Blind in one eye

Legends about the division of Germany

The day on which East Germany’s accession (which in the old Federal Republic had long been a "matter of course") was officially celebrated is not causing a sensation these days "Central Germany" ) became part of the "Scope of the (West German) Basic Law" is celebrated.

German history, as it lay between 1945 and 1990, likes to be told in legendary terms, like this: In the West, soon after the end of the "Hitler dictatorship" The political and material fortune began, the Western victors extended their helping hand, the West Germans learned democracy, the economic miracle took place, everything became good. The East Germans did not have this opportunity, as the Russian Bolsheviks established a second "second dictatorship", the GDR state, with the help of German communist functionaries. And so, for forty years, injustice and misery reigned in one part of Germany. Until the peaceful revolution, the fall of communism in 1989/90 and reunification…

This interpretation has the advantage of being easy to understand, and it avoids the need to look more closely at historical events. If one does get involved in such an effort, irritating questions arise: Why did the West German state foundation precede the East German one in 1949?? What effect did the separate Wahrungsreform 1948 have on German policy in the western part of Germany? "Trizonesia"? In the first years after 1945, the USSR’s policy was to Sovietize East Germany (or even all of Germany)? Were there opportunities to avoid the division of occupied Germany into two states or (after 1949) to restore bi-statehood at an early stage??

Such considerations do not have to be made by those who follow a quite proper method in this subject: Everything that happened in East Germany after 1945 is considered as if there had been no political decisions and operations of the West acting on it. There were, however, highly consequential. The political development in Germany after the fall of the "Third Reich" took place interdependently between West and East and East and West, in actions and reactions on both sides, in the context of the anti-Hitler coalition breaking apart, then of the Cold War. In the beginning, the intentions of the occupying powers were dominant, but interest groups and politicians in German society also had a limited influence.

Gustav W. In 1951, Heinemann, the later German president, described the global political conditions of Germany’s policy at the time as follows:

The East wants to be sure that Germany will not fall into the balance of the West. The West wants to be sure that Germany does not fall into the balance of the East. Both want to be sure that Germany will not become an independent danger for them again.

Heinemann had left the Adenauer cabinet as CDU minister in 1950 because he disagreed with the project of West German rearmament, considering it divisive. When the USSR presented a plan in 1951 according to which the two German states could be rapidly reunited, with free elections, but on condition of bloc political neutrality, Heinemann advocated taking this proposal at its word, negotiating on it. The West German government refused. The seriousness of the so-called Stalin Note was not tested at all. This had its logic in the prevailing political concept of the early Federal Republic of Germany. It can be summed up in the formula: Better half a Germany whole than a whole Germany half.

In the West: Half a Germany whole

The political tone set in West Germany by the "Burgerblock" With Konrad Adenauer as chancellor from 1949, the West wanted an unbroken capitalist economy, the CDU’s Ahlen Program of 1947 had already been put on the scrap heap, and West Germany’s reemergence into the world market could best be achieved through the unconditional integration of part of Germany into the North Atlantic Alliance and its military structures.

All-German neutrality had stood in the way of these ambitions. The United States, Great Britain and, after some hesitation, France, too, could be satisfied with the integration of West Germany into the Western bloc; a "German Sonderweg" They no longer had to fear the close connection between art sponsoring, advertising and public relations, the part-German Federal Republic was useful to them as a geopolitical front country, and the General Treaty and the Paris Agreements (1952, 1954) also secured them reservation rights against West German policy in the future.

In East Germany – Communism?

The Soviet plans were different. In the early postwar period, they tried to find an all-German solution, not out of sentimental Germanophilia (where could this have come from, given the experiences of 1941-1945), but determined by understandable interests of their own.

For the USSR, German reparations were necessary to repair the economic damage of the war (the USA had no problem with this); these could be expected from the Soviet occupation zone only to a limited extent. This was one of the reasons why Soviet policy toward Germany adhered to the concept of four-power control over Germany agreed upon in Potsdam in 1945, even at a time when the U.S. and Great Britain had already taken the path toward the establishment of a West German state.

First of all, the USSR was by no means aiming at an East German state and its sovietization; the GDR was then, as historian Wilfried Loth has put it, "Stalin’s Unloved Child". The "anti-fascist democratic order", The "cancer policy", given by the Soviet occupying power as a guideline for German politicians in the East Zone, was not a propagandistic construct, it was supposed to shape all-German structures. The fact that the Soviets early on established a multiparty system in their territory of occupation was a sign of. Communism was not in the Soviet program for occupied Germany. Instead, across zones, denazification, demilitarization, socialization of large-scale enterprises and land reform were to change the social balance of power in such a way as to exclude a new German risk to the interests of the USSR; an all-German state to be reconstituted was to keep out of international geopolitical competition.

It is no longer possible to determine whether the Soviet leadership actually placed its hopes in this concept that it would be accepted in Germany by the "catching up with the bourgeois revolution" over the "antifascist-democratic order" to "Socialism as a Preliminary Stage of Communism" or whether such a slogan was intended only as a consolation for German communist functionaries. In any case, the founding of the GDR was anything but the fulfillment of a Bolshevik dream; rather, it was the first act in the failure of Soviet policy toward Germany. The historical course was set on the side of the West.

However, the Soviet occupation practice in the East Zone provided assistance beyond the plan of. Even before 1949, it had developed characteristics that could be attributed to the accusation of a "Bolshevization" gave food. In addition, German Communist cadres who had returned from Soviet exile pursued their specific group interests. Walter Ulbricht, for example, was not exactly eager to act as a representative of left-wing opposition in a neutral all-Germany.

The "Magnet Theory"

In the West German state the "Burger Block" establish itself firmly politically, the economic elite from the time before 1945 would again be secure in their power. Deterrent conditions in the GDR served to legitimize the Federal Republic’s partial statehood.

The "Danger from the East" This initially sidelined all movements critical of capitalism, but in the 1950s it prompted West German bourgeois politicians to make welfare-state concessions, a "social policy" and a "social policy" "Availability for communist agitation" was to be prevented. German reunification was imaginarily postponed into the future, the talk of the "Indivisible Germany" (within the confines of 1937) calmed nationally minded tempers.

Konrad Adenauer promised that a prospering Federal Republic would "magnetic effect" and thus German unity would be achieved. We do not know whether he really wanted reunification; he had no personal sympathies with the terrain east of the inner-German border. There was, however, a bit of realism in his prediction concerning the attractiveness of the West German standard of living. He only concealed the fact that the restoration of German state unity depended on consensus with the Soviet Union. This, in turn, gave the GDR a farewell when it itself fell into erosion and systemic change. The unloved German part-state became a burden to her in the process. Soviet tanks were not used against the turn of events. This revolution, if you want to call it that, was bloodless.

Four decades of East German debt service

The division of Germany lasted forty years. During this period, the burdens of the German Reich’s policies in Hitler’s era were disproportionately imposed on the citizens of the GDR, to the advantage of West Germany’s economic opportunities.

It is therefore not surprising that the elites in the economy and politics of the old Federal Republic by no means regarded the unification of Germany as indispensable and its restoration as a matter of urgency. The modalities of East German accession to the West German-formed state then gave them an extra bonus for their wait-and-see attitude.

The National Day 3. October has strange things in its history.

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