers, refugees, and communities for state-owned farms
          • 1948 yields decreased due to farmers migrating, lack of modern tech etc.
        • 1952      collectivisation
          • created LPGs (large collectivised farms)
            • attracted small>large farmers (financial incentives)
          • 1953, 13% agri. land not farmed and 1958, 2/3 ot collectivised
        • 1960 collectivisation
          • strongly enforced
            • denied access to collective machinery
            • arrests and confiscations
        • ST results
          • disaster
            • 1961 refugee peak (farmers left)
            • food production declined and 1961 rationing reintro.
        • LT results
          • agriculture did improve
            • 1963 SED increased investment
            • 1970s LPG productivity higher than most E. Eu.
    • GDR society
      • welfare and housing
        • 1956, centrally controlled system
        • free health care, pensions etc.
        • no unemployment benefits (found work)
        • housing peaked 1959-62 (100,000/y)
      • education and youth
        • schools cleansed of Nazism (80% teachers dismissed)
        • Law for the Demo. of GR schools 1946 (expanded pre-school and abolished private and religious)
        • new centralised curriculum
        • polytechnic upper schools (POS) emphasised tech skills
        • FDJ aimed to indoctrinate and fight capitalist influence
      • churches
        • repressed
        • RE replaced and no financial support given despite 'religious freedom'
        • Jugendweine (atheist indoctrination at 14)
          • prospects suffered if didn't etc.
      • women
        • promoted equality but realities limited e.g. lost state pensions due to public finance 1947
        • families gained financial support and improved health care (1966 Family Law)
        • 1980, nearly 1/2 in HE were female
        • abortion restrictions limited until 1972
        • SED: working class>women
      • social changes
        • living standards improved
          • rise in material standards due to NES (HO shops)
        • workers state
          • FDGB purged to be loyal
        • equality
          • more classless society
        • conformity and dissent
          • rise in Western influence, still repressed substantial threats/ opposition e.g. church
    • Berlin Wall
      • significance
        • Western powers couldn't legally intervene
        • granted GDR stability
        • caused FRG shock and frustration
      • international context
        • disastrous Kennedy-Khrushchev summit

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