Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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ties, on the pattern established by the communists. Their leaders even included the leading role of the Socialist Unity party in their party's statutes. With 103,000 members the Democratic Peasant's party was an important means of spreading communist propaganda among rural folks.


Bibliography

Steele Jonathan, Inside East Germany: The State that Came in from the Cold ( New York, 1977).

Democratic Women's Association. This major mass-organization in East Germany emerged from the communist-controlled antifascist women's committees in 1947. Although it was supposed to be neutral in politics, it was, in reality, a communist front organization, which attempted to reach women who were inactive in politics and win them over to the communist cause. The top leaders were ostensibly elected by the congress of the association; however, they were really designated by the communist Politburo. The congress met in session only every four years. While it was not in session, the leaders directed its affairs according to instructions received from the top party leadership. The key officials of the Democratic Women's Association were all members of the Socialist Unity party. Their main task was to encourage women to take jobs in industry and agriculture and to convince them that they should raise their children by observing Marxist-Leninist ideology. They were also to endeavor to impress women that the party's policies were correct and were leading East Germany in the right direction. The Association was also to convince the population that following the Soviet example in everyday life and politics was the correct way to live.


Bibliography

Lane Christel, "Women in Socialist Society with Special References to the GDR," Sociology, 17.4 ( 1984), pp. 489-505; Steele Jonathan, Inside East Germany: The State that Came in from the Cold ( New York, 1977).

Demographics of East Germany. There was, at first, a considerable increase in the population of East Germany. The territory that later became the Soviet zone of occupation, then turned into the East German state, had, between 1938 and 1949, 16.5 million people. By 1949, the number increased to 19. This was the result of the expulsion of ethnic Germans from the various East European states following the war and the evacuation of Germans from lands annexed by the Soviet Union and Poland. There also must have been a moderate natural growth of the population, although this must have been balanced by the losses caused by the war.

After the establishment of East Germany, however, a new exodus began by those who refused to live under totalitarian communist rule. By 1955, the size of the population was reduced to 17.8 million, and by the time the Berlin Wall was erected, it was down to 17 million. Each time internal policies were tightened up, waves of people escaped to the West. The prosperity of the West German state also attracted large numbers in the late 1950s.

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