GDR Fall


Impact of perestroika and glasnsot

SED government became conserned about developing relations between the USSR and the FRG- Kohl making a formal state visit to Moscow in 19888 and Gorbachev visiting the FRG in 1989

GDR created as a direct result of the cold war - more reliant on soviet support than other communist regimes - fundemental politcal restructre would meant departing from communism - GDR not as distinct from the FDR - question for its existence

Tried to use propaganda - maintianing that the GDR's economic superiority within the eatern bloc made redorms unnecessary ande mphasisng that the GDR's constituion did allow the existence of other parties - developed into anti-soviet proganda about widespread food shorages and homelessness - banned soviet magazine sputnik - in a film destival give soviet that portayed gorbachev's policies positiviely - East german teacher arrested after being informed on by a pubil for using an aritcle from pravada

could not succeed in isolating its own people from developments within the USSR - gorbachev encouraged political openess - honecker and top sed leaders being elderly men there were questions of succession of power

party was beginning to show divisions over the best way forward

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Pressure for reform

by late 80s there was a more organised demand for reform - influenced by western counter culture and brief liberalisation in Czechoslovakia dyrung prague spring - opposititon being taken up by GDR generation who'd grown up with the Berlin wall 0 tended to have a cultural imapct rather than political agenda

80-90 ecological groups often based in larger cities such as leipzig where environmental porblems were rife - Enviromental livrary - self printed jounral Umweltblatter - circulation of around 2000 a month- Stasi raided them and seizzed the printing press - risk of arrest helped to keep the impact of the self-contained or autonomous groups at a minor level

Renification had little favour - youth had no experience of a unified germany - more a direct challenge to the SED 0 more of a widespread promotion of peace - introduction of military training in education and sharp increase in Cold War tension in the early 80s -

Initative for peace and human rights (IFM) - small informal yet influential membership began to foster contacts outside the GDR - had protection from the protestant church

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Roel of Protestant Opposition groups

often uncomfortable balancing act of society/state and god- wide range of complex and emotional issues-  offered protective cover for small autonomous groups from the sed - leaders of the church merely wanted to survive when its membership had fallenf rom 80% in 1950 to 30% (5 million) by the late 80s

1978 accord between honcker and the protestant church - church within socialism - any political elements within the church's membership could be contained within the sphere of the church rather than given to the wider public

many within the SED resented the church on ideological grounds - sepcifical the Junge Geminde which was its youth organisation as it rivalled the FDJ - Rudi Mittig's Miekle's deupty at the stasi - believed that the church should be centrallissed - stasi placed agents at all levesl from bishops to church lawyers - in some church synods up to 25% of the members were working as informers -suspicion of collaboration and stasi infiltration shows the limit

focal point for  those dissisfied with ther SED regime- by 1987 -the state began to feel that the church was either unable or unwilling to contrl the more radical elements within it- church did not wield strong disciple - summer of 87 the church from below or Kirche von Unten was created which worked with groups like IFM and enviromental library

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Decling authrotiy of the SED Government

1989 - SED won 98% of the vote - on the surface everything was fine- still big difference of quality of between gdr and FRG- 40 years of indoctrinatgion and propaganda had not created a population with unquestioning lotalty or blind faith in the system 

honecker's apthy limited their impact on the leadership of the sed but the party were more inclined towards the idea of reform - before 1989 they were more recuctant to take open action against the party

Research by the central instute for youth reseach in leizig conducted a surveyr in 88 and 89 that showed that there was widespread disillusionment with the GDR's socialism - fear that life would not improve- by oct 19888 - less than 20% of young workers felt strong identification with the GDR while 25% had hardly any or non at all -

long term stagnation and economic problems was a major factor for promotion change - forbachev's reforms helped to swell discontent withint he GDR - demands for reform were protected by the church - rise of protest groups gave calls for fore reform - inability of the sed to control events within the state

Common joke - socialist hell - would be short on matches and the devil wouldn't be working

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Opening of Hungary's border with Austria

Hungary - communist state in eastern bloc and in the warsaw pact - late 80s reforms meant it allowed different political parities - Major concern for the SED as thy shared a border - also popular holiday destination

2nd may 1989 - Hungary began to dismantle its border with Austria (neutral state) - SED did not anticipate their citizens travelling via hungary to Austria - by the summer more than 30,0000 east germans had done that and legally claimed a west german passport once in Austria - many went to the FRG and were given offres of employment and housing - september 11 hungry lifted all restrictions on crossing the border

Tried to limit the exodus by closing the border with Czehslovakia nd restricting travel to  poland

Honecker labelled the emigrants as counter revolutionaries and allowed them exit visas and a sealed train to take them from poland and Czechosolvakia through tthe GDR - many people tried unsuccessfully to board the train

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impact of emigration

from janurary to november 1989 over 250,000 east germans had left - motiviated by political reasons and a desire for higher living standards - 75% of the people who left were under the ago of 40 and were keen to intergrate fully into west german society - qualified and in professions such as medicine - couldn't afford to lose

sed losing control of the state - east germans choosing the FRG over the FDR - emigration was a catalyst for further opposition within the GDR - protests groups grew, Democracy now and New Forum - reform within the GDR rather than reunification

Many young who had not made an attempt to cross the border were students or had parents who worked for the state - Jens Rich, the founder of New Forum' saw the border crossings as 'emotion frenzy'

Since march 1989 small public rallies had gathered outside the St Nikolai church in Leipzig - by september the numbers had rose to 5,000 then 20,000 in october - this also happened in many other cities such as Dresden and East Berlin

Honecker began facing dissent in the party - younger memeber s were frustrated - Honecker had also been illl - refused to debate policy

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Gorbachev's visit to East Berlin in October

take part in the celebrations of the GDR's 40th anniversary - military parafe of the GDR's armed forces - Gorbachev was given the most enthusiatic welcome - the parade chanted Gorby - celebrations were gate crashed by people demanding change over 700 of them were arrested-Gorbachev urged Honecker to implement soviet style changed - honecker blocked any attempt at change in an attempt to justify and preserve the GDR's own existence - however unmined by soviet forces based in hermany - brezhnev doctrine was history - honecker was on his own

6 october - Honecker and Gorbachev seen having a public conversation - 'one cannot be late otherwise one will be punished by life'- Gorbachev 'those who are declared dead usually live along time' - Honecker - 8 October - Gorbachev returned to moscow - 70,000 peolpe gathered outside of Leipzig - many thought the SED would not use force however there was fear due to honecker's positive response to the tiananmen square massacre - armed stasi units waited around the demonstration - one police officer claimed there was an order to fire but it was not carried out- possibility of a civil war- one sasi report shows that combat groups resigned from the sed and refused to obey orders - encouraged further protests in dresden and berlin

leadership of the sed was failing - state force not a realistic option - SED's time was limited - many still wanted to be in the GDR - 'wir sind das volk ' (we are the people) and wir bleiben heir (We are staying here)

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Decline of Honecker's influence and his dismissal

throughout october it was clear that Honecker could not control the events - he was 77 at the time of hisz removal - refused dialogue with the protesters - allowed stasi plans for mass arrests - over 10,000 prisoners - hard line approach yet failure to act dessively and quickly - politburo sought to remove him - not need for a difference a policy but a question of surivial of the sed - Krenz was the key figure in the plot as head of security - had support from other poliburo member Schabowski - released a statement that initated dicussion of the political crisis - Gorbachev was informed and stayed out of it -honecker was asked to resign on 17th of october - Mittag joined Krenz's side - united force against honecker

Honecker fled to Moscow but was sent back to berlin to face trial - chraged for responsibilty for the border deaths of 13 people

Mmbers of the stasi were afraid of losing thier power with Honecker's inaction - while they infiltrated many  protest groups, churches and movements they didn't have the power to influence anything

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Krenz immeditely tried to distance himself from the past by removing old politburo memebrs like Miekle and Honecker's wife Margot and Mittag - however he did have adirmation for the tiananmen squarwe massacre and still limited reforms - popular joke at the time was to ask to difference bewtween honecker and krenz the repsonse was 'krenz's hall bladder is still working'

relaxingof travel restriction - met with church leaders and new forum - claimed that the FRG were treating the recent emigrants badly - did nothing to stop demonstrations

oen million people attended a demonstration in berlin on the 4th of november - broasted live on GDR television - schabowski who was newly inc harge of the media tried to hijack the ocassion for his own version of reform

two days later 500,000 people marched through leipzig - optimism grew - 'Germany - One Fatherland'

Krenz under pressure from the people and czechslovakia was corcened that the instability would spread

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the opening of the Berlin Wall

Between 6 and 9th novement Krenz promised passmosts and visas for all east germans and that this should allow migration or travel to the west - scheduled to be annonced it on the 9th - to add to the confusion the whole politburo had resigned on the mroning of the 9th - durther disintergarion of the sed

on the evening of the 9th novement an exhausted Gunter Schabowski was answering questions from foreign jounalists that was being broadcasted live on GDR TV 0 he reacieved a piece of paper form krenz that he had not previously read that gave permsiion for private jouneys that would not need to be given a reason for - he overlooked the part that said it was support to start on the 10th and annoucd that it was immediate

Crows at border corssings overwhlemed the border guards - they were not given clear instructions - qued cars for over a kilometer -at brandenburg gate young people climbed and danced on top of the wall - Checkpoint charlie - hundreds gathered on both sides - east berliners yelled to be let out at 11pm the east german commandant opened the barrier - at 2 miutes past midnight the GDR police announced that all border crossings were open - wall had fallen

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Collapse of the SED gorvenment in 1989

November 1989 - more than 5 million east germans visited west berlin - majority of which returned to the GDR but by the end of 1989 nearly one million had emigrated to the west - the opening of the berlin wall did nothing to restore peopel's fiath in the SED

SED fell from the bottom up - at the lcoal levels officials flet that the party mechanics were fialings - revelations of corruption at the highest levels became common knowledge - this hypocrisy affected grass roots members - illusion of stability destroyed though the opening of the wall and the destruction of the politburo - Government tried to prevent further emigration through reforms - free all party lections, media free from government controla dn liberlisation of controls over the econoy - dividion forming within the party about reunififation or reformed GDR

On December 1, the volkskammer amneded the GDR constituion to end the SED's leading role, two days later Krenz stepped down from his role. - The round table was ocvened to facillitate talks between the tradition bloc parties - promote internal reform such as national elections, new consitution and dissolution of the stasi - still wanted a GDR identity

Last action of the SED was the prootion of Hans Modrow as leader - reputation as a reofrmist - new prime minister

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Collapse of the SED gorvenment in 1989

Emigration increased - 70,000 leaving for west gemarny in 1990 - represented a loss of potential productivity - country could not sustian itself any more as more young workers left - no fear of an SED led clampdown - support for reunfication grew rapidly as the GDR was heading for economic and politicla bankruptcy

on december 25 the newly unvelied brandenburg gate in berlin - the chrimstmas concert took place - sung an ode to freedom - clear indication that support for an indepdent GDR was decling - opposition groups had hoped to cling to some form of indepdence more

on janurary 15 - a protest at stasi headquarters in berlin began to reveal the extent to which is covert influence had been in society - officers were cuaght shredding evidence - people had realised that the GDR was not worth saving

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elections of March 1990

first two months of 1990 marked as a succession of economic problems strikes and continued emigration - may elections brought forward to march

Round table had modified their views to include slower reunification - New forum, IFM and Democracy now merged to form an election group called alliance 90 - Social democratic party (SPD) ways more broad and had links to the FRG- The PDS (former SED) suggested that as coailsit GDR would have ket ries with the FRG - Alliance for Germany was dominated by the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) advocated the fastest reunification with the FRG

Alliance for Germany won 48% of the vote, the SPD won 22%, PDS got 16%, Alliance 90 only recieved less than 3% due to its informal structure

Alliance for Germany won with 192 seats out of 400 in the Volkskammer - the leader of the CDU Lother de Maizere was prime minister

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Before political reunification could take place there needed to be economic reunification to stabilse the GDR

Kohl relied on the strength of the FRG to carry throught a straight one to one replace with the GDR DM - currency union took place on the 1st of July

Western consumer goods flooded the east while their own products, which govenment subsidies removed, remained unsold - unemployment int he east rose throughout the summer - strikes became common - in august 250,000 famrers demonstrated against the end of subsidies and increasing european competition - did not put peolpe off reunification

august 31st - the unfication treaty was signed - lander(States) of the GDR would become lander of the FRG on 3 october

for reunification to legitmately occur there gad to be an agreement of both germants and the 4 wartime allies - two plus four treaty of september - 4 allies renounce all eifgrs - all borders were now huarentees - Germany would continue membership of NATO

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Role of Kohl, Britan, the USA and USSR

Kohl - central to the process of reunifcation - mass movement put financial and social on the FRG - gave some monetary assistence to try and prevent emigration through improving living standards in the GDR - on november 28 without consulting anyone he put forward a ten point plan of reunification - proposed federal system for the whole of germany - visted the GDR in december of 89 and had a reception by the east german people - rejected Modrow's plan that a reunited germany should be militarly neutral as the FRG would have to withdraw from NATO

Margret Thtacher - had serious resrvations over unity - particularly the idea of united germany being a part of larger europe - fear of a powerful germany - also saw that it would undermine gorbachev - tried to organise a way with president Mitterand of France to slow the process down but was unsucessful

Britain and France's resitance was made more ineffective by George Bush's assertion that unification should go ahead - 1987 Preisdent Reagon had to 'tear this wall down' - a way to stop spending on the cold war defence spending

Kohl agreed to fund the remmoval of Soviet troops stationed int he GDR and pay 12 billion DM to the cash starved soviets - deal took play in july 1990

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acession of eastern territories to west germany

5 lander of the GDR became lander of the FRG - East and West belin merged into one city

New geramny was not a new state merged from the two seperate states - the GDR was absorbed into the FRG

Public approval for Kohl's rentless reunification programme was seen in the election results of december 1990 - CDU won a landslide victroy with 44% of the vote which wass 60% of the seats in the knew Bunderstag

Formal reunification was reltively easy and was not met with resistence

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