Working Class Protest in East Germany

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Working Class Protest in East Germany The troubles in East Germany in June 1953 reached a peak on June 17th, when there were mass demonstrations and a General Strike throughout the German Democratic Republic. (G.D.R.). There has been many reasons cited for these protests, but it is perhaps possible to bring them down into two categories. Firstly, the long-term causes. These include the raising of work quotas, and the subsequent reduction of worker income. As well as this was the program of collective farms in the countryside. Going further back than this, it is possible to cite the imposition of Stalinism as a long-term cause. As well as this there is the economic and social change in East Germany at the time. For the short term however, it would be useful to discuss the winter of 1952/53, during which there was a substantial economic crisis in East Germany. Perhaps added to this is the political crisis in East Germany at the time, which can be seen as a major cause of the working class unrest. After all of these factors are discussed, a conclusion will be reached as to the reasons for the working class protest. In his book, "The Two Germanies since 1945", Turner begins to describe the reasons for the unrest of June 1953 by looking at the role of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deuchtschland (SED) After the second party conference in July 1952. He says that the pressing for "austerity in the operation of government-owned plants and for establishment of work quotas…" led to a raising of quotas for the contracts in 1953, which ultimately led to a reduction of the workers incomes. He also makes mention of the showtrials which were introduced to cover for these large quotas not being reached. In typical Stalinist fa... ... middle of paper ... ...t of these causes, both long and shot term can be seen as the fault of the leadership of the GDR. Many of these mistakes were really inherent problems of Stalinism. Collectivisation always lead to decreased productivity. The five-year plans always made outrageous targets that were just not possible to reach with the resources available. Added to this was the changing role of the trade unions, which lead to disputes between the workers and the party as to what role they should play. All in all, the causes, when by themselves, while problems, but not major ones. When added together over time, they lead to demonstrations and a General Strike. Bibliography: Bibliography G.W.Snadford, From Hitler to Ulbricht H.A.Turner, The Two Germanies Since 1945 M. MacCauley, The German Democratic Republic Since 1945 W. Carr, A History Of Germany 1815-1990
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