Communist Power in Europe, 1944-1949

By Martin McCauley | Go to book overview

4 East Germany *

MARTIN McCAULEY

Germany has always been at or near, the centre of Soviet concern in Europe. When the Socialist revolution did not break out in Germany in 1917 Lenin launched the Bolsheviks on their successful route to power, relying on the German comrades quickly to follow suit. He coined the aphorism: whoever controls Berlin controls Germany, whoever controls Germany controls Europe. As good Marxist-Leninists his heirs were not likely to forget his prophecy.

War did not deliver Socialism in Germany as Lenin had expected, but the conflagration initiated by Hitler might conceivably do just that. The opportunity afforded the Soviets of occupying a part of Germany as a victorious power in 1945, could be used to guide the shocked, shattered and demoralised German people along paths which presaged a Socialist future.

What were the critical factors which influenced developments in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany between 1945 and 1949? Was Communism the natural product of political life or was it imposed by the occupying power? Is it possible, with the wisdom of hindsight, to perceive at certain points in time decisive shifts in the balance of political power? The body of literature, and it is especially small in English, favours the interpretation that Communism, at the behest of Moscow, was forced on a reluctant East German population. The object of this essay is to analyse events so as to discover the turning points in the political evolution of East Germany in the immediate post-war period.


THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT

The decision of Churchill and Roosevelt, reached at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 and adopted by Stalin in May 1943, to impose on Germany the onerous obligation of unconditional surrender meant that after Germany's defeat there could be no recognised government to represent the views of the nation. The implications of this unparalleled opportunity were not fully grasped by Great Britain and the United States.

At the first meeting of the Big Three at Teheran ( November/December 1943) the possibility of dividing Germany was discussed, but nothing

____________________
*
I am indebted to Hartmut Zimmermann for his comments on an earlier draft.

-58-

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Communist Power in Europe, 1944-1949
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes on Contributors xix
  • List of Abbreviations xxi
  • Part One 1
  • 1- Economic Developments in Eastern Europe under German Hegemony 3
  • 2- The Baltic States 1940-50 22
  • Part Two 37
  • 3- Poland 39
  • 4- East Germany 58
  • 5- Czechoslovakia 73
  • 6- Hungary 95
  • 7- Romania 111
  • Part Three 131
  • 8- Finland 133
  • 9- France 151
  • 10- Italy 168
  • II- Greece 184
  • Part Four 199
  • 12- British Policy towards Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary 1944-1946 201
  • 13- Thirty Years after 220
  • Index 231
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