Soviet Policy toward East Germany Reconsidered: The Postwar Decade

By Ann L. Phillips | Go to book overview

CONCLUSIONS

The issue of exploitation is more subtle and complex than at first glance when the full range of Soviet economic policy in East Germany is assessed against varying, appropriate criteria: the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, the Soviet reparations proposal, Soviet losses, and German ability to pay. The guarantee of an absolute value of reparations from Germany to help restore the devastated Soviet economy was a care element of Soviet policy toward Germany. Soviet expectations of a favorable agreement on the reparations issue based on Yalta were disappointed at Potsdam. The compromise reached at the postwar conference bore only the slightest resemblance to the more comprehensive Yalta Protocol on German Reparations. Even assuming the Soviet position of complementarity of the two agreements, there was no mention of an agreed-upon value of reparations Germany was to pay. While this was not unreasonable in view of the loss of German territory to Poland and the need to evaluate Germany's postwar industrial capacity, from the Soviet perspective, given its unequal burden in the war effort and the sympathetic position of the Roosevelt administration, the final agreement could be interpreted as a duplicitous attempt to deny the USSR its legitimate claims. Seen in that light and taking into account the uncertain nature of prolonged occupation, the Soviet policy of removing as much as possible as fast as possible from the SBZ could be judged as harsh but not exploitive. The exaction of reparations from current production and the use of German labor, pointed to as elements of exploitation in violation of the Allied reparations agreement, were approved by the United States, Great Britain, and the USSR as legitimate forms of reparations at Yalta. Thus, based on the Soviet perspective of the two agreements, this charge is not valid.

Assessed against German treatment of the Soviets during their occupation during World War II and Germany's ability to pay, Soviet reparations policy was not exploitive. Soviet loss of life and damage to the economy, despite relocation of important industrial installations and construction of new ones beyond the Urals, was compensated for only in small part by reparations. Soviets estimate the damage done by the Nazi occupation at $485 billion. Thus, Soviet reparations came to less than 4 percent of the total.( 147) In fact, compared to the utter depravity of Nazi policy in

-99-

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Soviet Policy toward East Germany Reconsidered: The Postwar Decade
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - Germany, 1945-1949 13
  • Conclusions 43
  • Notes 46
  • 3 - The Question of Exploitation 65
  • Conclusions 99
  • Notes 102
  • 4 - Building to a Crisis 115
  • Conclusions 135
  • Notes 137
  • 5 - Transition to Support 149
  • Conclusions 180
  • Notes 182
  • 6 - The Gdr: A Special Case in East Europe 197
  • Conclusions 209
  • Notes 211
  • 7 - Conclusions 215
  • Appendix a Protocol of Proceedings of the Crimea Conference 223
  • Appendix B Protocol of Proceedings of the Potsdam Conference 225
  • Appendix C Reparations 227
  • Appendix D Summation of Soviet Credits to the Gdr, 1945-1960 231
  • Selected Bibliography 233
  • Index 257
  • About the Author 263
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