The Thaw events

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Events of The Thaw
East Germany 1953
Following Stalin's death the Soviet leadership began to adopt a more moderate and
less oppressive system of governance; giving the USSR a chance to approach the west
in a new light
Lavrenti Beria , a potential leader of the USSR and long-serving head of the Soviet
secret police, proposed reunification Germany as a means of improving relations with
the Western world, arguing that ` All we want is a peaceful Germany and it makes no
difference to us whether or not it is socialist' .
However Walter Ulbricht , the dictator of communist East Germany , had other ideas,
he was still a dedicated Stalinist, and had no desire to liberalise or unify his country.
Ulbricht had just begun a programme of Soviet-style industrialisation to increase the
speed at which socialism was imposed upon East Germany. However the
industrialisation scheme required the introduction of longer working hours and price
rises, which were deeply unpopular amongst the East German people. Workers' in the
country began striking to show their anger at these changes.
These strikes gradually escalated into a nationwide uprising against communist rule in
June 1953.
Ultimately Soviet troops were required to restore order to Germany, with roughly
25,000 people being arrested, and 400 executed . The uprising indicated that the
Soviet government was not willing to liberalise too much, and that Stalinist leaders
such as Ulbricht were secure in their positions.
Impact on International Relations:
Many western leaders hoped that Stalin's death would signal in a new era of peace in
Europe . Germany was symbolic of divisions in post-war Europe; the USSR's aim for it
to be reunified filled the west with hope that the Soviet Union was willing to
compromise and liberalise .
However the Soviet Union's harsh response to the uprising swiftly ruined any hopes of
German reunification . This in turn indicated to the west that the communist world
had no real interest in peace or liberalisation, a feeling that was only compounded
upon when the East German government accused America of inciting and funding the
protestors as a means of destabilising the country.

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Dr. Karl Renner and Leopold Figl, carefully and cleverly played upon
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Only agree reached was one on cultural exchanges of scientists, musicians and
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Khrushchev's speech ­ 25th February 1956
th
Spoken to the 20 Congress of the Communist Party.
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Party
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Had no strategic use
o Was more of a burden than an asset
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This could be viewed as the USSR biding their time as they believe that the demise
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· Hungarian reformers demonstrated to put
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