KQ3 Revision Notes: To what extent and in what ways did communism transform the GDR?

Revision Notes on Key Question 3 of the course Dictatorship and Democracy in Germany 1933-63

Specifically for AS OCR History A Unit F964 Option B

Study Topic 4: Dictatorship and Democracy in Germany 1933–63

[Sepcification for my course on pg 63 of:http://www.ocr.org.uk/download/kd/ocr_9582_kd_gce_spec.pdf]

Thanks to this member whose notes helped me:http://getrevising.co.uk/resources/ocr_germany_1933_63_kq_3

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To what extent and in what ways did
communism transform the GDR?
Potsdam and the Soviet Zone
The Big Three 1945
Stalin: Truman: Churchill:
Wanted reparations and security Roosevelt had died. Least trusting of Stalin.
from Germany. Didn't trust Stalin. Suspicious of Stalin's promises for
Needed reparations to rebuild democratic elections in Eastern
the USSR. Europe.
Against division of Germany ­ Britain's power decreasing ­
wanted access to the Rhine and even more when replaced by
the Ruhr. Attlee.
The Four `D's
1. Denazification removing the Nazi influence on the public that had been exerted through various
2. Demilitarisation removing the German armed forces
3. Decentralisation giving more power to the Länder to weaken Germany and remove the centralised Nazi
government structure
4. Democratisation Allow elections in Germany
Division of Germany
The USSR would administer the Soviet Zone independently but it was assumed that eventually there would
be a settlement over the whole of Germany.
Germany was to be treated as an economic unity ­ decisions would be taken by the allies together.
The Western Allies rejected Stalin's request that the Polish border be made further west, but in reality they
accepted that many Germans would be expelled and the Polish would administer those lands.
The USSR would be allowed to take reparations from their own zone and a quarter of the reparations from
the western Zones.
Borders not clearly defined.
Unclear whether Germany would be re-unified and have a central government.
The Consolidation of Communism under the SED (1946-8)
The Four `D's
1. Denazification
Problems: Methods:

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NDASP illegal after Potsdam ­ most members threw Different approach than the West.
away their membership cards ­ how could former Believed Capitalism had led to Nazism ­ new
Nazis be identified and what should be done about socio-economic conditions would solve the problem.
them. Executed a number of war criminals.
Germany had been destroyed and needed experts ­ Nazi property was confiscated and estates were
most were Nazis. redistributed.…read more

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No effective currencies. Other owners had emigrated west or were forced to leave.
Western Zones. Soviet pursuit of
reparations and
Land Reform:
destruction of capitalist
Land redistributed.
power structures
Two thirds of land was redistributed to smallholders,
exacerbated the
refugees and expellees.
Inefficient and unproductive ­ decided to collectivise.
The Berlin Blockade and the GDR's Constitution (1948-9)
The Berlin Crisis
Causes Soviet Aims The Blockade
Short term: Western currency Pressure the Western Allies Plans made to introduce their own
reform.…read more

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Democratic Centralism' ­ decisions being passed down and implemented below ­ should be influenced as
much as possible by the Communist party.
Transformation of the SED:
Strict hierarchal structures imposed ­ no democratic decision making in the party.
Decisions made by Politbureau (executive body in the party) and the secretariat.
Loyalty to the USSR and SED leaders expected from all members ­ regular purges.
Show trials for non-Stalinists ­ expelled from the party or imprisoned.…read more

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Basic foods only population but still went Soviet intervention ­ Stasi's power and size
obtained on ration ahead with the rise in state of emergency increased ­ authority to
cards. the work `norms'. declared ­ troops and suppress any opposition.
Consumer goods tanks were sent to quash Some concessions ­ work
not being the uprising, martial law norms withdrawn, food
produced. declared ­ feeble and prices lowered, more
People emigrating poorly organised consumer goods etc.
to FRG ­ `voted resistance.…read more

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Larger farmers alienated.
1953 13% land not farmed ­ high migration to the west.
Uprising and de-Stalinisation ­ less collectivisation ­ most GDR agriculture wasn't collectivised.
1960 Collectivisation pushed ­ independent farmers denied access to collective machinery and high targets
were set.
SED members were sent to villages to convince farmers to collectivise.
Those who didn't obey were arrested/had land confiscated.
1961 Peak emigration ­ food production declined, rationing reintroduced.
Ideological aim was met and in the long run agriculture did improve in efficiency.…read more

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FDGB was the largest organisation of the SED ­ all members were SED members
­ `dictatorship over the proletariat', not `dictatorship of the proletariat'.
Did help the GDR become more egalitarian than the FRG ­ wealth and authority
of landed classes diminished and working and middle classes had more equal
incomes and social status.
Income levels ­ below those of the FRG ­ BUT extremes of wealth more
prominent in the FRG.…read more

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FDJ ad a fixed number of seats in the Volkskammer ­ helped secure position of
1950 membership of over 3m although not compulsory ­ fear of discrimination
by universities/employers.
Marching/singing, oath of allegiance, initiation ceremony ­ resembled the HJ.
Couldn't prevent growing western influence on youth through the media ­ many
young East Germans admired the western lifestyle ­ privately rebelled against
the dictatorship.…read more

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Second wave of collectivisation ­ brutally enforced ­ food produce declined and rationing
The Berlin Wall (1961)
Early Khrushchev met with Kennedy.
Summer Meeting went badly ­ threatened war unless there was a settlement over Berlin.
Kennedy stressed he would guarantee the status of West Berlin and free access to the city.
Pressure on the GDR due to increased emigration to the West, mainly via West Berlin.
Rumours the border would be closed.…read more


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