** war and social upheaval: The Cold War country trends Germany

The Cold War: Country Trends--Germany

Figure 1.--Communist propaganda emphazized peace. Notice the doves that the children are carrying in this East Berlin May Day Parade during 1955. Many West Europeans bought the message. The problem was that while promoting peace caused many Western Europeans to oppose military spending, the Soviets persued a massive military buildup. They also seemed more more than willing to disregard massive violations of human rights.

The Cold War was to be won or lost in Germany. Although newspapers headlines followed dramatic events as they occupied around the world, it was in Germany that the outcome of the Cold War was determined. The country was even with deminished borders the powerhouse of Europe. The Red Army and Stalin's ruthlessness as the Soviets over ran Germany territory in 1945 settled the matter in the minds of most Germans. The question became moreone of whether America had the determination to support the Germans in the face of the Soviet threat. The Western Allied in 1949 began to allow the Federal Republic of German to administer the Western occupation zones and formally ended ocupation in 1955. The larger and more important economy allowed the FRG to dominate the East German Democratic Republic (DDR). The FRG worked to prevent other countries recognizing the DDR which was effctive through the 1960s. It also meant that the West Germans lost opportunities to pursue potentially beneficial commercial opportunities in Eastrn Europe and the Soviet Union. [Gray] This did not change until Arab countries began recognizing the DDR in the 1970s. By that time, Willy Brandt in the 1960s began his Ostpolitik, to build realtions with Eastern Europe and the United States.

World War II Aftermath (1945)

The United States along with Britain and France Japan oversaw an occupation with changed the nature of West German society. Most Germans readily admitted their country's responsibility for the War and ther honredous acts of the NAZI regime. The Allies instituted a thorough going denazification process, a process which continues to this day in Germany. The Allies also attacked the militarism of the old Prussian junker class which the united German state was built around in 1870. The Allies completely dismantled the NAZI regime and instituted a thorogh program od De-Nazificatioin. The Allies during military occupation reconstructed an entirely new political structure.

Soviet Occupation Policies

Germany unlike Japan was also occupied by the Soviet Union. The Soviet sector was eastern Germany. The Soviet occupation policies in eastern Germany were very different than those persued in the wetern occupation zone. Austria was separated from Germany after the War and occupied by the Soviets and Western Allies. The initial arival of the Red Army was casterophic. There was widespread rapes and if the men in the family attempted to protect the women they were shot. Family valuables were carted off. After the initial violence, the situation calmed dowm. The Soviets dismantled whole factories and transported them east as war preparations. Subsequently trade agreements betweem the Soviets and East German authorities were highly favirble to the Soviets. Even so, East Germany became the most productive part of the Soviet empire. Soviet military forces were permanently garisoned in East Germany. Propaganda showed the Soviet soldiers as being warmly received by the German people. The Germans actually avoided the Russians as much as possible. My understanding is that the Red Aemy soldiers were ordered not to fraternize with the Germans, but here we need more information. Stalin thought that Soviet soldiers would be contaminated politically by contact with the Germans, even East Germans. The NKVD established a police state and helped the Germans set up their own secret police. Concentration camps were opened for recalcitrant Germans. The Soviets after the Cold War developed threatened to turn over authirity to a new East German state which would render the joint occupation agreements invalid.


Non-German historians since World war II have given little attention to German beyond a continuing focus on the dramatic events of the NAZI era. Much less examined is the less dramatic but utlimately more important and equally rapid transition of Germany into a modern parlimentarian democracy, the kind of democracy that linerals had dreamed of in 1848. In some ways the process was simplified by the NAZIs who although opposed to democracy had gone a great way toward the breaking down of class barriers and weakening the power of the Prussian junkers. The Germans were not without a tradition of democracy and parlimentary politics. Hermany was until Weimar, however, an essentially authoritarian state and even during Weimar, German chancellors were forced to givern by emergency decree. Given the NAZIs success in dominating the German people and the thorouness of that domination, it seems perhaps surprising how readily the Germans adopted democracy. Perhaps the totality of the NAZI defeat and the spector of Soviet totalitarianism looming accross the border were major factors. What ever the reasons, the German took to political democracy and free-market economics. The results by all practical measures have been an overwealming success. Germany today is one of the most prosperous and democratic societies in the world.

Western Occupation Zones

Marshall Plan (1948)

World War II had left Europe devastated. A staggering 40 million people were killed in World War II. German cities had been levelled by the Allied strategic bombing. Fighting on the Eastern Front had also destroyed cities in Russia and Eastern Europe. The economies were prostrate. Jobs did not exist and capital was scarce to revitalise the economies. The performance of the Communists in the Resistance had increased their prestige. The desperate economic conditions also increased support for the Communists. After the War, the Communists were one of the largest political parties throughout Western Europe, especially in France and Italy. Only in Germany where people feared the Russians did the Communists not build an electoral threat. In an effort to promote economic recovery, the United States implemented the Marshall Plan. (It was not called the Truman Plan because that would have doomed it in the Republican controlled American Congress.) The Plan was proposed by American Secretary of State George C. Marshall in 1947. Eventually over $12 billion (in 1948 dollars) was provided. This assistance is generally credited with helping to launch the European economic recovery. Some authors down play the importance of the Marshall Plan, maintaining that the recovery was already well underway. [Hitchcock] Marshall Plan assistance was offered to Russia and the Eastern European satellites. Stalin, suspicious of American intentions, rejected the offer and speeded the establishment of Stalinist regimes throughout Eastern Europe. [Hitchcock]

Berlin Air Lift (1948-49)

A relationship with America was forged in the Berlin Airlift (1948) and four decades of resistance to the Soviers and Warsaw pact. Berlin was at the center if the Cold War. Many believe that the Cold War began and ended in Berlin. The beginning would be the Soviet efforts to push the Western Allies out of Berlin. The end was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Berlin was conquered by the Red Army in savage fighting during the end of April 1945. Stalin was itent on the Red Army taking the prize and lied to General Eisenhower about his intentions. Wehrmacht commanders west of Berlin could not understand why the Americand did not push for Berlin. When the Red Army approached his bunker, Hitler committed suicide. As decided at the Yalta Conference, the three principal Western Allies (Britain, France, and the United States) were given occupation zones in the conquered NAZI capital. As Berlin was located well within the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, all supplies had to pass through the Soviet zone. As a result, the Western allies and the Berlin people were vulnerable to Soviet pressure. This and the symbolic value of Berlin made it the focal point of the Cold War. It was at Berlin that the first major confrontation of the Cold War occurred. Stalin decided in 1948 that he could blockade Berlin and force the Western allies out and the people of West Berlin into submission. Ironically the people of West Berlin were saved by American and British pilots, in most cases the same men that only 3 years earlier had been bombing German cities and had reduced Berlin to ruble. President Truman was determined that the United States would not leave Berlin and a massive airlift was organized and even during the winter, more supploes were reaching Berlin than before tht Soviets had instituted the blockade. One of the pilots was struck by the Berlin children who still lived in desperate conditions after the War. The children of course had little idea of the larger issues involved, but were caught up in the episode when one of the pilots began dropping chocolates in little parachutes when he reached Berlin. Other pilots began doing the same. The Berlin children began calling him Uncle Chocolate and thousands wrote with directions as to how to how the American pilots could hit their homes! Finally with the success of the Airlift, Stalin relented and rail and road links were reopened in 1949.

German Political Mileu

The Cold War began in Germany with Soviet and the Western Allis disagreeing ovr Berlin and occpation policies. Whike the Soviets and Americans cinfronted each other, the key factor on how this would be resolved is how the German people would assess the two systems that were now occupying their countries. Here the Soviets and East German Communists assumed that the scientific superiority of Communim would enable them to emerge successful in any economic competition because Comminism would create a worker's paradise. It had bot occurred in the Soviet Union, but Siviet propaganda had effectively covered that up. And while they were syre that a worker's paradisewould emerge, the Communists were not prepared to have an open discussin on the matter. Agter all, why permit discussion when the truth had already been scientufically determined. The Soviets and East German Communisrs controlled the press ant set up concentration camps for those who questioned Communism. This could be justified morally because as the Communists possessed the truth, those who opposed them were misguided or evil malfectors. It should not be thought that Communism was something introduced into Germany by the Soviets and that there were no Communists in Germany prepared to accept the new system. Germany before Hitler had Europe's largest Communist Party outside the Soviet Union and before World War I it was much larger that the Russians. In fact the fear of a Communist take over wa very real and a major reason for the rise of the NAZIs. And there were substantailm elements in the NAZI Party that shared ideas with the Communits. They were especially pronounced in the SA. And the largest political party during most of the Weimar Republic was the Socialists--the SPD. They also shared many belief with the Communists. Thus Stalin had the opportunity to convert Germany to Communism. And after the War, economic conditions in Geramny were dreadfull, similar in both the Soviet and Western occupations zones. Why the Soviet failed is an interesting topic. It bgan in the closing days of World War II. Stalin turned the Red Army lose on German women. Millions of German women were raped. Germans were not allowed to lock their doors. Gangs of Red Army soldiers burst into German homes demanding 'Frauen'. Any resistance meant death. Thus at the outset the Germans had the concept of the Rusians laid by NAZI propaganda confirmed. This only lasted a short period, but it was a traumatic vent. And German in the Western zones learbed about it. The Soviets also demanded reparations. Factories in their occupation zones were dismantled and shipped back to Germany. Thus Stalin undermined the economic vialbility of East Germany from the beginning. Th NKVD set up a police state dening basic civil rights and trained the Stasi to do to the same. We are not entirely sure just how important this was. Economic developments may have been more important. But even before najor economic differences developed, the Berlin and German response to Soviet efforts to seize Berlin (1948), that economics was not the ebtire story. The East German Communists began nationalizing property. And certian goups of the population were sanctioned, such as aristocrats, landowners, and businessmen. This was a minority of the population, but they began moving to the Western zones at an early point. At first this was realtively easy. As far as we know, relatively few Germans moved from the Western zones to the Soviet Zone. Than the United States launched the Marshall Plan and supported the Currency Reforms that set the German Economic Miracle in motion (1948). From this point on, the Germans who were free to do so, cast their lot with the Western Allies, democracy, and free market capitalism. And to the shock of the Soviets and East German Communists, free market capitalism proved more efficent and productive than a Communist state planned ceconomy. They had difficulty understanding what was occurrubg before their eyes on te other side of the Iron Curtain. The Soviets were able to keep this develoment from their own people. The East Germans found this difficult because their people could tune into West German radio and by the 1950s, television. And the first people to rise up were workers, the same people who has supported the Communists before the NAZIs and that East Germans saw as the rock bed of Communism.

West Germany/German Federal Republic (1949-90)

West Germany is coloquial English term for the (Bundesrepublik Deutschland (German Federal Republic--BRD) in the period post-World War II/Cold War era in which Germany was divided between East and West between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. The BRD came into existence with the first free elections in Germany since the NAZI seizure of power (1949). The BRD was about two-thirds of what remnained of Germany after World War II. Areas to the east of the Oder-Nessie Line were transferred to Poland and the Soviet Union and the erhnic German population expelled. Throughout the Cold War, the BRD was aligned with NATO and Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany--DDR) with the Soviet-backed Warsaw Pact. The two Germanies were divided by an Inner German border, some of it along the Elbe River. The two Germanies were separated by this 866 mile (1,393 kilometre) by this internal border for more than 40 years. The DDR proceeded to harden the border making it the most deadly, inpassable border ever constructed. It began with barbed wire, but as many East Germans wanted to escape the Communist police states it was hardened with steel and cincrete, land mines, motion activated automatic firing aparatuses, police dogs, watch towers, search lights, and much more to prevent any crossing. All the ingenuity of East German Coimmunists were used to create a horific death trap. It was the Berlin Wall writ large. Communists around the world did not seemed bothered as to why a worker's paradise needed such an horific construction to keep their people in. The BRD was established from eleven states formed from the three Western Allied occupation zones (United States, the United Kingdom and France). American and British forces remained in the country throughout the Cold War, including the period followung the end of World II occupation. The population grew from roughly 51 million (1950 to more than 63 million (1990). The city of Bonn was designated the provisional capital. All Germans coninued to see Berlin as the capitl, but as West Berlin was surrounded by the Soviets, the BRD decided on Bonn. The 1949 constitution created a federal system that invests significant authority to the constituent Länder (states). Before unification there were 11 West German Länder (including West Berlin, which had the special status of a Land without voting rights). Unification added 5 eastern Länder in the unified republic. The largest of the states is Bavaria (Bayern), the richest is Baden-Württemberg, and the most populous is North Rhine–Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen). The BRD first chancellor was Konrad Adenauer, the pre-NAZI mayor of Cologne (Köln). The NAZIs removed him and he spent time in and out of prison and concentration camps. Adenauer helped found the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The other major party was the Socual Democratic Party (SDP). This was the major party before the War. Adenauer's CDU was a new party replacing more conservative parties like the pre-War Catholic Center Party. The Western Allies, in sharp contrast to the Soviets, reinstituted free elections. The revived Budestag chose him to be the BRD's first chancellor, by one vote (1949). He was a strong believer in democracy and heloped to create the modern Germany that is a model democracy and stalwart for civil rights. Adenauer supported the policies developed by Ludwig Erhard who had been chosen by the Americans to the Economic Council for the joint Anglo-U.S. occupation zone (1947). The result was the German Economic Miracle. As chancellor, Adenauer worked tirelessly to atrengthen both ties with the United States as well as to develop a new relatiinship with France leading to European unification and the modern European Union. This would set Germany foreign policy that continues today.

East Berlin Worker Riots (1953)

The working class in Germany before the NAZIs had been heavily politicied by left-wing politicians. Thus many workers in the Soviet occupation zone were willing to give socilism a chance. Many would have acceoted Communist political control if they delivered on material benefits. Many in the Party believed that they would be able to unleased the productive engine of socialism. By the early-1950s, it ws clear tht this ws not happening. And it is notable ghat the first real opposition to the Communists camed from workers in whose named they claimec to govern. The 1953 East German worker uprising was the first in a series of violent uprisings that would periodically rock the Soviet Eastern European empire. Workers in the German Democratic Republic (DDR) began protesting working conditions conditions (June 17, 1953). Factory managers imposed unreasonable production set by DDR authorities quotas on (June 17). he uprising began as a demonstration against those quotas, but quickly spread to over 400 cities, towns, and villages throughout the DDR. The resulting riots threatened the very existence of the Communist East German regime. The spontaneous outburst shocked the leadership of of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) as well as their Soviet masters. This was not how workers were expected to behazve in a Socialist workers paradise. The riots occurred only 3 months after Stalin's death and the Soviet empire was still in a state of turmoil adjusting to a new political reality without Stalin. It was East German workers which set off the event, but it wsas soon embraced by a wide cross-section of East vGerman +society. And as it developed, the demonstators began expressing concerns far beyond factory quotas. The movement began to express a much wiudec range of political and social issues--including free elections. This of course was anethma to the the SED and the Soviets. And most shocking of all was when chants began to appeat like “Death to Communism” and “Long live Eisenhower!” One historians writes in his introduction, for the first time ever “the ‘proletariat’ had risen against the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.” [Ostermann] This was a critical turning pont in the Cold war. Living conditions and political oppression in the Soviet Union could be hidden from Western Communists and the freedom and affluence of the West could be hidden from the Soviet people. But Germany was different. East Germans could listen to West German radio and television at a time when the German Economic Miracle was taking hold. Some observers believe that the commercials may have been more influential than the programming. It was this in divided Germany that the stark dispsaities between East and West became starkly apparent The worker protests quickly turned violent. At the time as the workes were quickly supressed, the riots were nmot seen as particularly important. Some historians now believe that the impact of the riots were more significant than believed at the time. The confidence of the SED leadership including Walter Ulbricht.was badly shaken. The East German workers were brutally suppressed. The Soviets while shocked, reacted immediately by sending tanks into the streets and ordering Red Army troops to fire on the demonstratirs. At vthe time, the Soviet leadership was involved in a struggle for power following Stalin's death. The arrest of KGB Director Lavrentii Beria has been explained on his attitude toward Germany, although obviously other more practical matters were involved, namely the fear of other Politburo members for their saftey. Similar reactions occurred at different times in the Soviet satellite states: Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), Poland (1970, 1976, 1980)

German Economic Miracle

German cities and the country's industrial plant was destroyed in World War II. Most of the damage was die by the Allied strastegic bombing campaign, largely at the end of the War (1944-45). Many German cities were quite literaly piles of rubbel by the time the War ended. Many thought that it would take a generation for Germny to recover. The German Economic Miracle in the West began with the Marshall Plan (1948). Both American aid and the beginning steps in European integration were important factors. The major factor was that while the physical plant of German industry had been destroyed, the technological capability and skills of German workers and technicians were still in tact. The German Economic Miracle was fully underway by the 1950s. Conditions were tight, but improving rapidkly in the early 50s. One outcome of the destruction of old plants was that by the end of the decade, Germny had the most modern industrial plant in Europe. And workers were receiving higher wages than ever before. Parents at last had some disposable income in the 1950s. Most spent frugally, but at last they were able to afford the basics. There was a trenendous renewal of economic conditions during the 1950s. Germany by the late 50s had returned to prosperous economic condditions, at least in the west. Families were earning good incomes and expenditures for food and clothing increased substantially. Mothers could once again begin to exercize their interest in fashion. Despite the fact that the German industrial plant was destroyed, the recovery in German took place faster than in Britain.

European Union

East Germany (DDR)

The German Economic Miracle underway in West Germany proved an increasing embarassment for East Germany. Rather than a worker's paradise, East German workers increasingly envied the rising living standards in West Germany. This proved to be more than an embarassment. Professionals and skilled workers fleeing to the West through Berlin and the still relatively porous border was a significant economic loss to the East German regime. East German leaders pleaded with Soviet authorities to take action. Thus in the Cold War Berlin became the hot spot of the Cold War. The ome place where American and Soviet tanks were mussle to mussle. It was especially dangerous because the Western position was so exposed because West Berlin was surronded by East Germany. The Soviets threatened to sign a peace treaty with East Germany which would undemine the World War II agreements which guaranteed the Western control of West Berlin. The action ultimately would be a massive wall to effectively imprison Germans in East Germany.

Occupation Children

Large numbers of foreign troops since World War II have been stationed in Germany. The Soviets occupied eastern Germany. The Western Allies (America, britain, and France) occupied western Germany. And the foreign militaries were not just present during the occupation. Even after German soverignity was restored, the foreign militaries remained. Germany was on the dividing line between East and West in the Cold War. The roles of the Soviets and Western Allies varied. The Soviets were in the DDR not only as a Warsaw Pact force to defend the borders, but to ensure the survival of the Communist regime which had little popular support. The Western Allies remaind in the DFR at the request of a freely elected democratic gvernment. What ever the reasons, large numbdrs of foreign troops remained in Germany for several decades after World War II. The inevitable result was a substantial number of children fathered by the foreign troops. We believe that the vast proportion of these children were born in the first decade of the occupation (1945-55), but we have little data to substantiate this. The number of children involved is substantial, almost certainly exceeding 100,000 but we do not have precice data

Berlin (1950s)

Berlin throughout the Cold War continued to be a very dangerous place. It was there Soviet and American tanks faced each other. It was notable hotbed for spies. The most famous example was a tunnel American and British agents dug into East Berlin to tap the telephone trunk line to Moscow. Apparently the Soviets knew about it because they had pnetrated MI-6. [Stafford] Berlin was also an increasing embarassment for the Soviets as the economic affluemnce of the West became increasingly conspicious in comparion to the poor conditions in the East. In addition, the ease of crossing into West Berlin was adversely impacting the East German economy.

Berlin Wall (1961)

The most visible aspect of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall - the Wall the Communists built between East and West Germany. Until 1961, East Berliners and other East Germans could take a subway car to flee to West Berlin and on to West Germany. The number of East Germans fleeing to the West was an embarrassment to the Communists who after all claimed to be creating workers' paradises. The glaring differences between the vibrant economic life of Berlin and the gray, drudgery of a Communist People's Republic was particularly apparent. The number of trained professionals in particular threatened the economy of East Germany. The Wall changed this. It did stop the flow of people West, although heart rending sights of small numbers of people braving the increasingly lethal dangers of the Wall moved West Germans. President Kennedy visited Berlin in 1962 to demonstrate American resolve in this vulnerable outpost of freedom. He told Berliners. "There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin. Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us." The Wall effectively separated Germans for nearly 30 years. Once completed only small numbers succeeded in crossing it. Many died in the process.

Willie Brandt: Ost Politik (1970s)

Willie Brandt first became known internationally as mayor of West Berlin (1957). He initiated what he became best known for--his Ost Politik, openings to the East. Brandt by 1961 was the leading figure in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) which was the German Socialist party. A West Berlin mayor, he was disappointed that the Western Allies didn't respond more vigorously to the Wall the East Germans errected. He was with President Kennedy when the President gave the "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech and was concerned that the crowd reaction might result in an incident at the Wall. He was elected chancellor (1969) and he retained this office in the subsequent general election (1972). He worked toward relaxing the tension between Eastern and Western Europe. His policy led to the signing of non-aggression pacts between West Germany and both the Soviet Union (19??) and Poland (1970). He continued pushing for openings to the East--not matter how small and according to critics no matter the cost. Brandt resigned assuming responsibility for the infiltration of an East German secret agent who was working on his staff (1974). Brandt was awarded Nobel Peace Prize (1971) for his contribution to the relaxation of tension between Western and Eastern Europe (so-called détente or Entspannungspolitik). What Ost Politik did not do was to change the oppressive character of the DDR or questiion the right of the Soiviet Union to maintain the division of Germany or its empire in Eastern Europe. The Wall not only remained firmly in place, but DDR officials diligently worked to strengrhen it all throught the era of Ost Politik. Fefusing the military tension along the Iron Curtin was an important achievenment, but there is npel evidence to suggest that the economic concessions only strengthened the East German regime. Thecfundamental flaw of Ost Politik was it assumed thsat the Cold War tensions were equally caused by the Soviet Union and Western Allies while from the beginning the Cold war was begun by the Soviet Union and continued by imposing police states on the people of Eastern Europe, including East Germany.

The Politics of Disaramament (1980s)

The United States through NATO deployed the Pershing Intermediate Range Missiles IRMs) in West Germany during the 1970s and 80s. The deployment was controversial. Some Europeans believed that the American nuclear shield over West Germany was a bluff and that America would never endanger its own cities by resonding to a Soviet invasion of Western Europe with a nuclear response. While some Europeans felt safer with the Pershing IRMs deployed in Europe, others did not. As fear of the Soviets subsided in the 1970s and 80s, many Europeans began to fear nuclear weapons more than a Soviet invasion. Ban the Bomb protests began to attract rising support, especially among the younger generation with no memory of the Soviet threat following World War II. The Soviets and the Western Communist Parties influenced by Moscow strongly supported this movement. The Communist goal was Western disarmament--not global disarmament. Thgey wanted Western arms reductions, not mutual reductions. There were disarmament marches in Eastern Europe, but their demands were for the West to sisarm, not the Soviet Union. America and its NATO allies followed a steady Soviet nuclear buildup. During the height of the Ban the Bomb movement in Western Europe, the Sioviets deployed a new generation of mobile SS-20 missiles. This was an especially provocative step as their mobility made them difficult to detect and monitor, increasing the potential danger of a Soviet first strike. The United States and NATO in response bregan replacing the Pershing 1A with the next generation Pershing II in Germany. The response was wide-spread public opposition throughout Europe, including some of the largest and most volitile Ban the Bomb demonstratioins throughout Europe. President Reagan and Chancellor Kohl were villified by the protestors who ignored the Soviet SS-20s. This proved, however, to be the beginning of the end of the nuclear arms race. Not because of the Ban the Bomb movement, but because Reagan and Kohl stood up to the protestors. The Soviet SS-20 deployment had been costly. Largely unknown at the time was extent of the Soviet economic problems. Thus despite the substantial cost of the SS-20 deployment, the only result for the Sovirts was having to face a new generation of American missles--putting more Soviet cities in danger than had been the case earlier. Soviet leaders finally concluded that further development of nuclear weapons to achieve superority ober the West was fruitless and self-defeating. Thus the Pershing II deployment brfought the Soviets to the table. After the Pershing II deployment, Soviet negotiators began to talk seriously about real reductions in nuclear weapons.

Economic Stagnation

Fall of Communism (1989-91)

The Cold War for all practical purposes ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the Communist satellite governments in Eastern Europe. It all occurred with unbelieveable speed in 1989. Most Europeans believed that Soviet control of Wastern Europe, especially East Germany, would last for decades probably becoming permanent. The process began in Poland where the Soviets had neither supressed Polish nationalism or the Cathiolic Church. Poland was the largest of the satellite countries and had a long border with East Germany. Poland would be the country which sparked the end of communism in central and eastern Europe and the Solidarność (Solidarity) movement was behind it. Solidarność was a worker movement led by Lech Wałęsa. It was founded after a wave of worker strikes (1980). This began after a 10 year struggle ended the Communist regieme in Poland. The people of Estern Europe might have acceopted the denial of city liberties if the Communists had delivered prosperity. But the infefficiencies of Socialist economics meant that they could not and this first bubbled to the surface in Poland where the Catholic Church had resisted the Communists from the beginning. In Poland the historic Round Table Agreement was signed legalising Solidarity and setting up partly free parliamentary elections (April 4, 1989). The victory of Solidarity would surpass all predictions. That was the proverbial hole in the dike because Soviet General Secretary Gorbechev did not order in the Red Army as earlier Soviet leaders had done. The Berlin Wall still stood and Poland to the East did not provide a way west for East Germans, but holes to the West in the Iron Curtain began to open. Hungary started dismantling its barbed wire border with Austria (May 2). This opened the first hole west. And East Germans began using it. Some 30,000 East Germans used the route West. Then DDR authirities began closing the border to Hungary (end of September). This left Czechoslovakia) as the only way out. Thousands of East Germans tried to reach the West by occupying the West German diplomatic facilities in Central and Eastern European capitals. This was the case in Prague because the Czech-DDR border was still open. Thousands ofEast Germans camped in the muddy garden hoping to get exit papers (August to November). The DDR closed the Czech border (October 3). This mean that the DDR had isolated itself from all of its neigbors. The result was not what hard line East German leader Erich Honecker wanted. East German protests to his regime escalated. They were not yet massive, but they were increasing. The Stazi arrested and beat people, but the demostrators were not intimidated and they only escalated. Honecker issued a shoot and kill order. Mikhail Gorbachev visited East Germany to mark the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic (October 6-7) and urged the East German leadership to accept reform. A famous quote of his is rendered in German as "Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben" (He who is too late is punished by life). Honecker continued to resist meningful. Amazingly, he even forbade the circulation of Soviet publications that he viewed as subversive. He continued to hope for last miniture Soviet military intervention and there were still substantial Soviet forces starion in the DDR. . Finaly it was the DDR Communist Party (SED) that cracked. The growing protests which were now becoming massive, casued the SED to depose Honecker (October 18). His deputy, Egon Krenz replaced him. The demonstrations continued growing. DDR officials reopened the border with Czechoslovakia (November 1) and the Czech authorities began letting East Germans just driuve straight through with their Trebbies to Wesr Germany. The Czech Communists had their own problemds s the Velvet Revolution began to unfold. Back in the DDR, Krenz was faced with a massive demonstration in Alexanderplatz -- more than half a million people (November 4). . As East German crowds converged on the Wall (November 9), German Communist officials wanted to use force to supress them. Gorbachev made it clear, however, that the Soviet forces in Germany would not support such actions. As a result, the East Germans surged through the check points in the Wall and crowds on both sides were soon desmantling the Wall. Other Communist Governments also soon fell. Most collapsed peacefully, exccept in Romania where Nikolai Cesecasneu ordered his security forces to fire on surging crowds. He was executed a few days later after a perfunctory trial. What virtually no one at the time realized, least of all Gorbachev that the firces he unleased in Eastern Europe woul rick ghe Soviet Union itself. The capstone to the end of the Cold War was the disolution of the Soviet Union (end of 1991).



Our German reders have privided some comments on our German Cold War pages. A German reader writes, "Thank you for the DDR pages! They clear the picture of the still mentioned 'welfare' in the DDR by members of the party--Die Linke (The Left)." Another reader writes, "You know what is strange about the private Berlin Cold War pages in general - most of them aren´t German. I found several British, American, Spanish etc. websites much more than those from German people. Of course there are a lot of official pages about this topic but I guess the Germans are tired of thinking and talking about this. It´s a part of our daily life - still - and nothing special to talk about. I grew up in West Berlin and now I live in Kleinmachnow, which is directly at the former borderline in the south of Berlin but in the former eastern part. So the wall is with me since a long time and I have seen and experienced all this.


Hitchcock, William I. The Struggle for Europe: The Turbulent History of a Divided Continent (Doubleday), 513p. This is a thought provoking, well researched book. He has gained access to never before used Soviet archives. We do not agree with all of his conclusions. The author in many instances, for example, tends to explain Soviet actions as response to American policies rather than the inherent nature of brutal regime.

Huder, Carolin. E-mail message (July 9, 2012).

Ostermann, Christian. "Introduction" Uprising in East Germany, 1953: The Cold War, the German Question, and the First Major Upheaval behind the Iron Curtain (Central European University Press: Budapest, 2001). This volume is part of of the “National Security Archive Cold War Document Reader” series.

Stafford, David. Spies beneath Berlin (Overlook), 211p.

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Created: 3:53 PM 11/8/2004
Last updated: 8:07 AM 7/9/2012