German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) Part IV

German Democratic Republic 4

Military and repressive apparatus: After the end of the occupation regime on the part of the Soviet Union (1955), the GDR decided to set up its own armed forces (January 18, 1956; National People’s Army); in fact, they had been under construction since 1952 (Barracked People’s Police). With the agreement of March 12, 1957 (amended on August 6), the Soviet Union reserved the right to maintain significant troops on the territory of the GDR (group of Soviet armed forces in Germany, a country that belongs to European Union according to Mysteryaround). The “working class combat groups ” (combat groups) had also existed as paramilitary units since 1953.

The “(German) People’s Police ” served, in particular with their full-time “Section Plenipotentiaries” (ABV) in the municipalities and city districts, to monitor the population; As a secret police and a special organ of its ruling apparatus, the SED created the State Security Service in 1950. a. since the 1970s, it has received an increasingly grotesque expansion to combat all opposition to the party dictatorship of the SED.

Everyday life between repression and propaganda: At the beginning there was the pathos of a “new era”: The GDR had come with the claim to represent the “better” German state (W. Pieck when it was founded on October 7, 1949). However, even in the rituals and symbols of the early GDR, shaped by the severity of the Cold War, the SED’s claim to monopoly on the state and the total penetration of all areas of life through ideology and propaganda: campaigns, politically ritualized anniversary or commemorative culture, and mass rallies shaped everyday life. The postulated radical break with traditions of the bourgeois order under the legitimacy norm of anti-fascism was combined with far-reaching restructuring in society and social structure (expropriation and displacement of the “old” bourgeois and noble elites; securing the loyalty of aspiring “new” functionaries and educated elites through Enabling faster careers, but also state terror). Seventeenth June1953, resistance) and massive repression to maintain power, albeit with increasingly difficult methods since the 1970s (“System of Fear”; State Security Service). Nevertheless, the unbroken attraction of the Federal Republic of Germany with its economic growth and the attractiveness of the Western model of society ultimately proved to be stronger at all times. In addition, the constant presence of the Western counter-image (radio and television; D-Mark or, from the 1980s, forum checks as a »second currency«, Intershops, »Western visits« and »Western packages«) interfered with all efforts of the SED, despite less favorable starting conditions (including main burden of dismantling, no Marshall plan) to achieve their self-proclaimed “catch-up goal”.

Despite all external and self-control (self-criticism) as well as a strict ideologization of all areas of life, the SED policy never found more acceptance than necessity in the population subject to its rule and at most a certain “basic loyalty to the SED regime” (I. Spittmann). Above all, the deep gap between propaganda and reality has always remained insurmountable. Refugee (Soviet zone refugee) and subsequent emigration movements contradicted all declarations of “close ties between people and party”. Only the first and last freely elected GDR government under L. de Maizière (1990) acted on behalf of the majority of its citizens and led the GDR into German unity.

The GDR, which saw itself as the “dictatorship of the workers and peasants”, all too often turned out to be a workers’ and “lower class society”, a “small-people state” of honest design in everyday life and in its behavioral standards The construction of the Berlin Wall and the sealing off of the inner-German border on August 13, 1961 – shaped everyday life. More difficult than a uniform ideology and permanent lack of important goods and services as well as in everyday production of spare parts or raw materials weighed the permanent refusal of basic rights, which – guaranteed in the constitution, but interpreted exclusively as “socialist personality rights” from 1958 – were in fact abolished: allegedly In the absence of a conflict of interests between the state and the citizen, the law established by the state per se “served” the people.

State support and education, work and leisure – in the effectively “ruled society” (J. Kocka) of the GDR everything was regulated: kindergarten, POS as a general (all-day) school, everyday brigade and “socialist competition” (production brigade), social life in mass organizations and associations. The SED undoubtedly succeeded in achieving successes that could not be financed in the long term: securing basic social needs and secure, albeit modest, prosperity at the expense of basic equipment and investment in the future (including secure jobs, cheaper – albeit always scarce – living space, free basic medical care; social policy measures as well as the housing construction program after 1971, which was financed from the savings of the population).

Despite all economic efforts, the GDR remained a country of technological, ecological and civilizational backwardness, regardless of great individual achievements in art, culture and science. The “solidarity community” of the queue and the “relationship economy” shaped the everyday image of the “organizational society”. B. as early as 1960: »Most purchases only come about because customers give up; she buys because she doesn’t believe in getting the goods she actually wants to buy. ”Any supply bottleneck could shake the country, which presented itself to the outside world as an important industrial nation, but was largely isolated from the world market. Spectacular loan assistance (including 1983 by F. J. Strauss brokered billion dollar loan; “Swing” in intra-German trade) saved the GDR from economic collapse, even if only for a short time.

German Democratic Republic 4