top of page
  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

East Germany: 1949-90

It seems, with the benefit of hindsight, very strange to western eyes that in the Eastern half of Germany at the end of The Second World War one authoritarian regime, Nazism, should be replaced by another, Marxism. But such was the case, and under the leadership of Walter Ulbricht (1950-71) and Erich Honecker (1971-89) it remained an independent German state for four decades. 'Independent' is perhaps not the correct description to use in the case of East Germany, as it was the classic example of a Russian satellite state. It depended on its survival, even from its own internal dissent, by the threat and actual use of armed force readily available from Russia, as occurred in 1953.

To the average person in the street mention of East Germany brings pictures of Trabants, The Stasi, The Berlin Wall readily to mind. Katja Hoyer in her recently published book, 'Beyond the Wall', seeks to paint a more nuanced picture by pointing out positives such as sport for all, education standards, and even holidays for the workers. Hoyer writes in the Preface of her book, 'The citizens of the GDR lived, loved, worked and grew old. They went on holidays, made jokes about their politicians and raised their children. Their story deserves a place in the German narrative'. In some ways coming to terms with the East German State has proved more difficult than coming to terms with the shared Nazi past.

East Germany fell because its citizens finally rebelled, wanting some of the good things in life from washing machines to television programmes enjoyed in West Germany; and of course Freedom itself. Abandoned by a Russia where Gorbachev was not prepared to support Russia's satellite states, East Germany found itself hung out to dry. The end came swiftly when it did, but problems continue a quarter of a century on.

77 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Robert Peel Why in a short course devote a whole session to Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel? If his name is remembered today by the General Public it is for the introduction of a professional Police F

A Short General Booklist Short History of The Victorian Era G.Kerr High Minds S.Heffer The Victorians J.Paxman Victorious Century D.Cannadine England in The Age of Dicke

This is an introduction to my first lecture on Victorian Britain for Lockdown on 5th June. Queen Victoria You can't escape Victoria wherever you live in Britain or even the former Empire. She is ever

bottom of page