DDR Presentation Notes (talk in Wigan 7th March 2015)

The text I gave the presentation from. I’ve not had time to work on it any more so it’s a little rough but readable. I have straight up copied and pasted chunks from various different articles and wikipedia. A large part possibly the majority has been translated by me from German sources, mostly this book.. http://www.amazon.de/Ohne-Mauer-h%C3%A4tte-Kri…/…/3360018257 which as far as I know is only available in German it was written by these great people http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Kessler and Fritz Streletz. 

East and West Germany were on the front lines of the cold war.  Looking back at the existence of the GDR two immediate thoughts come to mind. First and foremost what an amazing achievement it was to build a socialist state on the ruins of a fascistic superpower that was hell bent on destroying communism and its achievements thus far. The second thought is how did this beacon of light and such a progressive country ultimately manage to capitulate?

I will be looking at the initial creation and building of the GDR, the major difficulties it had to put up with, some of its outstanding achievements and the current state of east Germany.11044543_406774779489946_7759388990989695162_n11058116_406774782823279_116667682566776819_n

Throughout the course of its existence the GDR had to face great difficulties and was subject to the same kind of ridiculous but effective anti communist slander that the DPRK is now. Although the BRD saw a much more intensified version of this propaganda as it was on the front line of the cold war and still having a large portion of Nazis running the show, despising nothing more than the fact they had been defeated and lost part of “their country” to the communists.

A quick bit about the history In 1933 the ruling parties of Germany bury the bourgeoisie democratic Weimar Republic and hand the ruling power over to the Nazis. Without the Nazis there would have been no WW2, no Jewish holocaust and so no anti-Hitler coalition. Without the 30th January 1933 no 8th May 1945 – the day Hitler Germany capitulated and the entire country ended up being completely occupied by foreign troops. The future of Germany lay completely in the hands of the occupiers. This was the situation in 1945. In Potsdam that year the Main forces of the Anti Hitler coalition – the Soviet Union, USA, and Great Britain established the post war order. The ground work for the post war order had already taken place during the war. As we know, all efforts by the soviet union to form a collective security with England, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia had failed.

The Western allies were for the partitioning of Germany At a meeting for the big 3 (Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill) in Yalta, Roosevelt suggested to partition Germany into 5 parts and Churchill agreed. Stalin didn’t think it was necessary.

The Western Allies knew it was only a matter of time for them to continue their fight against communism. “Operation Sunrise” = secret Meetings in Switzerland that were attended by Allen W. Dulles head of the US Military intelligence “Office of Strategic Services”, SS Obergruppen fuhrer General Karl Wolff (in charge of SS and policing in Italy), Luigi Paririlli a business man with ties to the Vatican, and major Max Waibel an intelligence officer of the Swiss army. Here we

have the beginning of elements of the US intelligence service collaborating with Nazi representatives against the Soviet Union during WW2. This collaboration allowed the mass flight of German war criminals to the west and sped up the conflict between the western allies and the soviet Union and also fuelled the outbreak of the cold war that lasted longer than WW1 and WW2 together. Stalin also pointed out to Roosevelt that since the talks began three divisions from the north of Italy were able to take off and move to the eastern front. The Anti Hitler coalition broke up before the end of the war, it was the western allies that left the coalition.

The End Of WW2 On the 9th of May Stalin Declared: “Germany is utterly defeated. The German troops are surrendering. The Soviet Union is celebrating Victory, although it does not intend either to dismember or to destroy Germany.“

This is the line the Soviet Union pursued in Potsdam.  The capitalist western opinion was: better a partitioned Germany than a full communist Germany.  Adenauer said: “better have the whole half of Germany than half of the whole Germany”.  The Allies agreed at the February 1945 Yalta conference that while Germany would be partitioned into British, US and Soviet occupation zones, the defeated Germany would be administered jointly.  The Soviets were for a neutral disarmed democratic united Germany  In 1949, the informal division of Germany was formalized with the proclamation by the Western powers of a separate West German state, the FRG. The new state would be based on a constitution written by Washington and imposed on West Germans, without their ratification. (The GDR’s constitution, by contrast, was ratified by East Germans.) In 1954, West Germany was integrated into a new anti-Soviet military alliance, NATO, which in its objectives aped the earlier anti-Comintern pact of the Axis powers. The goal of the anti-Comintern pact was to oppose the Soviet Union and world communism. NATO, with a militarized West Germany, would take over from where the Axis left off. The GDR was founded in 1949, only after the Western powers created the FRG. The Soviets had no interest in transforming the Soviet occupation zone into a separate state and were against the Western powers’ division of Germany.

East Germany’s economic basis was historically weaker than the Western part of Germany. Whole industries had to be built from scratch To put the post war situation into perspective it is worth noting that what was to become the FGR was already the more Industrial part of the country Of the Industrial hubs of Germany 30% were in the eastern zone of which 45% had been destroyed during the war of the 70% of the western zone only 20% had been destroyed.  After the 2nd world war Germany was split into four zones which were occupied accordingly by the French, British, Americans and Soviets. The four occupied zones were economically heavily dependant on one another though the western zones did initially inherent more favourable conditions. The Soviet zone had the worst economical starting position. The main problem regarding the reproduction process of the industry was created through the disproportion of primary industry and the metallurgical industry. Amongst the raw materials needed coal was in primary position. 1936 saw what was to become the Soviet zone produce 26% of Germany’s steel and iron but only 5% of the raw materials needed for this production.

The main part of the textile industry was in the east, the mills for producing the primary material however were in the west. Although the east had some highly industrial areas with a large portion of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and the textile industry in 1938 only 1.9% hard coal, 4.3% iron ore, 4.3% pig-iron and 6.6% crude steel was produced there. This meant that the later to be GDR was existentially dependant on importing raw materials. There are more examples of manufacturing industries that were dependant on materials from western industries. Right into the 50’s lack of raw materials couldn’t be compensated by the socialist countries leaving the GDR still dependant on trade with FGR.  Trade between the two German states didn’t even reach 10% of it’s pre war average. In 1951 the high commissioners and the West German government forbid the already agreed upon deliveries of tin and other industrial products, hitting the economy hard.  (West Germany used the embargo as a tool to create difficulties in the east – it would loosen it and tighten it).

Another factor concerning the economic situation of east Germany were the war reparations to the Soviet union. During the first ten post war years the GDR rendered the compensation for the whole of Germany through the disablement of existing facilities from current Production. This also included a large amount of freight trains and factories. The East Germans felt it as their duty to pay this back. The Western allies were not interested in helping their now enemies.

The US Army stripped the East of its scientists, technicians and technical know-how, kidnapping “thousands of managers, engineers, and all sorts of experts, as well as the best scientists – the brains of Germany’s East – from their factories, universities, and homes in Saxony and Thuringia in order to put them to work to the advantage of the Americans in the Western zone – or simply to have them waste away there.”

In comparison West Germany contributed no compensation of it’s existing facilities but received huge credits – this was made possible through the marshal plan which was part of the US plan to revive Germany economically to ensure it would be available as a rich market capable of absorbing US exports and capital investment. The industrial financial superiority worked as a leverage in West Germany’s dirty fight against its socialist neighbour.

West Germany was being run by the same capitalists and Nazis in leading positions. Secret services etc.

The Industrial capitalists who financed Hitler, built and provided him with weapons etc. were able to restablish themselves in the west, in the vast majority of cases receiving no/very minor punishment for making the fascist onslaught possible. IG Farben, Siemens, Thyssen are some of them.

In East Germany all these industries were nationalised and in the hands of the people. The property of the war criminals and active Nazis was confiscated. The Banks, public transportation and industrial freight transportation, most of the industry and trade. An achievement worth mentioning here are the land reforms. Without compensation 6986 and 3280 properties were confiscated from Nazi leader and war criminals. All in all between 1945 and 1984 3.1 million hectares were confiscated. 2 million

hectares of these estates were handed over to 543.000 propertyless peasants.  The resettlers from Poland and Czechoslovakia were included in this.

1 Hectare = 107639.104 Square Feet

In the West people that had served time in concentration camps and jails and stuck to their ideology found themselves being imprisoned again if they were politically active. The judges that were sentencing communists and anarchists in the 50s and 60s were the same judges that had already served in Hitler’s Germany cleansing it from resistance and freedom fighters.

The BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) = Germany’s foreign intelligence service is a fine example of fascistic influence within the west German power structure. Reinhard Gehlen a former Wehrmacht senior foreign intelligence officer who was working on the eastern front continued working on this front for the BRD as head of the Gehlen organisation which later turned into the BND. The old colleagues looked after each other and the experience and information gained whilst working under Hitler once again came in handy for the continuation of the fight against communism. A great deal of the early recruiting was done by word of mouth and employee’s recommending their old war buddies. The record checking of new and potential employee’s was not thoroughly done till 1956 making it possible for employees who were still on the international wanted list to be working for the BND and ex POW’s often found employment with the ORG (Organisation Gehlen later BND) straight after being released. The BND was set up under American supervision and Gehlen played a key role in supplying the CIG and later the CIA on intelligence on the Soviet Union. This information was highly influential and contributed a great deal towards the anti communist hysteria of the cold war. The BND’s main task was to combat the influence and threat of communism . Their operations reached far beyond Germany. They were also very involved in combating the influence of communism in the North African and middle eastern liberation movements.

The wall. The threat of war.

At the beginning of 1961 the DDR was experiencing a financial crisis. West Germany had cancelled it’s trade agreement on the 31 Dec 1960. All deliveries of raw materials and semi-finished products were to be terminated. The BRD knew that it would be hitting the GDR in its weakest point and that it wasn’t possible to replace the lack of West German exports immediately (although the cancellation was later reinstated the damage was already done).

In comparison to recognized borders in Europe, the border between east and west Germany and Berlin was open and not secured. This was like an open wound for the GDR and its allies which the economically stronger FGR by every imaginable method exploited in an effort to eradicate socialism from German grounds. Currency speculators, border workers that worked in the west and benefited from socialist concessions, buying up and reselling rare technical consumer goods and subsidized food stuffs and a great number of spy and sabotage centres in West Berlin all exploited this weak point and were creating great difficulties for the new socialist country. West Berlin’s Oberbürgermeister (major) Ernst Reuter called it the  “cheapest nuclear bomb”. Another factor endangering the existence of East Germany was the stream of people including many skilled workers and costly educated engineers, scientists, doctors, etc who in large numbers were wooed away and abandoned their country. Most of the

East–West migrants were attracted to the higher salaries rather than supposed “freedom and democracy”.

They were economic refugees rather than political refugees.

Due to the 10 year period of carrying the reparation costs for the whole of Germany, having to build whole industries from scratch, still having to depend on the west for necessary industrial products and the west being given financial resuscitation through the US implemented marshal plan the two post West Germany was able to invest more and earlier into rebuilding its industry and achieve on average a higher standard of living and higher labour productivity. This difference was used to apply political pressure on the east. The development in West Germany was visible for everyone in the east and is the main reason that so many people (2 million) left in the space of 10 years. The better off the people in the West seemed to be the more tempting a new life in the west must have seemed. This would have been more tempting for trained professionals such as doctors etc. being tempted by the higher wages they would receive in the west. This emigration was not politically or ideologically influenced.  It was in search of a higher standard of living and it continues to this day – between 1990 and 2011 3 million people went from east to west Germany in search for a better standard of living. In order to pay for the import of food stuffs and raw materials the GDR was forced to export equipment it desperately needed itself. To keep the economy going in 1960 it increased the imports from capitalist countries by 30%. These imports weren’t enough and there was a serious lack of raw materials in 1960. On the other hand the imports from the USSR could only increase by 2%. There was a serious worry that without the help of the USSR the GDR would not be able to survive 1961. At a summit in Vienna Siena in June 61 Ulbricht once more proposed a peace treaty with west Germany and to make west Berlin a demilitarized free state. He also proposed a demilitarisation for the whole of the German territory. Adenauer rejected this offer as he didn’t recognise the partitioning of Germany which he saw as German territory occupied by Soviet forces. Ulbricht was striving for a reunification of Germany and believed that a peace treaty would be the quickest way to a confederation. On 25th July the West Germany defence secretary answered the peace treaty saying “the second world war isn’t over” and it wasn’t the first time he demanded to tactically equip Bundeswehr (German army) units with nuclear weapons at the border. This luckily didn’t happen.

Khrushchev was for a closed border with controls. Ulbricht said it wasn’t possible to build a wall all the way round west Berlin, he suggested wiring half of the border in order to prevent citizens from going to west Berlin without permission and to control the border train station and passages. On the 13th August 1961 Khrushchev announced in Moskau at a summit that comrade Ulbricht suggested to build a wall round West Berlin. Ulbricht however was adamant that he never suggested such a thing, but he felt in no position to confront this at the talk or for that matter in Moscow. So the initiative to build the wall was put forward by Khrushchev not by Ulbricht or Honecker as is often assumed.

The military build up towards the east

May 1945 Churchill’s plan was shared with the Americans

Operation Unthinkable was a code name of two related plans of a conflict between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Both were ordered by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1945 and developed by the British Armed Forces’ Joint Planning Staff at the end of World War II in Europe. The first of the two assumed a surprise attack on the Soviet forces stationed in Germany in order to “impose the will of the Western Allies” on the Soviets and force Joseph Stalin to honour the agreements in regards to the future of Central Europe. When the odds were judged “fanciful”, the original plan was abandoned. The code name was used instead for a defensive scenario, in which the British were to defend against a Soviet drive towards the North Sea and the Atlantic following the withdrawal of the American forces from the continent. The study became the first Cold War-era contingency plan for war with the Soviet Union. Both plans were highly secret at the time of their creation and it was not until 1998 that they were made public.

The printing of a new currency In 1947, without any notice to the Soviet zone or officials the US flooded the West zone with a new currency leading to the old currency flooding the Soviet Zone’s market. This led the Soviet zone to respond by blocking all land access to west Berlin. The western allies were forced to access and supply West Berlin and gave them an opportunity to create a huge wave of propaganda claiming that the Soviet intention was to starve West Berlin etc. Even though the four powers decided to seize the land blockade by the 5th of May 49 the western allies continued to use the air routes for supply for propaganda’s sake till 6th October 49. The propaganda generated from this was able to make the Russians out to be the villains and the disturbers of peace making the partitioning of Germany seem like a necessity.

Apparently, when planning the zones the Americans didn’t even know that west Berlin was in east Germany and no arrangements had been discussed on how they were to access this zone.

In 1950 NATO gave the green light for West Germany to re arm itself. Out of an alleged fear of a Soviet invasion West Germany decided to re arm itself 5 years after the war had ended. This invasion allegation was backed by nothing…. In 1952 Adenauer made an honorary speech praising the German soldiers who had fought in WW2.  The FGR also started drastically increasing its amount of Police force and was allowed to build and arm an army of 500,000 men. Most of the equipment they got was American. The west Germans that were protesting the remilitarization was dealt with harshly; thousands of communists and anti war activists were persecuted. The KPD (communist party of Germany) was banned.  The 131 Law was implemented. This basically reinstated Nazi culprits that had been dismissed from their positions by the allies. 5 years after the Nazi reign they had all doors open back up again. As opposed to this, the east instated a successful denazification campaign.  In the West all manner of positions many high up were riddled with Nazis. An example the Minister of defence Theodor Blank a first lieutenant of the Wehrmacht. The leading cadres in the organising and building of the armed forces of east gemany were experianced communists, freedom fighters, anti fashists, POW that stood for a democratic Germany.

In 58 Khrushev suggested demilitarizing east and west Berlin to calm the situation and to make west Berlin a free city even though it was in the eastern zone. The western European NATO countries reputed the offer claiming west Berlin was part of their protectorate and claimed the Soviets were threatening them. Bonn stated that they refused the establishment of West Berlin as a free City and refused to recognize the GDR.

A confederation of the 2 states suggested by Khrushev was also rejected. A confederation contradicted the strategic interests of the USA. 5 days after Bonn’s rejection Moscow offered a peace treaty and a summit that was to be attended by all 29 states of the Anti Hitler coalition. This was also rejected by West Germany.

The western powers suggested another meeting for the 4 anti Hitler Allies – at the time nothing to calm the situation resulted from it.

In 1960 Bruno Winzer Bundeswehr major fled to the GDR (from the FGR) and revealed at a press conference the west’s intentions and plans. He claimed that wishful dreaming had led to military plans that weren’t much different to the 3rd Reich’s. The premises for Germany’s leading role for the realisation of these plans had already been established.  The plans aims were…… 1. Poland, Czechoslovakia and the GDR would historically and culturally feel related to the west. The Warsaw pact is only a temporary solution. 2. These states have to be separated from each other, oppose each other and separately brought to oppose the USSR in order to weaken the East’s defences. 3. This solution could have military consequences. This means to crate conditions in which that would justify intervention.

Through uprisings new governments should be formed that would welcome support from NATO troops. All actions need to run as fast as possible so it becomes an accomplished fact for the Soviet Union and the rest of the World.

These plans confirmed what military intelligence had already gotten wind of.  The next manoeuvre of this plan was to go for Poland and through neutral Austria to Hungary.

Another army refugee from west Germany stated that all manoeuvres for this lightning speed attack were done under the assumption that nuclear missiles were being used.

During the summer of 1961 a small group of officials in the Pentagon and the White House had worked out a plan for a first strike that would virtually wipe out the Soviets’ nuclear arsenal, minimizing the chance of retaliation. The plan was concrete and highly detailed. It spelled out what flight paths the U.S. bombers should take, at what altitudes they should fly, and which targets they should hit with how many of what kinds of nuclear bombs. And it concluded that the mission was feasible—that there was a “fair probability” of success.  (http://www.theatlantic.com/)

There was evidence that NATO troops were being moved . As a response there was a build up of Soviet troops in east Germany and also near the eastern borders of Poland and Hungary. East Germany also increased its Armed forces.

On the 13th August 1961 The wall was built because of political, military and economic reasons.

The wall calmed the situation and most probably stopped a nuclear war

Kennedy “not a very nice solution, but . . . a hell of a lot better than a war.”

The propaganda lies that continue to this day The false claim that the border was impassable gets dispelled by facts in the 80’s for example an average of over 2 million East German citizens visited the west. Alone between 1. January and the 30 of June 1988 10.255 east German citizens emigrated to west Germany with permission from the GDR authorities – this included people of working age and children.

The state of things after the wall Treuhand, was the agency that privatized the East German enterprises, Volkseigene Betriebe (VEBs), owned as public property. Created by the Volkskammer on June 17, 1990, it oversaw the restructuring and selling of about 8500 state-owned companies with over four million employees. At that time it was the world’s largest industrial enterprise, controlling everything from steel works to film studios.  Everything that was owned by the people was privatised. The vast majority of this wealth went to the west or was destroyed. This social wealth worth 1.2 Billion DM that was created by the people out of the ruins of the WW2 fell into the hands of the Imperialists.

For example a highly efficient and highly modern sewing machine factory called Veritas was bought by an Indonesian investor who sold the stock off and took all the proceeds. The works then got handed over to a western sewing machine manufacturer that wasn’t interested in helping the competition and liquidated Veritas. Veritas was in a town called Wittenberg this town saw over 6000 jobs lost. In contrast to the population of 33000 in 1977 (highest) it halved by 2013 and has the same population it had 1900. This is just a tiny example. Millions of workers became victims of closed down plants and the  dismemberment of the agricultural cooperatives. Job loss on an industrial scale and all problems that accompany it plague east Germany today. Out of all the eastern European socialist countries east Germany has lost the largest portion of its industrial production. Economic growth in East Germany is miles away from the economic growth in West Germany. It has become another purchaser of West German production.

East Germany also had a wealth of culture to choose from, especially from the youth and it consistently increased spending in this area. After the annexation the majority of these cultural centres closed. Half of the cinemas closed, by 1992 alone 14.574 libraries closed. Theatre and most cultural centres that have survived struggle for their existence. State run publishing companies were privatized or destroyed. The mainstream information that people are exposed to is presented through western capitalist tinted glasses.

Today’s conditions have become a perfect breeding ground for criminality, violence, racism and fascism.

The border was secured in order to secure peace. Peace lasted for 28 years, as long as the wall stood. In 1993 German soldiers participated in “Operation Deny Flight” which was the monitoring of the no fly zone above ex Yugoslavia, in the summer 1800 German soldiers were sent to Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1999 the NATO including Germany conducted bombing raids in Yugoslavia . From Cambodia to Somalia and Rwanda, from Bosnia to Kosovo to East Timur, from the coast of Lebanon and the mountains in Afghanistan the German army is always participating. Not one GDR soldier (NVA) was ever set to participate in a war.

The difference in income between East and West is still serious with eastern rate wages behind the west. Pensions are also lower although this discriminating difference is due to even out by 2040 according to the federal governments calculation. East Germans are often criticised by West Germans for being ungrateful for the “reunification” when looking at what they have lost rather than trying to find something they gained it is easy to understand.

Here some of the losses: Full employment and no fear for workplaces, low rent and no homelessness, low prices for electricity, gas, water and sanitation, cheap long term leases for allotments and holly day homes; comprehensive support mechanisms for women, youths, Jung wedded couples and families with a lot of kids, free health care etc.


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