Germany: From Occupation to Division, 1945-1949


The German Surrender

  • Although the war officially ended on the 8th May at 11:01pm , in reality, this was only  the formal recognition of events that had developed in a piecemeal fashion 
  • The Germans had lost the war months previously when Soviet troops began to march on Berlin and the allied forces had reached the Rhine (end of February)
  • Many Germans, including soldiers welcomed the allies advance as they wished for them to occupy as much of the country before the Russians, whom they feared far more.
  • As the battle for Berlin began at 5:00am on 16th April, Hitler remained isolated in his bunker, in his own dreamworld. 
  • Hitler was delusional and continued to talk of victory
  • On the 30th of April, Soviet troops infiltrated the Reichstag and Hitler, along with some of his right-hand men, e.g. Goebbels, committed suicide.
  • Berlin was reduced to rubble, with 75% of its buildings uninhabitable 
  • On May 1st, the Soviets displayed their flag on the roof of the Reichstag
  • The continued fight to destruction was largely due to Hitler's intransigence, and the allies insistence on 'unconditional surrender'.
  • Hitlers successor, Donitz, tried to avoid total surrender in order to continue the fight against the 'Bolsheviek mortal enemy'.
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The War Legacy

  • The war had brought death, misery and physical destruction throughout the nation
  • The country was left in a state of chaos, shock and disarray, and a mixture of bewilderment and demoralisation left the country in a state of paralysis 
  • The Ruhr was described as "the greatest heap of rubble the world has ever seen"
  • 6.5 million Germans had been killed; many unaccounted for on the Soviet front
  • "The Russians swept the native population clean in a manner that had no parallel since the days of the Asiatic hordes"
  • Around 90,000 women were systematically ***** by Soviet soldiers during the week of the 2nd-7th of May
  • 150,000-200,000 'Russian babes' were to be born in what was to become the Russian zone 
  • People survived in overcrowded, cramped living conditions
  • Trummerfrauen - name given to the women who stood passing stones and brickes from one another during the reconstruction of buildings
  • June 1945 - average calorie intake in the American zone was 806 (2,445 in 1940-41)
  • Black Market became common 
  • Health was a major issue - outbreak of Dysentry in Berlin in July 1945 - 10 people a day were dying
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Establishment of the 4 zones

  • The allies' initial post war planning involved the establishment of a military occupation 
  • September 1943 - 'Post-Hostilities Planning Sub-Committee' presented a map showing 3 zones (USSR, US and British, with roughly equal population densities)
  • It was agreed that a Control Council should be set up to coordinate the allie's policies

Yalta Conference (Feb. 1945)

  • Attended by Britain, America and the USSR 
  • Agreed that France should have its own zone of occupation
  • North-East Prussia was given to the Russians 
  • Polish borders were decided
  • Saw general agreements on the 4 D's - democratisation, decentralisation, denazification and demiliterisation 
  • Stalin wanted control over 80% of all German factories

5th June - Germany was divided into 4 occupation zones - USSR acted with greatest speed, and by July 9th five Lander had already been created within the Soviet zone and SMAD (Soviet Military Administration) had already began work in Berlin

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The Potsdam Conference - Aug. 1945

  • Only served to reaffirm the disagreements between the allies
  • France did NOT attend and Churchill was replaced by Atlee and Roosevelt was replaced by Truman - this made the decision making process harder and meant that Stalin was left as the elder-statesman (this gave him an advantage in some negotiations)
  • The allies failed to come to a joint agreement on reparations
  • They agreed Germany should pay $20 billion, however they disagreed on how or when the sum should be paid
  • It was decided that each occupaying power should take reparations from their own zone
  • This turned the 4 zones into separate economic units - made Control Council unworkable
  • Each zone started to adopt differing political and social policies, with each believing that their system was superior to that of the others 
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The Nuremburg Trials

  • Allied leaders were united in their determination to punish the leading Nazis

The trials investigated war guilt of:

  • Individuals
  • The German govenment
  • General Army staff
  • **, SA and SD
  • Gestapo 
  • Leaders of the NSDAP

Government and General staff were cleared in general terms, but the other organisations were declared criminal

  • At the trial they key Nazis pleaded 'not guilty
  • Goerring, Ribbentrop and Frank were all sentenced to death

Impact on Germans = most felt detached, accepting that the accused were responsible and feeling no degree of complicity 

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Potential Problems:

  • Some Nazis were in hiding or had lied to avoid fines or imprisonment
  • Much evidence had been destroyed or lost
  • Skilled individuals were needed to aid Germany's recovery
  • Western allies were never clear on whether they were punishing or rehabilitating Germany

Western Allies:

  • Saw Nazism as the result of decisions made by individuals 
  • Began converting Germans from Nazism to democracy 
  • Showed Germans the camps - made them dig mass graves
  • Initially the Americans felt the Germans should accept guilt - "Every German is a bad German"
  • 'Persil certificates' (June 1945) - those dismissed from their jobs could appeal to an arbitration tribunal and present a testimony of good behaviour from priests or collegues 
  • Colleges were set up to re-educate adults
  • Nazi Party was declared illegal 
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The Soviets:

  • Viewed Nazism as a consequence of capitalist economic and social structures 
  • Carried out purges in the teaching profession and the judiciary 
  • More lenient towards the medical profession - doctors were needed due to poor public health
  • 11 internment camps established - modelled on Soviet Gulags - 43,000 Germans died
  • Ex-Nazi employees and party members were given the lowest level of ration card and pay
  • 1967 - Russians offered a general amnesty to those who were prepared to help further the socialist society in East Germany

Impact of Denazification:

  • Most condemned regained positions consistent with their social and educational background
  • Western allies became more concerned with rebuilding Germany 
  • Inconsistent approach - caused resentment 
  • Some Nazis managed to escape fully, e.g. Josef Mengele
  • Creation of a 'commuity of the aggrieved' - Hostility towards the occupying allied powers 
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Political developments in the Western Zones

Focus = democratisation and decentralisation 

  • September 1945 - Licences to form parties that could participate in local elections were made available, but ONLY to parties believed to be democratic in nature
  • The emerging political scene in the West, in some respects, looked as though it might echo the days of the Weimar Republic
  • In the local and Land elections, the CDU/CSU and the SPD were overwhelmingly the most successful parties
  • The Communists and Liberal Democrats gained some representation, but seldom won overall control 
  • Most of the smaller parties were unsuccessful and eventually disbanded
  • 1948 - Konrad Adenauer (CDU/CSU) - elected President of the Parlimentary Council (a body chosen to draw up the political foundations for the new German Republic)
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Economic Developments in the Western Zones

Inital aim = eliminate Germany's war potential and provide reparations, but allow sufficient reconstruction to provide for immediate needs of German people

Level of Industry Plan (1946) 

  • Germany's standard of living should be at its 1932 level and should not exceed rest of Europe
  • Industrial capacity should be reduced to 50-55% of the 1938 level
  • Armaments and war-related industries should be banned
  • American proposal = should only pay reparations when self-sufficient - rejected by USSR

May 1946 - American governer, Lucius D. Clay announced that the US would no longer provide the Russians with goods from their zones until it stopped acting independently (separate E unit)

Western powers were concerned that a weak economy would leave West Germany open to a communist takeover

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Economic Developments in the Western Zones (Cont.)

Paris Conference (1946) 

  • Britain and America agreed their zones would work together in an economic union
  • Bizona = formed on the 1st January 1947
  • Decentralisation made limited progress - some trusts were broken up e.g. I. G. Farben

Truman Doctorine (12 March 1947)

  • To 'contain' communism and prevent Soviet expansionism
  • This was the final straw for any attempt at coorporation in Germany

Marshall Aid

  • Important step towards West German economic recovery - rejected by the USSR as it was based on a free-market economy and would benefit American exports

Revised Level of Industry Plan (August 1947)

  • Production in British and US zones permitted to increase to 70-75% of 1938 level
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Political developments in the Soviet Zone

FOCUS = Establish communism quickly so that it would become the dominant government in a united Germany 

30 April 1945Exiled communists, including Ulbricht, flew from the USSR to Germany with the aim of setting up local govenments as soon as the fighting stopped

Early May 1945Ulbricht installed local mayors and officials which were all communists. Communists also became head of education and the police

June 1945Piek was sent to Germany from Moscow - established political parties to form an 'Anti-Fascist Democratic Bloc'

9 July 1945Five Lander (local state governments) had already been created

April 1946SED created due to a forced merger between the SPD and the KPD

November 1946SED drew up plans for a German Democratic Republic (GDR)

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Economic Developments in the Soviet Zone

INITIAL AIM = Take maximum amount of reparations from their zone

  • Whole industrial plants were shipped to the USSR
  • The actions that the Soviets took suggests that Stalin was NOT expecting the occupation and division of Germany to last as long as it did (till 1991)

July 1945 - New system of centralised banking was established

September 1945

  • The Soviets began to nationalise mines and factories, and by 1949, 60% of all industry and commerce in the Soviet zone had been nationalised (sought to get rid of Junkers)
  • 7000 large estates were siezed and the land was turned into collective state farms

By June 1946, 25 Soviet-owned joint stock companies (SAGs) were formed by almagamating 213 firms - these controlled 60% of industry by 1948 

June 1947 - in response to Western economic developments, the German Economic Commission was set up - produce economic development plan for the Soviet zone

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Division - The influence of the Western powers

Feb-March/April-May 1948US, UK and France held a conference in London to discuss German affairs. They agreed on developing a federal form of government in Western Germany.

January 1948Soviet guards stopped a British military train and in February the Soviets delayed a US military train travelling to Berlin - this petty interference increased tension

31 March 1948Soviets ordered that baggage and personnel on military trains to and from Berlin were to be checked by their inspectors. Britain and America rejected these regulations and ordered guards to proceed through the check points and prevent Soviet personnel entering the trains

5 April 1948A Soviet fighter plane collided with a British transport plane approaching an airfield in the British Sector

10 April - 18 June 1948Soviets eased their restrictions on allied military trains - unsuccessful attempt to dissuade the Western powers from plans for a provisional West German government and currency reform 

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Division - Currency Reform

Western Zone:

  • Reichsmark was virtually valueless - most deals were done on the black market
  • 1958 - Bank Deutscher Lander established to act as a central bank
  • Pressure put on France - US refused to offer Marshall Aid to a separate French zone
  • 17th June 1948 - Trizonia created 
  • 20th June 1948 - Currency Reform 

Soviet Zone:

  • Claimed that the W. currency reform had broken Potsdam agreement - single economic unit
  • Possession of the new Western currency in the Eastern zone = criminal offence
  • 23 June 1948 - SMAD issued order announcing currency reform (Eastmark) in the Soviet zone and ALL sectors of Berlin 
  • West's response = Deutschmark would come into use in the 3 western sectors of Berlin
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Division - Berlin Blockade

Soviet reaction to Western currency reform = suspended road and railway passenger traffic to and from Berlin and reduced freight traffic

  • The West had to take to the air in order to be able to send supplies to maintain their half of Berlin 
  • 26 June 1948The First planes arrived in West Berlin 
  • Response from West Berliners = largely positive 
  • When it became clear that the soviets were not going to lift the blockage the Western allies found more planes and increased tonnage dropped each month - by January 1949 there was enough to be able to start stockpiling 
  • May 1949 = Blockade ended 
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Division - The creation of the two Germanies

Creation of the FRG:

  • Set up May 1949; formally came into existence September 1949
  • Basic Law - established a federal state, President couldn't remove Chancellor - 5% rule in the Bunderstag needed for a party to gain representation/seats 
  • Allied High Commission - dealt with Foreign affairs until 1951
  • 14 August 1949 - First national elections held - CDU/CSU win with 139 seats (SPD = 131)
  • Adenauer becomes Chancellor 

Creation of the GDR:

  • Not established until after the elections were held in the West - made it clear no last minute compromise would be made
  • 7 October 1949 - GDR created 
  • Real power lay in the hands of Ulbricht as First Secretary of the SED 
  • Huge celebrations were ordered to mark the launching of the new Soviet state
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FRG - Konrad Adenauer

  • Chancellor between 1949 and 1963
  • First Chancellor of the FRG
  • Slogan = 'No experiments' - this appealed to FRG citizens who wanted a quiet life and to leave politics to the politicians ('Count Me Out' attitude)
  • He was skilful in his dealings with other countries - didn't display an inferiority complex when dealing with the USSR and USA
  • Adenauer built up an effective national party organisation with appealed to ALL
  • He was adept in holding together a poltical coalition of varying interests - the coalition integrated a wide range of views 
  • Refugees were gradually integrated into society - 5% rule for the Bunderstag elections meant that in 1957 the Alliance of Expellees and Disenfranchised Persons (BHE) ceased to be represented 
  • Extremist parties were banned  - KPD in 1956
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Policies of Adenauer's governments, 1949-57

1949 Collective Bargaining Law on Industrial Relations - maintained good labour relations through co-determination in 1950 (participation of workers in decision-making processes)

1950 Construction Law - reconstruction was a big task facing the government. This law gave grants to the Lander and cities for building projects - by 1957 4 million new homes had been built.

1951 Reinstatement Act - many ex-Nazis were re-employed in civil service jobs

1952 Works Constitution Law - extended workers consultative counchils throughout industry for enterprises with more than 20 employees - created framework for peaceful labour relations

1953 Equilisation of Burdens Act - gave compensation to victims of Nazi crimes - 110.4 billion DM had been redistributed by 1978 

1956 Creation of Bundeswehr - initial hostility from SPD supporters - it was made so that it could never develop into an independent and influential organisation like the old Reichswehr

1957 New Pensions Act - welfare reform; provided for index-linked state pensions and an initial rise of 60-75% in pension payments

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Reasons for Adenauer's Longevity as Chancellor

Economic Growth:

  • Economic Miracle (1953)- economy growing at approximately 8% per annum
  • Trade unions - low wage demands, low strike records and relative lack of militancy
  • Co-determination (1950s) - good relations with the workers maintained
  • Supply of cheap labour from the GDR
  • Improvements in living conditions - average disposable income of an FRG household grew by 400% between 1950 and 1970

SPD Weakness:

  • Schumacher (SPD leader) made mistake of opposing Adenauer's moves to align with the West
  • Wrongly predicted the CDU/CSU's policies would lead to economic disaster
  • Represented working class views - FRG was becoming more affluent and middle-class
  • Internal Division - centred around issues regarding rearmament and remilitarisation 
  • Ollenhauer (replaced Schumacher in 1952) - was uninspiring (contrasted with Adenauer who was very charismatic and knew how to read his audience)
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Reasons for Adenauer's Longevity as Chancellor

Strong Anti-Communist Sentiment: 

  • The Nazis gained a lot of power due to the fact that many Germans were anti-Communist
  • The developments of the KPD in the GDR impacted on the party's appeal in the FRG
  • SPD = smeared with the 'Red Brush' due to the creation of the SED in the GDR
  • 1953 - KPD gained 2.2% of the vote
  • 1956 - KPD was banned in the FRG due to its 'non-democratic beliefs
  • Fear of the 'Bolshevik threat' provided powerful support for Adenauer's policies of W integration

Use of former Nazis within his administration:

  • Adenauer drew on the talents of capable administrators and politicians 
  • 1951 - 131 Law - allowed former Nazis to be employed in civil service
  • Hans Globke - former Nazi party member and Adenauers Secretary of State and Chief Aide
  • 1949 Foreign Ministry created - 39 out of 49 senior members were ex-Nazi party members
  • By the early 1950s, 40-80% of officials, including most members of the Judiciary, were former NSDAP members
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FRG's Economic Starting Point

    = positive        = negative

    There was a brief boom from March to August 1948 during which the economy grew by 30%

    On 12 November 1948 there was a 24 hour strike by 9 million workers over living standards

    By 1950 prices were rising and 2 million were unemployed (8.1%)

    By 1950 the impact of Marshall Aid was being felt. There was investment in electrical and steel industries and money was being used to improve railways

Overall = the situation didn't look promising 

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The Social Market Economy

'The Third Way' - Elements of both a free market economy and state control (Businesses would be independent to encourage competition, but the state would intervene if necessary)

State intervention in the 1950s:

  • 1951 Investment Aid Law - government subsidy of 3.2 billion DM to manufacturing industry
  • 1957 Anti-Trust Law 
  • Tight banking controls 
  • Halved protective tariffs 
  • Policy of co-determination 

Avoided intervention in the 1950s:

  • Gave manufacturing industries the task of allocating raw materials through their own organisations 
  • The policy of co-determination meant that trade unions remained moderate in their demands and there was a low strike record in the FRG
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Reasons for Economic Growth in the 1950s

  • Social Markey Economy led by Erhard
  • Natural advantages e.g. coal, seaports, good communcations and the River Rhine
  • Refugees and guest workers - provided cheap and flexibile labour - in the 1950s approximately 3 million people fled from the East 
  • Role of Adenauer - reintegrated FRG into Europe e.g. working with the ECSC (1951)
  • Demilitarisation - didn't need to lay aside large sums of money for rearmament 
  • The careful monetary policies of the Bundesbank - 1948 currency reform stopped the relatively high rate absenteeism from work as people wanted to earn the new currency 
  • Marshall Aid - $1.5 billion between 1948-52. Allowed the FRG to be able to expand heavy industry and purchase essential equipment. Boosted economic confidence - stimulated the economy and acted as a pyschological prop 
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Economic Growth in the 1950s

First half of the 1950s - sustained economic growth 

1955 - early 1960s - more variable in terms of growth 

  • Growth rate of 8% per annum 
  • Unemployment fell from 8.1% in 1950 to 0.5% in ____
  • Exports were strong (helped by Korean War in 1950)
  • Real incomes began to rise from 1952-3
  • Rebuilding of homes and cities (4 million homes built by 1957 as part of the 1950 Construction Law)
  • Transport network was overhauled (examined and repaired)
  • Investment increased and old firms thrived e.g. Krupp and Thyssen 
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Impact of the Economic Miracle

    = positive        = negative

  • Economic policies widened the gap between the rich and the poor
  • Rise in living standards
  • Decrease in number of self-employed workers in agriculture, trade and commerce
  • Industrial workforce steadily grew
  • Workers wages remained low
  • A large proportion of the nations wealth was concetrated in a few hands
  • There was a general feeling of affluence
  • Average disposable income of an FRG household increased by 400% between 1950-1970
  • Most FRG citizens felt satisfied that they were living in a 'land of plenty' 
  • People could find employment
  • People lived in comfortable homes and were able to obtain sufficient food
  • Rise in consumerism 
  • Prosperity reinforced commitment to the CDU/CSU and democracy in general 
  • An 'underclass' of guest workers was created 
  • Mid 1960s = signs that the 'economic miracle' had run its course - FRG entered a mini-recession - saw the appearance of the National German Party (NPD)
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The Emergence of NATO (April 1949)

17 March 1948 - Brussels Pact signed (inc. Britain and France) and the EDO was formed

Aim of EDO = prevent any German resurgence which might threaten security of post-war Western Europe, however its true motive was protection against the advance of communism 

US reassessed their position - EDO was 'too European and small', an Atlantic Alliance would allow US to have real influence in European defence (cold war tensions)

1950 - Adenauer began to argue for the creation of an 'armed security police' (Bundeswehr)

Stalins Note (1952) - Stalin was anxious to prevent any US supported rearmament of the FRG from taking place - offered the prospect of a united and neutral Germany 

May 1955 - FRG became a member of NATO. Soviet reaction = recognised sovereignty of the GDR and created the Warsaw Pact

1961 - FRG had 350,000 soldiers and was the second strongest force in NATO 

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The European Economic Community (EEC)

Treaty of Paris (1951) - established a single authority, merging coal, steel and iron industries in West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

  • It eliminated tariffs and produced a free labour market (short term concerns were economic)
  • Britain refused to take part
  • The ECSC began to function in July 1952 - also signified a 'peace treaty' between Germany and France
  • FRG joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1952
  • Treaty of Rome (March 1957) - set up the EEC - the ECSC was merged into this new organisation 
  • At the time, America was beginning to adopt a more flexible approach to the USSR = this alarmed Adenuaer and led to a fierce debate
  • Erhard and Schroder were more pro-America
  • January 1963 - Adenauer gave his approval to De Gaulle's veto of Britain's application to join the EEC 
  • Elysee Treaty - a Franco-German treaty of friendship - was signed the same month 
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The Hallstein Doctorine

  • Since 1949 Adenauer had insisted that the FRG represented 'the sole legitimate state organisation of the German people' - GDR was seen as an illegitimate Soviet puppet state
  • 1955 - GDR changed its stance and described itself as a 'second German state
  • December 1955 - Adenauer threated that the FRG would break off diplomatic relations with any country which established diplomatic relations with the GDR = Hallstein Doctorine
  • October 1957 - Bonn broke of relations with Belgrade after Yugoslavia established diplomatic ties with the GDR (Also Cuba in 1963) - proved an effective deterent 
  • However, the FRG was prevented from establishing relations with the Warsaw Pact states and China, both of whom had recognised the GDR (1949-1950)
  • While the Doctorine suggested Western commitment to reunification, it had the adverse effect of making the GDR even more dependent on the USSR
  • The Doctorine was eventually loosed by Brandt in the 1960s and ended in 1972
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The Berlin Crisis of 1958-61

1958 = CRISIS POINT - open border in Berlin led to the loss of skilled workers from the GDR

  • Ulbricht was desperate to win Soviet support for a wall - Khrushchev rejected this proposal 
  • However, the FRG membership of NATO, the deteriorating relationship with China and the Hallstein Doctorine all concerned Khrushchev
  • Berlin Ultimatum (Nov. 1958) - FRG had 6 months to recognise existence of the GDR and accept Berlin as an independent 'free city' - West rejected this ultimatum 
  • Foreign Ministers Conference (Summer 1959) - Adenauer produced the Globke Plan
  • Globke Plan = FRG and GDR should recognise each others sovereignty, Berlin should be turned into a free city and referendum on reunification should take place
  • Never seriously discussed as, when a US spy plan was shot down while on a mission over the Soviet Union, Khrushchev walked out of the Paris Conference (May 1960)
  • JFK - Khrushchev thought he would be easy to manipulate due to his young age, but he was wrong
  • JFK refused to compromise on Berlin and increased defence spending, called up army reservists, re-activated ships and in July 1961 called for the building of NATO forces
  • He declared, "...we will not permit the Communists to drive us out of Berlin..."
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The Berlin Wall, 1961

13 August 1961 - the border between East and West Berlin was closed and all telephone lines from West Berlin were cut 

JFK - "The Blockade of East Berlin is a visible sign of the defeat of the Communist system for all the world to see... EG Regime bears the responsibility for the inhumane imprisonment of its own population..."

JFK - made no further ultimatum realising the only other alternative was war - it was clear the US wanted to maintain Detente with the USSR

Adenauer -  failed to visit Berlin for 9 days

Brandt - criticised the West, "...the curtain went up and the stage was empty" 

Khrushchev - "...I think it was a great victory for us, it was won without firing a single shot"

Outcome - the US had effectively acknowledged the GDR by tolerating the building of the Wall and this forced the FRG to recognise the fact also.

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Factors leading to Adenauer's resignation in 1963

1) Majority of the FDP broke away from the coalition in 1956

  • Many disagreed with Adenauers rigid and uncompromising attitude to the GDR and the USSR 
  • At a local level some co-operated with the SPD 

2) SPD changed its approach after its defeat in 1957

  • Declared support for Western integration, dropped opposition to membership of NATO, accepted Erhard's Social Market Economy and abandoned the part of the constitution which committed it to the overthrow of capitalist society 
  • 1959 Bad Godesberg Programme - aimed at widening its appeal - ' People's party' 
  • August 1960 - Party chose Brandt as the Party's Chancellor candidate 
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Factors leading to Adenauer's resignation in 1963

3) Adenauers errors 

  • Presidential candidate (1959) - withdrew after the Constitution did not allow him to combine 2 roles and there was no protege to replace him as Chancellor
  • His actions were viewed as arrogant and weakened his authority within his own party
  • Serious political miscalculation (1961) - delayed visiting Berlin for 9 days after the wall went up and Brandt accused him of indifference 
  • 1961 Elections - CDU/CSU vote fell to 46% while the FDPs increased to 12.8% and thus held the balance

4) The 'Der Spiegel Affair' 

  • Adenauer supported Strauss against the news magazine Der Spiegel 
  • Strauss had ordered the arrest of the editors of the article which criticised the Bunderswehr
  • Strauss accused the magazine of treason 
  • Press outcry and student demonstrations - flashbacks to Nazi Germany 
  • 5 FDP Ministers resigned - Adenauer tried to negotiate coalition with the SPD - FDP agreed to return if Strauss was removed and Adenauer agreed to step down by 1963
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Establishment of SED rule - Initial Developments


  • Drawn up by leaders of the SED
  • Established 'Democratic Socialism' - there appeared to be a chain of authority from the people upwards but in reality the people had limited choice and the Volkskammer was a rubber stamp

Initial Developments:

  • October 1949 - temporary coalition formed with the SED as the most dominant party
  • Elections were delayed for a year so SED could build up power base
  • 1950 - The Stasi was established
  • Public show trials were used for political dissidents 
  • FDGB and FDJ were infiltrated and had representation within the government 
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Establishment of SED rule - The 1950 Elections

  • Under Soviet pressure, the elections were delayed for a year to allow the SED to build up its power base
  • SED persuaded the CDU and LDP to join it in a 'National Front'
  • Impact = voters at the polls had very little choice 
  • The Elections were held in atmosphere of intimidation (the Stasi)
  • 99.72% of the voters voted for the 'unity list' according to GDR official statistics
  • SED won 25% of the vote outright 
  • 30% of the vote was won by the mass organisations e.g. the FDJ - these had links with the SED party 
  • The Bourgeois (middle class) parties were carefully pushed to the political fringes and when, in 1952 the 5 Lander were abolished and replaced with 14 Districts, central-dominated SED control was extended further
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Establishment of SED rule - Leadership of Ulbricht

Years: 1950 - 1971

  • Became Party Secretary in 1950 (renamed First Secretary in 1953)
  • Initially faced challenges from within his party and the ''Big Brother' USSR watching him
  • Late 1940s - early 1950 - brutal suppression used; mass purges in 1948 and 1951
  • Ulbricht consolidated his position after the failed 1953 uprising 
  • End of 1950s - position was more secure - 'loyal' backing of Honecker and central control had been tightened e.g. judiciary was politically biased and the Stasi was set up in 1950
  • 1961 Berlin Wall - led to greater security of Ulbrichts personal position - led  to more qualified 'technical experts' being brought into the party machine
  • He sustained his position because it was in the interests of the USSR (Cold War)
  • The 'ruling class' which determined how the country was run was small - between 1940-1960 they lived in secluded, well-guarded and spacious old villas and from 1960 they were moved to a walled-in residential settlement
  • Fulbrook refers to this as 'the height of hypocritical luxury' 
  • Being a member of the ruling class meant submission to party discipline and no personal life
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The 1953 Riots - Causes

Short term cause = Ulbrichts May Directive (increased work norms by 10%)

Mass Exodus

  • 1951-1953 - 447,000 people left the GDR = negative impact on the economy
  • Feb. 1953 - Bishops of the Evangelical Church warned the government to take notice

Agriculture and Industry

  • 1952 - Major wave of collectivisation 
  • Farmers were bitter about low prices for their crops and high fines
  • Workers resented low wages, high taxation and rising food prices
  • Independent businessmen feared nationalisation 


  • Stalins death - Ulbricht became more vunerable - new USSR leadership favoured detente 
  • Early June - SED leaders summoned to Moscow and told to halt collectivisation 
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The 1953 Riots - Impact

  • Harsh prison sentences - 6000 arrests took place and people were convicted on political charges since the GDR's constitution contained the right to strike
  • 7 death sentences were imposed - an estimated 125 people died (GDR/SED said it was 21)
  • 'New Course' was confirmed - lowered prices, increased pensions and consumer goods and Ulbricht had to back down on the work norms (abandoned/replaced with 2nd 5 year plan)
  • Protesters had failed - had the adverse effect of consolidating authoritarian rule
  • 1954 Elections - 20/28 Ministries given to SED members - Ulbricht re-elected
  • SED was purged - 20,000 civil servants and 50,000 lesser party members lost their jobs (especially former SPD members)
  • Stasi was reformed - ordered to complete daily reports
  • Soviets obliged to declare formal recognition of the GDR
  • USSR influence increased - COMECON (aimed at developing trade)
  • Events showed the West were unwilling to intervene outside of their own zones
  • Adenauer banned West Germany's KPD as they had supported the suppression of the riots
  • Some West German communists left the FRG for the GDR
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Further Troubles in 1956

  • Khrushchev 1956 'Secret Speech' - announced policy of destalinisation - this had support
  • Criticism of the SED was still apparent 
  • Posen Uprising (June 1956) 
  • Hungarian Uprising (Oct. 1956) - led to further industrial unrest in the GDR and trouble in the East German Universities


  • There had been plans in Moscow to replace him with a more moderate figure
  • The Hungarian Uprising along with Ulbricht's prompt action to prevent an escalation of troubles in the GDR by making concessions (release of 20,000 political prisoners and a cut in the working day) helped save his position
  • Khrushchev was anxious to avoid unrest in another satellite state by undermining its leadership and gave Ulbricht another chance 
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GDR's Economic Starting Point

  • Ulbrichts approach to reconstruction contrasted strongly with Adenauers - all policies in the GDR were shaped by communist ideology 
  • Main commitment = build up a new workers and peasants state
  • Reviving and remoulding the economy proved a difficult task - especially in the early years
  • In comparison to the FRG, it had some clear disadvantages and the SED's approach did not help matters
  • USSR - dismantling of over a thousand industrial plants 
  • USSR took heavy reparations - 25% of all industrial goods until 1950 
  • GDR cut off from supplies of coal and steel from the Ruhr 
  • Loss of skilled labour to the West (Mass Exodus)
  • COMECON (1949) - established as a response to the Marshall Plan - controlled direction of the economy - by 1951 76% of the GDR's trade was directed to the Soviet Bloc
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GDR's Economic Starting Point

  • Ulbrichts approach to reconstruction contrasted strongly with Adenauers - all policies in the GDR were shaped by communist ideology 
  • Main commitment = build up a new workers and peasants state
  • Reviving and remoulding the economy proved a difficult task - especially in the early years
  • In comparison to the FRG, it had some clear disadvantages and the SED's approach did not help matters
  • USSR - dismantling of over a thousand industrial plants 
  • USSR took heavy reparations - 25% of all industrial goods until 1950 
  • GDR cut off from supplies of coal and steel from the Ruhr 
  • Loss of skilled labour to the West (Mass Exodus)
  • COMECON (1949) - established as a response to the Marshall Plan - controlled direction of the economy - by 1951 76% of the GDR's trade was directed to the Soviet Bloc
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Economic Plans Under Ulbricht - Industry

  • 213 SAGs established to produce goods for the USSR (reparations)
  • Most plants became VEBs - accounted for 76% of total industrial productions 
  • 5 Year Plans were launched on the Soviet model - ambitious targets which were constantly revised to give the impression of progress
  • 1st 5 Year Plan (1950) - emphasis on heavy industry and remilitarisation 
  • Due to the low starting base the plan was viewed as a success, especially in iron and steel
  • Economy able to absorb and profit from the 3.25 million expellees into the workforce
  • SED Conference (1952) - GDR now reasy for 'Building of Socialism
  • Attempts to raise productivity led to 1953 uprising  
  • 2nd 5 Year Plan (1956) - introduced more regional specialisation - failed and quietly abandoned in 1959 
  • 7 Year Plan - ambitious targets focusing on energy, chemicals and engineering 
  • Ulbricht wanted 'production to be increased so that by the end of 1961 the Socialist Economy could overtake that of the FRG'
  • There were some initial successes but the targets were unrealistic and the plan was abandoned in 1962
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Economic Plans Under Ulbricht - Agriculture

  • Move towards collectivisation - 1945 Land Reforms (broke up large land-holdings) and 2 waves of collectivisation (1952 and 1960)
  • 1952 - former independent farmers were forced to become members of collectives. 
  • 1959 - 45% of agriculture fell into this category
  • 1960 - 85% of agriculture was collectivised. Collectives had to own their own livestock and machinery 
  • Changes to agriculture were initially detrimental to production and a lack of food supplies contributed to the 1953 Uprising 
  • Fat consumption was only 50% of what it had been between 1934-38 
  • Lack of fertilisers reduced crop yield while shortage of livestock reduced the country's supply of milk, cheese and meat
  • Impact = rationing of meat, sugar and butter had to be reintroduced in 1961
  • Situation improved in the 1970's - the GDR was largely self-sufficient however there was  a restricted choice of diet
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State Socialism - A Workers Paradise?


  • Reasonable degree of security in employment and housing
  • Everyone had a job
  • Basic foodstuffs were subsidised 
  • Efforts made to help women enter/remain in the workforce
  • Factories were like second homes - many had hospitals and nurseries 
  • Brought upward social mobility for those from disadvantaged backgrounds


  • Workers were compelled to belong to the FDGB which acted as a mouthpiece for the SED - reporting on any subversive activity and ensuring government decrees were carried out
  • There were wage differentials - top scientists and doctor commanded higher salaries whereas wages for the masses remained low
  • Promotion was reliant on the state - only made available to political conformists#
  • 'Class Enemies' were subject to discrimination 
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State Socialism - Youth and Education

Aim = indoctrinating children in Marxist-Leninism

  • Youth activities were strictly controlled and monitored by the SED
  • FDJ established in 1946 to educate young people in the principles of the state
  • FDJ membership was voluntary - however if one wished to advance in education or employment membership and political conformity was essential
  • German Gymnastics and Sports Federation - responsible for training athletes for competition
  • Private schools were abolished
  • 1959 - a new system of comprehensive schools was established - marxist-leninism was a compulsary subject at ALL levels of education
  • Purpose of schools was to produce a supply of skilled workers, technicians and managers for industry and agriculture
  • Occasional youth protests in universities and some 'deviant' behaviour

Overall = youth policy was quite successful before the 1980s

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State Socialism - Women

  • 1949 Constitution of the GDR guaranteed women equality before the law which included the right to work and equal pay
  • 1968 Revised Constitution stated that it was women's 'duty' to work
  • By 1977 - 87% of women between the ages of 16 and 69 had a job outside the home
  • The 'New Socialist Woman' was often burdened with both work and home duties
  • 1965 Family Code - called on men to do their share of household chores/rearing of the children
  • Women could take one 'housework day' off work a month - however this wasn't enough

High Divorce Rates = suggests women had oppurtunites for greater economic independence (+ve)

High Remarriage Rates = suggests women felt the need for a partner on whom they could rely on for income (-ve)

Reality = women never came to enjoy the equality which was promised to them - many remained in low-paid, unskilled jobs

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State Socialism - Culture

  • Social realism (art which expressed socialist values) was the main inspiration of the Arts and Literature
  • Cultural activities were controlled by the state and culture was subject to censorship
  • Writers who felt unable to support the regime left for the West = mass exodus
  • Any type of literature had a political agenda
  • Newspapers and magazines were either produced directly by the SED or were subject to political interference and censorship
  • 1959 - workers were urged to 'take up their pens' while writers were encouraged to seek experience of manual work

Overall = culture thus became subsumed into the state and was often little more than socialist and political propaganda

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State Socialism - The Church

  • The Church was the one institution which hindered the attempt to impose state socialism - this is because the Church is very influential both socially and politically 
  • Protestant churches provided a potential forum for opposition 
  • Ulbricht tried to weaken the churches in the 1950s - church influence in education was removed and the Young Christian Organisation was made illegal 
  • However, churches continued to run old people's homes, childcare facilities and hospitals - meant that the State relied upon them for social support
  • 1958 - truce between the Church and the State = Church was allowed to act as a separate body, respecting the 'development towards socialism' and the State had to accept that every GDR citizen was entitled to freedom of belief
  • 1969 - German Protestants formed their own East German Church and decided to work 'within' the State rather than against or alongside it
  • Relations between the State and the Church improved
  • Many individual Christians simply kept their thoughts private 
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What was the impact of Social and Economic change?

    = positive

    = negative

By 1955 the GDR was the wealthiest country in the Soviet Bloc

GDR economy was growing 5% less per annum than the FRGs - plans to overtake had failed

Ulbricht was never able to bask in the superiority of the Socialist system

Those formerly from the bottom of the social hierachy saw a rapid rise in their fortunes

1952 - inner border had to be fortified with wire fences and armed guards 

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Building of the Berlin Wall - Reasons

Berlin Crossers:

  • Until 1961 Berliners were able to move freely across the city 
  • 53,000 East Berliners worked in the Western Sector of Berlin
  • Many who left were young and skilled - weakened GDR's economy 
  • Encouraged obvious comparisons in lifestyle - West spent money putting capitalism on display
  • 1949-1961 - 2.5 million left the GDR - 1.6 million left through Berlin 

Cold War - Berlin held symbolic importance and was a useful base for espionage 

Berlin Crisis, 1958-61:

  • Nov 1958 - Khruschev issued Berlin Ultimatum - West had 6 months to recognise the GDR and accept Berlin as an independent 'free city' - REJECTED
  • Nov 1960 - JFK became president - Khrushchev believed he would be easy to manipulate but JFK refused to compromise on the status of Berlin - increased defence spending, reactivated ships and in July 1961 he called for a build up of NATO forces 
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Building of the Berlin Wall - Consequences

    = social         = political/cold war         = economic

  • Ulbricht got his 'anti-fascist protective wall' - could begin to consolidate his rule
  • USSR had not sold out to the West
  • JFK - "A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war"
  • Families were divided and people couldn't get to their jobs
  • East Germans formed a niche society 
  • West Berlin recieved subsidies from the FRG to stop young people leaving
  • Conrad Schumann - soldier who jumped the wall 48 hours after it went up
  • Over 100 people were shot trying to escape 
  • Ulbricht took a more flexible approach to win support of GDR citizens 
  • Adenauer delayed visiting Berlin for 9 days
  • Wall prevented mass exodus - GDR now had a guaranteed labour supply
  • Ulbricht introduced the New Economic System 
  • First 6 weeks - 85 East German border guards fled to the West
  • Wall had a propaganda value for the West - used to show repression in the whole Eastern Bloc
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Foreign influences - USSR and the West


  • GDR was firmly planted within the Soviet Bloc and owed its existence to the USSR
  • Almost impossbile for Ulbricht to act without the backing of Russia e.g. 1953 riots
  • As a result GDR had very limited control over its own affairs

The West:

  • Hallstein Doctorine - FRG refused to have diplomatic relations with any country which recognised the GDR as an independent state
  • The West claimed to speak for East Germans in all matters in the absence of any democratic right for them to voice their own opinions 
  • Any country wishing to benefit from trade with the FRG was effectively barred from having anything to do with the GDR
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Foreign Influences - Impact of the Cold War

  • GDR found itself a victim of the Cold War 
  • Berlin held symbolic importance and acted as a base for espionage 
  • Berlin remained divided and the FRG sought Western Integration rather than reunification 
  • Adenuaers 'magnet theory' - East Germans were drawn to the FRG - left the GDR struggling to preserve its own identity 
  • GDR looked eastwards out of necessity e.g. it recognised its frontier with Poland through the 1950 Goerlitz Treaty 
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Foreign Influences - The Warsaw Pact

  • FRGs admittance into NATO in 1955 confirmed the USSRs fears of the dangers of the return of an armed Germany on its borders
  • May 1955 - Warsaw Pact created by USSR
  • The Pact provided friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between communist states
  • Members promised mutual defence but also made a pledge not to interfere in the internal affairs of member nations
  • 1956 National People's Army - was an all-volunteer force in the lower ranks for the first 6 years but conscription was introduced in 1962 as very few volunteered due to a widespread anti-militaristic attitude and a belief that money should be spend on improving living standards
  • NVA's strength was increased to 170,000 troops
  • The army was heavily funded by the USSR - cold war context 
  • Warsaw Pact strengthened the GDR's position as the USSR was forced to recognise its sovereign status 
  • The pact hardened the division of Germany and the FRG still refused to recognise the GDR 
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Internal Western Developments - Timeline

October 1963 - Erhard becomes Chancellor 

December 1963 - Kiesinger forms the Grand Coalition 

April 1968 - Rudi Dutschke is shot

May 1968 - Emergency law is passed by the Bundestag 

October 1969 - Brandt becomes Chancellor 

November 1972 - Brandt is re-elected

November 1973 - Oil Crisis (rise in oil prices)

May 1974 - Brandt resigns; Schmidt becomes Chancellor 

October 1976 - SPD/FDP coalition under Schmidt 

1980 - Formation of the Green Party

October 1982 - Kohl becomes Chancellor

January 1987 - FDP/CDU/CSU coalition under Kohl retains power with a reduced minority 

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Erhard's chancellorship, 1963-66

Replaced Adenauer in 1963 - looked as though little was going to change

First speech = confirmed this expectation - he had nothing new to say on reunification, Berlin, European Integration, defence or NATO 

1964 Economic Growth - production (8%), wages (8.5%) and 850,000 unfilled jobs

1965 Mini-Recession - inflation at 4%, cause was excessive public spending - governments expenditure outstripped its income

Schmidt (SPD) complained the government had overspent on modernisation and paid more than it should have done for military equipment from the US

Erhards 'Green Plan' (subsidised agriculture) - proved costly 

Wages were rising faster than production = high levels of inflation

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Erhard's chancellorship, 1963-66

Forced to cut spending plans by 10% and suggested everyone should work an extra hour a week

Result = criticised by unions who were trying to negotiate higher pay and reduced working week

Interest rates were also raised to reduce demand --> plunged FRG deeper into the recession

Political impact of the recession:

  • NDP (1964) had unexpected success - it decried the 'weak and ineffectual' government and won 8 seats in the Land elections in Hesse and 15 in Bavaria 
  • Commentators began to express the fear that the FRG would (like Weimar) be unable to stand up to the economic crisis
  • July 1966 - lost the Land election in Rhineland-Westphalia - sign of its failing strength 
  • Disputes within the coalition - CDU/CSU wanted to raise taxes while the FDP wanted to cut spending 
  • Erhard failed to persuade the US to accept cuts in the FRG's contribution to the stationing of US troops in West Germany 
  • Result = FDP resigned from the coalition - Erhard forced to resign in November 1966
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The Grand Coalition, 1966-69

December 1966 = temporary alliance formed between the CDU/CSU + SPD to solve problems facing the state

  • SPD = could finally show their ability in government 
  • CDU/CSU = escaped from the demands of the FDP

Most welcomed the development, however some on the left felt that it was tantamount to turning the FRG into a one-party state 

Kiesinger himself also faced criticism from left-wing writers such as Gunter Grass as he had previously been a member of the Nazi party and it was rumoured that his work as a lawyer had forced Nazi Party membership 

May 1968 - constitution was revised which permitted an elected committee to be able to take emergency measures (like Article 48 in the 1930s) in the event of civil unrest or war

Result = left-wing journalists and writers joined students in an outcry of protest. SPD Students' Federation set up the APO which campaigned against the constitutional amendment 

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The Grand Coalition, 1966-69

Political Opposition: 

  • Faced opposition from the NDP- gained 48 seats in 6 different Lander parliaments in 1967
  • In 1968 - won 12 seats in Kiesingers' own Land - Baden-Wurttemberg
  • NPD's very existence caused political agitation - contrasts with political apathy of the 1950s

DKP formed in 1968 - legitimate party was safer than a secret underground network 

Schiller (SPD) + Strauss (CDU/CSU) policies:

  • Stabilisation Law (1967) - increased federal government involvement - could raise loans/tax etc
  • Article 109 - changed to allow greater central government control over the Lander 
  • Increased co-operation - between central and state government in expanding higher education, agriculture, health and economic infrastructure - this altered relationship between the central government and the Lander = essential step to economic growth 
  • 'Concerned Action' - initiative that encouraged cooperation between workers + state
  • Public spending was cut, taxation was raised and VAT increased to 12%

Result = inflation fell to 1.6% and industrial growth had been increasd to 6%

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The fall of the Grand Coalition

Despite economic recovery, the coalition was beset by inner tensions which grew worse in 1969

SPD = felt that the CDU/CSU were holding back welfare reforms and there was disagreement over foreign policy - accused their partners of reluctance to persue detente 

1969 Bunderstag Elections: 

  • Saw a hard-fought campaign in which the SPD set out to win over the disgruntled left-wing journalists and their followers who had opposed the Grand Coalition 
  • Slender majority for the SPD and the FDP (48.5% collectively)
  • Brandt (SPD) and Scheel (FDP) agreed to create a social-liberal coalition government 

Result = Brandt was elected as chancellor by a narrow majority - he was the first SPD chancellor since 1930 and this change of government seemed to allay the fears of those who doubted the FRG's ability to evolve into a successful parliamentary democracy 

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Student Protests of 1968

1968 saw a wave of student unrest all over Europe, however Germany's assumed a character of their own; widest generation gap in Germany and German students were the first generation of the post-Hitler era - 'democracy' had a special meaning for them

  • Young people saw the older generation to be responsible for Germany's past
  • 1963-65 trial of 17 Auschwitz guards renewed the debate and let students to demand that the older generation confronted this
  • Some saw the emergency law and the grand coalition as a move back to the old ways of ruling
  • The fact that there were former Nazi's in positions of power led to accusations of hypocisy
  • There was growing anti-American revulsion as the Vietnam War took its toll
  • Universities were outdated and overcrowded (pre-1945)
  • 1967 Death of Benno  Ohnesorg = 'First political murder in the FRG' - Gunter Grass
  • 2 June Movement - first organisation to declare violence as a legitimate mean of action
  • Kiesinger = "...revolutionary character" "...expression of the forces of anarchy"
  • Demonstrations were directed against 'bourgeois society'
  • Government couldnt win --> when they acted firmly they would be condemned for allowing police brutality; when the students got out of hand, they were accused of acting weakly
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Brandt's Chancellorship, 1969-74

Mayor of West Berlin, 1957-66

Chairman of the SPD, 1964-87

Most remembered for his policy of Ostpolitik with the GDR - step towards reunification 

His election brought high hopes of social reform 

Promised to 'dare more democracy'

He made considerable strides in extending social justice in order to create a fairer democracy

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Social Developments under Brandt - Welfare

Pensions were raised by 5% generally

Sickness benefits went up 9.5% and pensioners were made exempt from contributing to health insurance

Tax-free allowances for children were extended

Fund was set up to help handicapped children

1972 Pension Act - made pensions less dependent on financial contributions

Family and unemployment allowances were raised

Town Planning Act - introduced measures to protect the environment 

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Social Developments under Brandt - Education

Expenditure on education and scientific research was raised by nearly 300% between 1970-74

School leaving age was raised to 16

More places created in schools

More money allocated for school buildings

New scholarships were provided for graduates in 1970 and 1973

1971 Educational Support Law - made grants available to allow students from poorer families to continue their education 

Some Lander introduced comprehensive schools - this caused controversy 

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Social Developments under Brandt - Employment

Allowances for training and for refugees from the GDR were increased

Job Creation Schemes - especially in W. Berlin and more under-developed areas of the FRG

Social housing budget was increased by 36%, railways by 14%

Programme was launched to create new motorways

Increased grants for sport (in an attempt to match GDR

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Social Developments under Brandt - Employment

Allowances for training and for refugees from the GDR were increased

Job Creation Schemes - especially in W. Berlin and more under-developed areas of the FRG

Social housing budget was increased by 36%, railways by 14%

Programme was launched to create new motorways

Increased grants for sport (in an attempt to match GDR successes)

Factory Management Law (1972) - gave workers more say in the running of their factories

Increased power was given to the workers' councils, although this did not become fully operational till 1979

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Social Developments under Brandt - Liberisation

Voting age was lowered to 18 years old 

Equality of the sexes was promoted

Abortion became easier

HOWEVER... the Divorce Law was not reformed in favour of women until 1977

Censorship and laws against homosexuality were relaxed 

Criminal law was reformed to beccome less harsh 

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Economy under Brandt

  • Inflation - money from investors poured into the FRG so banks gave credit on easy terms so more money was in circulation, lead to...
  • Higher prices - as a result workers demanded higher wages however welfare reform had cost a lot which made the situation worse
  • Wages had increased by 145% and cost of living had risen to 4%

Result = In July 1971 the Bunderstag had to be recalled to approve anti-inflammatory measufrs

  • Finance Minister Schiller (right-wing) had resigned in June 1972 and Schmidt took over, combining the Ministry of Finance and Economics
  • HOWEVER... once in power he drove through all of the cuts he had previosuly stopped!
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Brandt's Ostpolitik and the 1972 Election


  • One of Brandt's most memorable successes was his policy of Ostpolitik 
  • Ostpolitik = intended to reduce tensions between the East and the West to enable West Germany to work with the Eastern Bloc (including the GDR) for their mutual benefit 
  • For some conservatives the policy appeared to be an unconstitutional acceptance of the permanent division of Germany and that it went against the Basic Law 
  • April 1972 - vote of no confidence called; Brandt survived by only 2 votes 

November 1972 Election:

  • Called a referendum on Ostpolitik - a vote for the SPD showed support for the policy
  • It was the SPDs biggest victory - proved the coalition was strong and supported 

Result = Brandt was re-elected and the impact of the election was the implementation of The Basic Treaty which was ratified in May 1973

Basic Treaty = FRG recognised GDR as independent and equal state

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Brandt's position by 1973/4

His position appeared to be unassailable 

  • His government was plagued by a wave of terrorism between 1970-72 
  • He did implement measures such as the 1972 New Federal Law which banned 'radicals' from entering public sector employment 
  • However, it wasn''t until Schmidt came to power that the issue of urban terrorism was solved
  • His position was worsened by the 1973 Oil crisis that amplified the already existing economical issues in the FRG
  • HOWEVER... his chancellorship floundered on a different matter

1974 Political Scandal:

  • Gunter Guillaume - GDR spy that worked in FRG's chancellery 
  • Passed crucial FRG documents to the head of the Stasi in the GDR
  • Brandt was apparently aware that Guillaume was under suspicion but failed to act initially
  • The fact he set up measures to prevent spies from working in government suggests that they were ineffective = major failure on Brandts behalf

Result = provoked Brandt's resignation in favour of Schmidt in May 1974

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Urban Terrorism in the 1970s

Baader-Meinhof Gang = resorted to arson, kidnapping, intimidation and assassination 

- One of its leaders said... "We must, I must... liquidate human feeling"

In 1972 Brandt was forced to tighten regulations relating to carrying arms, storing ammo, peddling drugs and threatening politicians in an attempt to deal with the terror - 150,000 police employed

The PLO = another terrorist group that had links with the Baader-Meinhof Gang

- Attacked an Israeli aircraft in 1970, killing one passanger and injuring 11

- Killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972

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The 1973 Oil Crisis

Since 1965, FRG had struggled to control inflation and rising unemployment was a constant threat

1971 - 1973 the world price of non-oil commodities rose by 70% and the price of food by 100%

THEN... in 1973 OPEC doubled the price of crude oil = increased economic instability 


FRG was faced with paying 17 billion DM more for its imports 

Unemployment soared to over 400,000

Temporary ban on Sunday driving had to be introduced

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Reaction to 1973 crisis and economic developments

  • Created more jobs and stimulated investment
  • Tax reductions and increased child allowances
  • Tried to work cooperatively with the EEC to control inflation 
  • 1978 - proposed the European Monetary System at the Bonn Economic Summit = this would fix exchange rates within Europe 
  • Result = 1974 inflation down to 6% and economic growth reached 4%
  • HOWEVER... Progress didnt last long - 1975 unemployment reached 1 million so tax concessions had to be reduced and VAT had to be increased by 2% = angered trade unions

1979 Shah of Iran overthrown ---> 150% added to the price of oil - FRG however didnt suffer as much as the rest of Europe 

Depression seemed worse than it really was:

  • Wages rose, more holidays were given and working hours declined
  • Unempoyment never exceeded 8%, BUT... unemployed guest workers had not been included in the unemployment figure so it is unreliable  
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Schmidt's Chancellorship, 1974-82

  • Had a reputation for tough and decisive action which contrasted strongly with Brandt's more reflective style of rule 
  • Dealt with oil crisis well - kept inflation at 4.6%
  • Conservative Social Democrat with little sympathy for left wing of his party and green issues
  • Continued Brandt's policy of Ostpolitik as it proved very popular
  • 1977 Mogadishu Incident - refused to give into the terrorists and the RAF
  • Political crisis = opposition within his party to the policies of the FDP Economics Minister who was restricting the circulation of money to try and control inflation 
  • Division on the nuclear issue - in particular Schmidt's decision to have US medium range missiles stationed in West Germany 
  • Pressure groups - campaigned on environmental and nuclear issues
  • 1980 Green Party - attracted some of the left-wing SPD members
  • Autumn 1982 - SPD fortunes were in decline while the CDU/CSU had reunited after its splits over Ostpolitik under Helmut Kohl

Result = FDP pulled out of coalition to form a new one with Kohl 

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Kohl's Chancellorship, 1982-89

  • Immediately announced a new economic programme - returned to social market economy
  • SPD was too divided to make a comeback in the 1983 election and it was not prepared to form a coalition with the Green Party which could have let it continue - worst SPD defeat since 1961
  • Unemployment was still growing and he was pressured to do something about the 'underclass'
  • Abandoned the high government spending policies - he brought in tax cuts
  • Continued to subsidise farming, aerospace industry and was obliged to keep a high level of spending on welfare
  • 1987 - despite measures, unemployment was still at over 2.2 million
  • 1985 Fall in oil prices - W. German exports gradually recovered and inflation fell from 6.2% (1981) to 0.6% (1986) = large success
  • Damaged by sleaze - FDP Finance Minister had to resign because he had exempted the Flick Corporation from tax payments 
  • Bittburg Affair - Kohl arranged a ceremony to mark 40th anniversary of the end of WW2 - emerged that ** troops were buried there but Kohl continued = BAD JUDGEMENT
  • 1987 CDU vote fell again (44.3%) to its lowest point since 1949 and Green Party made gain
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The GDR under Honecker

Buiding of the Berlin Wall in 1961 gave the GDR a new lease of life 

Honecker (with USSRs backing) engineered Ulbrichts resignation on 3rd May 1971

1970s seemed to be a stable period of control until the last couple of years 

Border protection coupled with Ostpolitik gave the GDR cash and international recognition 

= imbued the state with a new found confidence 

Honecker pressed ahead with welfare reforms and an increase in consumer goods

Announced policy of 'no taboos' - March 1978 made agreement with the Church - people were allowed to discuss opinions on Church premises - allowed those with grievances to air them ina controlled atmosphere 

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Honecker's Domestic Policies in the 1970s


  • Relationship with the Church improved - Church helped run hospitals and elderly homes
  • Agriculture became more efficient - almost self-sufficient in the 1970s
  • Living standards rose - by mid 1980s nearly 50% of households owned a car
  • Workers were brought in from other EB states to solve the issue of labour shortages
  • COMECON (1949) - increased trade with other countries
  • Benefited from tax-free trade with the FRG
  • Recieved large loans from the FRG
  • Prioritised employment of women - generous maternity benefits 
  • Late 1980s - over 90% of East German women were in paid employment 
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Honecker's Domestic Policies in the 1970s


  • Although the standard of living was high compared to the rest of the Eastern Bloc, it still lagged behind the FRG
  • Women - poorly represented in politics and a large number worked in low-skilled jobs
  • Economic inequality - prices of goods too high for the average East German
  • Flaws in the economy - GDR became dependent on FRG for loans - debt to FRG amounted to 38.5 million DM by 1987
  • 1980s - debt + rising prices + falling incomes = mixture of economic problems
  • Led to cuts in public spending
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GDR under Honecker - Relations with USSR and Easte

  • GDR had relatively unstable relations with the Eastern Bloc due to WW2
  • Oct 1975 - GDR - Soviet Friendship treaty was signed
  • Many East Germans had a negative attitude towards the USSR - partly due to Nazi anti-Communist propaganda + Soviet bruality during occupation 
  • GDRs government made effort to develop a sense of friendship + gratitude to the USSR but most in the East saw them as oppressive forces 
  • Marxist-Leninsm was a compulsary subjecy in all schools - made people dislike USSR more
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GDR under Honecker - Relations with the West

  • Honecker was never invited to visit the UK or the USA
  • Ostpolitik + 4 power agreement led to increasing recognition of the GDR - in 1973 the GDR and the FRG joined the United Nations
  • Established a strong reputation in international sport - in 1974 they defeated the FRG in football and athletics were a major success for them (however they put them on steroids)
  • Helsinki Accords (1975) - signed in an effort to reduce tension between East and West and proved that the GDR had international recognition as an independent state
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GDR under Honecker - Relations with the FRG

  • Honecker rejected idea of reunification - emphasised on 'demarcation' and worked to develop a national identity for the GDR
  • Basic Treaty (1972) - recognised eachother as independent but not foreign states
  • Those who left GDR before 1972 were allowed to visit with no prosecution 
  • 1973 onwards - East German citizens could watch West German TV channels 
  • Access to Western newspapers was strictly controlled and censored
  • 1970s-1980s postal and telephone services improved between the GDR and the FRG
  • GDR portrayed the FRG as too americanised and claimed the GDR had no responsibility for the Nazi war crimes
  • 1974 New Constitution - branded GDR 'Republic of workers and peasants
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Detente, Ostpolitik and Mutual Recognition

1968-1980 - the world entered a period known as Detente = easing of tensions

Moscow Treaty, 1970 - FRG accepted Eastern European borders, no longer claimed to represent all of Germany and agreed that the GDR should join the UN

Warsaw Treaty, 1970 - FRG and Poland recognised Oder-Neisse border, remaining ethnic Germans in Poland were allowed to emigrate to the FRG and the FRG promised Poland trade and financial aid

4 Power Berlin Agreement, 1971 - USSR and GDR recognised W. Berlins ties with the FRG and the right of W. Berliners to visit the FRG - opened the way for a treaty to settle relations between the two Germanies

Basic Treaty, 1972 - FRG recognised GDR as equal, independent but not foreign state, the West German commitment for reunification was repeated and a visa was introduced whereby W. Berliners could stay in East Berlin for one full day

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