To what extent and in what ways did Communism transform the GDR?

Thursday 19th May am 1 hour
To what extent and in what ways did
Communism transform the GDR?
Constitution 1949
• Parliament Volkskammer, representative of
the people
• Upper House, Landerkammer, represented the
five regions of East Germany or Lander
• President Wihelm Pieck: head of state
• Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl: head of
Democratic Politics in the GDR?
• SED general secretary Walter Ulbricht.
• The Lander were abolished in 1952 and
replaced by smaller and more numerous units
the Bezirke
• Upper House abolished 1958
Changes in the GDR...
Life on the Land
• 1952: Collectivisation ‘land production
• LPGs: a collective farm often made up of
several previously independent farms now
joined together
• LPGs unpopular, many farmers fled to the
• Problems with food supply: contributed to
uprising 1953
Uprising 17th June 1953
• Causes: tightening of borders, collectivisation,
emphasis on enhanced productivity
• USSR was not happy with the developments in
the GDR
• June 1953 key SED leaders summoned to
Moscow and asked to make changes:
condition of workers would become worse,
they were to produce 10% more, but wages
the same
Uprising 17th June 1953
• Confusion: Different messages came out in the
Communist Party newspaper and Trade Union
• Construction on the building work in Berlin
halted 16th June, workers marched to House of
• One worker got to a loudspeaker and
announced a general strike for the following
day. News spread throughout the GDR
Aftermath of the Uprising
• Ulbricht got help from the USSR and the uprising was
crushed by Soviet tanks
• West Germany under Konrad Adenauer didn’t
• East Germans felt abandoned
• Workers won concessions
• Inadequacy of secret security service in noticing signs
of unrest
• Ulbricht criticised by party
• SED paranoid about views of the people and
determined to crush any signs of unrest
Land Reform
• Ambitious building program: 101,800 new
apartment houses were to be built between
1948 and 1950. In the end, however, only 39%
built in 1950.
• Agriculture did become more efficient
• Farmers well trained, becoming specialists in
crop or livestock production
• Collective farms treated as industrial factories,
a place of work rather than an inherited
• Relationship with USSR page 147
• What was the Warsaw Pact?
• What was the Comecon?

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