GDR : Post war divisions of Germany

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  • GDR : The Post War Divisions of Germany
    • Allied Policies
      • The allies had no long termplan for Germany. Germany was divided into four zones and so was Berlinas it was in the Soviet zone.
      • Yalta :
        • Allied policies = the allies were not longer united by the common enemy of Hitler.
        • To divide Germany into four sectors
        • Stalin wanted the border of Poland moved eastwards into Germany so the USSR could take land back in it lost to Poland in 1936.
      • Potsdam :
        • Denazification             - Demilitarization – reduce German army so it would never be a threat again. -  Deindustrialization – Large German industries would be dismantled to keep Germany weak and to pay the USSR reparations.  -   Democratization – Germany should be prepared for democracy
      • The allies disagreed over reparations. USSR had lost 20 million of itscitizens and wanted $20billion whereas the USA did not want to fix a setamount.
      • It was finally agreed they could take reparations from their own zones and the USSR could have 10% of the industrial machinery of each of the Western zones. The division of Germany was a short-term plan it was assumed Germany would soon be reunited.
      • Stalin was not convinced that East Germany would be able to come a Communist state. He wanted to help the German Communists and he needed to control the Soviet Zone so by placing communists in key positions the Soviets would help them run East Germany.
      • Stalin was also hoping the Americans would leave Europe as they had done after WW1. Stalin had no long term plan but he wanted to keep Germany weak and to ensure nationalism did not re-emerge. The problem was he could not get reparations if he kept Germany weak.
    • The Creation of the SED
      • The Soviet Zone of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) and a group of experienced German Communists.
      • In Feb 1945 Pieck was told to select 150 reliable German Communists to help control the Soviet Zone. They had been in exile in the USSR during WW2 and were now to have key positions in charge of education and the economy.
      • The SMAD was creating in June 1945 and was to ensure Stalin’swill was carried out in Germany. It was comprised of 50,000 Soviet andGerman members and was supported by Russian troops.
      • It was sometimes unsure of whether it was independent of the Soviet government and it had a great deal of freedom for example the German Economic Commission was established in 1947 drew up economic plans for East Germany.
      • The SED was created by a merger of the SPD (Socialist Party of Germany)and the KPD (Communist Party). In June 1945 the SMAD allowed theformation of political parties to rival those in the West.
      • The KPD played down communism and blamed WW2 on the Nazis which attracted Germans and gave them someone to blame. The two parties merged to give them a greater chance at winning an election; both parties had reunification in mind.
      • By 1948 its membership was 2,000,000. In the West there was little support for the merger and the two partie s remained independent. Even with the merger the SED could not form a Communist government they only achieved less than 20% of the vote
    • Eradication of Nazism
      • One main aim was the eradication of Nazism. Thousands of former Nazi party members and officials were arrested and sent to concentrationcamps.
      • They were joined by anyone who might oppose the new regime, between 1945 and 1950 43,000 people died within the Gulag system. It was felt that wealth inequalities had led to the rise of Nazism
      • Land reforms: Sept 1945 all landowners who had supported the Nazis with holdings over 100 hectares lost their land without compensation
      • Confiscation of property: property and firms belonging to Nazi officials was confiscated and some went to the USSR as reparations but the rest were maintained as public enterprises.
      • Education: higher education was opened up to the working classesand the curriculum was designed for the support of Communism.
    • Growing Differences Between the East and West
      • The Soviet Union wanted harsh reparation payments from Germany in terms of money and dismantling industrial plants. Between 1945-1954 this wasin excess of 54 billion Ostmarks.
      • The reparations were to keep Germany weak and then they used the resources to try and beat the FRG economically for example they used the metals from dismantled railways.
      • Britain and France realized that a poverty stricken Germany was helpingno one and the country had to recover. In summer 1946 they formed the‘bizonia’ and the French joined in 1949 forming the ‘trizonia’. Thismade the likelihood of two distinct Germanys a possibility, onecapitalist and one communist supported by the Communists.
      • The Americansalso supported it zones with the Marshall Plan, which providedresources, money, and aid, which would help capitalist countriesrecover, and to contain the spread of communism. The USSR did not allowits countries to accept Marshall Aid.
      • Cooperation between the Russians and the Western powers were breaking down in the Allied Control Council. For example the Americans halted reparations payments to the USSR as the USSR refused to deliver foodstuffs. The final straw came out in 1948 when the Russian representatives walked out the meeting when the USA introduced the new currency.
    • The Berlin Blockade and airlift
      • The allies introduced a new currency into their zones and created a newstate the FRG in May 1949. Stalin still wanted reunification but theallies had made this impossible. The soviet zone was suffering and pricecontrols and Marshall aid was helping the FRG to prosper.
      • Stalin responded by introducing the Ostmark into East Germany. Berlin lay within the Soviet Zone and Stalin wanted to take control. He wanted topush the West out so ordered a blockade to cut off the wests access to road, rail and canal.
      • The western authorities would have to starve orsubmit to the USSR. However the western allies airlifted in all goodsthat West Berlin needed.
      • In May Stalin realized that the allies could keep airlifting in all the supplies and they called it off. The blockade showed that the allies would not abandon West Berlin.
    • The Formation of the GDR, 1949 – ‘Stalin’s Unwanted Child’
      • It was created more out of default than design. After the creation of the FRG in May 1949 there seemed little choice. When the SED wanting to create a Peoples Democracy like other communist countries the USSR wanted a gradual route to communism.
      • Stalin still wanted a united Germany and was concerned about the international reaction.
      • The new state was ratified at the Third People’s Congress in May 1949 –people were given a single list of candidates in a relatively openelection on 66.1% approved it, other elections would not be so open.
      • 330 members of the Congress agreed the draft constitution of the GDR on 7 the October. Pieck was appointed President and Grotewohl Minister-Presidentof a provisional government, which would undertake the duties of the SMAD. The GDR was under the control of the USSR.


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