What continuities do you see in the soviet relationship

Brief 100933

What continuities do you see in the Soviet relationship with East Germany from 1945-1989?

East Germany was created as a consequence of the fortunes environing the licking of Nazi Germany and the oncoming of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States plus their several Alliess and satellite provinces. The post-war divider of Germany between the four powers decided at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences had merely meant to be impermanent, to forestall any revival of German military power. Germany was supposed to hold been reunited after the completion of de-Nazification and demilitarisation programmes. With the Cold War though the three zones controlled by Britain, France and the United States were merged to organize West Germany in 1949 with the Soviet Union duly reacting by turning its zone into East Germany subsequently that twelvemonth ( Bullock, 1991, p1026 ) . As will be discussed below assorted continuities could be observed in the relationship between the Soviet Union and East Germany in the 45 old ages between 1945 and 1989.

The first continuity that can be seen between the Soviet Union and East Germany was the prima function of the Communist Party in both states. Occupation by the Red Army meant that Stalin could enforce individual Communist Party regulation on East Germany as it was maintained in the Soviet Union. The Communist party ( KPD ) and the Social Democrats ( SPD ) in East Germany were merged to organize the SED or Socialist Unity Party that became the taking party if non the exclusive party in East Germany. Other parties were allowed but their independency from the government and their places within parliament were strictly nominal. The amalgamation between the KPD and SPD had occurred to guarantee the Communists could win elections prior to them taking over the authorities of the Soviet zone ( Fullbrook, 1991, p.136 ) . Walter Ulbrecht was a devoted Stalinist and was keen to toe the Moscow line. He became the SED leader who lief imposed the Stalinist version of Marxist-Leninism on East Germany. East Germany was counted, as one of the states of ‘really bing socialism’ or a Peoples democracy along with the Soviet Union’s other Central and East European satellites. Communist regulation was legitimised by claiming the taking function of the Communists would finally over take capitalist economy and provided socialist utopias ( Hobsbawm, 1994, p.373 ) . The authorities of East Germany were besides certain that the Red Army would assist to keep communist regulation at gunpoint if demands be. The Soviets believed that a Communist East Germany was in their best involvements, the SED government in bend looked to the Soviet Union ( Roberts, 1999, p.513 ) . The acceptance of communism in East Germany was meant to demo a greater interruption from Nazism than was the instance in West Germany as all those capitalist that had co-operated with the Nazis government lost their economic and political influence in the East. For the Soviets it would hold been unacceptable that East Germany could be allowed to be a capital broad democracy. Communism was the strongest cause of continuity between the Soviets and East Germany ( Pulzer, 1995, p.7 ) .

A continuity in the relationship between the Soviets and East Germany was the insisting that unless it came approximately on their footings Germany reunion would non go on at all. The Soviet Union saw the care of East Germany as critical to the success and continuation of the Warsaw Pact and its hegemony over Central and Eastern Europe. The opinion SED in East Germany realised that reunion on West Germany’s footings would take to East Germany being absorbed into West Germany and the really existent chance of their government being removed. When the Soviets did offer the opportunity of reunion it was on footings unacceptable to West Germany and her Alliess. Both the Soviet Union and the East German government saw the continuation of two German provinces better than the chance of a united Germany steadfastly in the Western cantonment.

At the council of Foreign Ministers in May 1949 held in Paris the four powers were non prepared to compromise to accomplish reunion ( Bullock, 1991, p.1034 ) . For every bit long as there was a Cold War the Soviet and East German governments needed each other. The division of Germany was allowed continue to keep the balance between the world powers. Equally shortly as the Soviet Union ended the Cold War it meant East Germany no longer had a feasible hereafter. For that meant that the Soviets were no longer prepared to utilize its armed forces to shore up up the difficult line East German government of Eric Honecker ( Hobsbawm, 1994, p.252 ) .

For much of the period 1945 to 1989 the Soviet Union’s relationship with East Germany was closely bound to the formal, military, political and economic links operated through the Warsaw Pact and COMECON ( the Council for Mutual Economic Aid ) . The Warsaw Pact was established during May 1955 in response to NATO leting West Germany to fall in it and re-arm. East Germany had its ain separate Soviet equipped armed forces by the terminal of 1956. The East German military complimented the Soviet forces already on East German dirt. Equally good as being used to counter the menace from NATO it was used for internal security responsibilities within East Germany. The East German ground forces was of import for the continuation of the Soviet-East German ground forces relationship as it supported the East German government and worked closely with the Soviet forces in East Germany ( Watson, 1997, p.89 ) . The East Berlin rebellion and unrest throughout the remainder of East Germany had been put down by the Soviets. The East Germans may hold taken over internal security responsibilities yet it and the East German government survived due to the presence of the Soviet’s forts and the warrant that they would be used to maintain the SED in power ( Watson, 1997, pp.170-71 ) . Added to this was the National People’s Army around 200,000 strong that tried to forestall its fellow Es Germans traversing the boundary line and subsequently the Berlin Wall into the West ( Fullbrook, 1991, p.180 ) . As the East German government was officially anti-Fascist and anti-capitalist it of course led to a continuation of the political, military and economic relationship with the Soviet Union, as it was the world’s most evidently anti-Fascist and anti-capitalist province ( Pulzer, 1995, p. 9 ) .

A farther continuation that can be seen in the relationship between the Soviet and East Germany was in the country of economic sciences. The Soviet Union had been driven by two purposes in East Germany, to derive economic reparations and to do the East German economic system a bid economic system. The Sovietss gained an estimated $ 30 billion from East Germany in the decennary after 1945. The economic system of the Soviet zone was good on the manner to being turn into a Stalinist manner bid economic system prior to the formal outgrowth on East Germany in 1949. Most private land estates and concerns were taken into province control on the evidences that they were owned by pro-Nazi’s landholders and industrialists. Private sector concerns and industries had already been forced, cajoled and taxed into going province controlled by 1955. The infliction of province controlled socialism was viewed as simple to the foundation and care of East Germany plus its relationship with the Soviet Union ( Fullbrook, 1991, p.154-55 ) . The Soviet Union had decided to incorporate East Germany economically with itself and the others people’s Republics of Central and Eastern Europe as portion of COMECON in 1952. Officially, COMECON would direct economic development and trade between its members until 1989 ( Fullbrook, 1991, p.179 ) .

Therefore, the continuities that can be seen in the Soviet relationship with East Germany included the taking function of the Communist Party in states, the CPSU and SED severally. Ultimately, the viability of the East German State was to a great extent dependent on the strength of the Soviet Union plus the continuation of both the Communist controls of the Soviet Union and the Cold War between the East and the West. East Germany was the frontline boundary line between East and West. It was therefore critical for Soviet involvements that its government was communist and pro-Soviet. Soviet military presence ensured that rebellions like those of 1953 would neglect. East Germany was re-armed to do the Warsaw Pact stronger and besides integrated into COMECON. The East German government had to keep strong links with the Soviet Union because without them it could non last. The flight of East Germans to West Germany was as large a menace as rebellion. The Berlin Wall for a clip stemmed the flow. The Soviets were happy to see East Germany use inhibitory steps as they used similar methods themselves. The Soviets instead than the East Germans in fact ended the continuities of the Soviet Union’s relationship with East Germany. It was the political reforms of Gorbachev that ended the Cold War and meant that the Soviet Union was no longer willing to enforce communism on any of the satellite provinces of cardinal and Eastern Europe. Once this happened the Honecker government was moribund and unable to forestall in-migration to West Germany and its ain replacing.


Fullbrook, M ( 1991 ) The Fontana History of Germany – Germany 1918-1990 the Divided Nation, Fontana, London

Hobsbawm, E ( 1994 ) Age of Extremes, the Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991, Michael Joseph, London

Watson, J ( 1997 ) Success in World History since 1945, John Murray, London

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