Background and Historical Information Compiled by Miss Barber. Helping you to understand...
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Stasiland by Anna Funder
Background and Historical Information
Compiled by Miss Barber.Helping you to understand Stasiland by Anna FunderPotsdam Conference 1945From July 17 August 2nd 1945 - The Big ThreeSoviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (replaced on July 26 by Prime Minister Clement Attlee), and U.S. President Harry Trumanmet in Potsdam, Germany to negotiate terms for the end of World War II.
Potsdam Conference 1945 - TermsDespite numerous disagreements, the Allied leaders did manage to conclude some agreements at Potsdam. For example: the negotiators confirmed the status of a demilitarized and disarmed Germany under four zones of Allied occupation. According to the Protocol of the Conference, there was to be a complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany; all aspects of German industry that could be utilized for military purposes were to be dismantled; all German military and paramilitary forces were to be eliminated; and the production of all military hardware in Germany was forbidden. The reconstitution of a national German Government was, however, postponed indefinitely, and the Allied Control Commission (which was comprised of four occupying powers, the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union) would run the country during the interregnum.Division of Germany and Austria respectively into four occupation zones (earlier agreed in principle at theYalta Conference in 1943), and the similar division of each capital, Berlin, into four zones.Potsdam Conference 1945The reconstitution of a national German Government was, however, postponed indefinitely, and the Allied Control Commission (which was comprised of four occupying powers, the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union) would run the country during the interm.Therefore Germany was divided into four occupation zones (earlier agreed in principle at theYalta Conference in 1943), and experienced the similar division of each capital, Berlin, into four zones.
Major Powers - As the relationship between the Soviet Union and the other three Allied powers quickly disintegrated in a Post WWII world (Potsdam was actually the last time they ever came together), the cooperative atmosphere of the occupation of Germany turned competitive and aggressive. Although an eventual reunification of Germany had been intended, the new relationship between the Allied powers turned Germany into West versus East, democracy versus communism.The Cold WarThe disintegration of the relationships between the worlds major powers after WWII is classified as the Cold War 1946 1991 -TheCold Warwas a sustained state of political and military tension between powers in theWestern Bloc(theUnited States, itsNATOallies and others such asJapan) and powers in theEastern Bloc(theSoviet Unionand its allies in Warsaw Pact).It was "cold" because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, although there were major regional wars inKorea,VietnamandAfghanistanthat the two sides supported. The Cold War split the temporary wartime alliance againstNazi Germany, leaving the USSR and the US as twosuperpowerswith profound economic and political differences overcommunismandcapitalism, totalitarianism and democracy.The US and USSRUNITED STATESDemocratic political systemEnjoyed broad individual freedomWere able to speak, worship and travel freelyThey were free to start their own private businesses.
SOVIET UNION- Communist rule existed- They were taught all property should be held communally- Private businesses and property abolished- No freedom of speechpapers, television and all other media owned by the State- They were not permitted to travel out of their country- No religious freedom
Germany reorganized..again!In 1949, this new organization of Germany became official when the three zones occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France combined to form West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany). The zone occupied by the Soviet Union quickly followed by forming East Germany (the German Democratic Republic).The Terms FDR and GDR are often used in the text Stasiland by Anna Funder.
This same division into West and East occurred in Berlin. Since the city of Berlin had been situated entirely within the Soviet zone of occupation, West Berlin became an island of democracy within Communist East Germany.WEST VS EASTWithin a short period of time after the war, living conditions in West Germany and East Germany became distinctly different.
The WESTWith the help and support of its occupying powers, West Germany set up a capitalist society and experienced such a rapid growth of their economy that it became known as the "economic miracle." With hard work, individuals living in West Germany were able to live well, buy gadgets and appliances, and to travel as they wished.
CAPITALISM - is an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
The EASTNearly the opposite was true in East Germany. Since the Soviet Union had viewed their zone as a spoil of war, the Soviets pilfered factory equipment and other valuable assets from their zone and shipped them back to the Soviet Union. When East Germany became its own country, it was under the direct influence of the Soviet Union and thus a Communist society was established. In East Germany, the economy dragged and individual freedoms were severely restricted.Communismis a socioeconomic systemstructureduponcommon ownershipof the means of productionand characterized by the absence ofclasses, money,and thestate; as well as asocial,politicaland economicideology and movement that aims to establish this social order.The StasiThe Stasi was the term commonly used to refer to thesecret policeagency of the German Democratic Republic(East Germany). The Stasi was one of the most hated and feared institutions of the East German communist government. The Stasi, whose formal role was not defined in legislation, was responsible for both domestic political surveillance and foreignespionage, and it was overseen by the ruling Socialist Unity Party. Basically their role was to protect communism, the GDR government and identify and remove ANY threats. The Stasi motto was "Schild und Schwert der Partei" which means the Shield and Sword of the Party.
The StasiOne of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents. It also worked as an intelligence agency abroad, the respective divisionwas responsible for bothespionageand for conductingcovert operationsin foreign countries. Numerous Stasi officials were prosecuted for their crimes after 1990. AfterGerman reunification, the surveillance files that the Stasi had maintained for millions of East Germans were laid open, so that any citizen could inspect their personal file on request; these files are now maintained by theFederal Commissioner for the Stasi Records.1950s desperate times = desperate measuresBy the late 1950s, many people living in East Germany wanted out, they were no longer able to stand the repressive living conditions of East Germany. Although some of them would be stopped on their way, hundreds of thousands of others made it across the border. Many of those who escaped were young, trained professionals. By the early 960s, East Germany was rapidly losing both its labour force and its population.Having already lost 2.5 million people by 1961, East Germany desperately needed to stop this mass exodus. Desperate to keep its citizens, East Germany decided to build a wall to prevent them from crossing the border.
The Wall - 1961There had been rumours that something might happen to tighten the border of East and West Berlin, but no one was expecting the speed nor the absoluteness of the Wall.Just past midnight on the night of August 12-13, 1961, trucks with soldiers and construction workers rumbled through East Berlin. While most Berliners were sleeping, these crews began tearing up streets that entered into West Berlin, dug holes to put up concrete posts, and strung barbed wire all across the border between East and West Berlin. Telephone wires between East and West Berlin were also cut.
The Wall Shock and AngerGermans were shocked when they woke up that morning. What had once been a very fluid border was now rigid.No longer could East Germans cross the border for operas, plays, soccer games, etc. No longer could the approximately 60,000 commuters head to West Berlin for well-paying jobs. No longer could families, friends, and lovers cross the border to meet their loved ones. Whichever side of the border one went to sleep on during the night of August 12, they were stuck on that side for decades.
The Wall the structure.The Berlin Wall stretched over a hundred miles. It ran not only through the centre of Berlin, but also wrapped around West Berlin, entirely cutting West Berlin off from the rest of East Germany. The Berlin Wall started out as a barbed-wire fence with concrete posts, but just a few days after the first fence was placed, it was quickly replaced with a sturdier, more permanent structure made out of concrete blocks, topped with barbed wire.The first two versions of the wall (barbed wire and concrete blocks) were replaced by the third version of the Berlin Wall in 1965. This version consisted of a concrete wall, supported by steel girders.The fourth version of the Berlin Wall, constructed from 1975 to 1980, was the most complicated and thorough. It consisted of concrete slabs reaching nearly 12-feet high (3.6 m) and 4-feet wide (1.2 m), plus it had a smooth pipe running across the top to hinder people from scaling the Wall.
The Wall the deterrent.The B