The German Democratic Republic (East Germany)

Germany was exceedingly affected by the Second World War, being leader and part of the defeated forces meant they had to follow the rules put in place for repairing Europe after their defeat. This included paying reparations, dividing its land between the allies and the Soviet Union. This meant in Germany as a whole as well as Berlin, now had been split into British/ French/American and Soviet regions.

-Germany 1947



-Berlin 1947



East Germany

The Soviet occupied part of Germany then became the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), which was fully under communist rule and ran by the communist government until 1990 when communism fell and Germany was reunified. East Germany was under the Socialist Unity Party led by Wilhelm Pieck, with Otto Grotewohl as prime minister. Though Grotewohl was against illegal arrests, and wanted more respect for the East German’s civil rights he seemed to not want East Germany to answer to its mistakes after the Second World War.  West Germany was the legal successor of the Third Reich, meaning they now had the responsibility of paying reparations and take any other actions the world saw fit. East Germany chose to denounce its Nazi past, declare itself as a socialist state, refused to acknowledgement of the existence of anti-Semitism and Israel and therefore refused to pay the Holocaust victims. Though they did have to pay war reparations to the USSR. Though East Germany considered themselves a completely separate state from West Germany Stalin wanted to reunify Germany, Western allies refused this proposal.

Television and radio in East Germany were controlled by the state, though many artists returned from exile after world war two many of them left again after increasing levels of censorship. Foreign films were also shown in cinemas, though only few as it was expensive to buy the licenses and they had to be suitable in not glorifying capitalism.


On June 16th 1953 construction workers working on the Stalinallee boulevard in East Berlin went on a strike because of a 10% production quota increase and them being informed that their salaries would be affected if this quota was not met. The demonstrations began small but soon the participant numbers rose including the general public both in East Berlin as well as in other places in East Germany. By June 17th more than a million people rioted across towns and cities, the government feared an anti-communist revolution so called upon the Soviet Occupation Forces and tanks to help the People’s Police (Volkspolizei) control the situation. 10,000 people were arrested and fifty people killed.



Berlin wall

Many people did not like living under Soviet communist suppression, the majority of these people were young well educated citizens. This meant if they managed to cross into West Germany, East Germany would have less and less intellectuals and therefore be weaker economically. This led to the 1961 creation of the Berlin Wall, a wall separating West and East Berlin meaning neither sides could cross over. Before its creation approximately 3.5 million East Germans defected to West Berlin, leading them to West Germany or any other country. The wall had armed guard towers that could shoot down any person trying to cross, they also contained anti-vehicle trenches and many other defences. The wall existed from 1961 to 1989, in those years approximately 5,000 people tried to cross over of those it is said more than 600 people were killed.


After a peaceful revolt in 1989 the Berlin Wall was destroyed and communism fell in East Germany, democratisation and reunification was the countries aim and on the 3rd of October 1990 the German Democratic Republic was dissolved and Germany was reunified.

Though there was initial joy after the reunification, this quickly died down as popular opinion in West Germany was that they had won. This led to resentments on both sides, the East Germans resented the wealthy West Germans and the West resented the opportunist East Germans. With the closure of factories and increase of unemployment, many East Germans experienced “Ostalgie” the term coined and seen in media portrayals such as Goodbye Lenin! By Wolfgang Becker. This meant nostalgia for the east (Ost).



Mwen Fikirini


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