The East German Leadership and the Division of Germany: Patriotism and Propaganda 1945-1953

The East German Leadership and the Division of Germany: Patriotism and Propaganda 1945-1953

The East German Leadership and the Division of Germany: Patriotism and Propaganda 1945-1953

The East German Leadership and the Division of Germany: Patriotism and Propaganda 1945-1953

Synopsis

This is the most detailed and up-to-date study of the division of Germany after the Second World War. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished documents, Dirk Spilker reveals the political realities of the situation in post-war Germany, and reassesses the motivations and actions of the Western Allies and the Soviet bloc as they manoeuvred to achieve their ends.

Excerpt

When the Third Reich collapsed at the end of the Second World War, one organization swung into action in a bid to exploit the power vacuum and implement its plans for a new German society and state: the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Backed by the victorious Soviet Union, and guided by a resolute leadership that had survived the Nazi regime in exile, the KPD resumed its activities in Germany before the fighting ceased. The first émigré KPD cadres to return to their country were flown from Moscow to a makeshift airfield near Berlin on 30 April 1945, the day of Hitler’s suicide and two days before the city’s fall. To the astonishment of most Germans, however, these cadres turned their attention not to the struggle for proletarian rule but to the building of bourgeois democratic administrations. There was even

After the arrest of the party chairman, Ernst Thälmann, in March 1933, the KPD’s Politburo and Central Committee fled to Prague, before moving on to Paris at the end of the year. From January 1935 the KPD leadership was officially based in Moscow, while operating mainly from Prague and, between 1936 and 1939, from Paris. By 1940 most KPD leaders who had escaped the Nazis had arrived in the Soviet Union and joined the Moscow émigrés, who had taken over formal control of the party after the internment of the Paris-based leaders by the French authorities in September 1939. See Horst Duhnke, Die KPD von 1933 bis 1945 (Cologne, 1972), 101–16, 183–9, 365–8. Hans-Albert Walter, ‘Das Pariser KPD-Sekretariat, der deutsch-sowjetische Nichtangriffsvertrag und die Internierung deutscher Emigranten in Frankreich zu Beginn des Zweiten Weltkrieges’, Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte (VfZG) 36/3 (1988), 483–528.

Wolfgang Leonhard, Die Revolution entläßt ihre Kinder (paperback edn., Cologne, 1990), 411–44. ‘Gruppe Ulbricht’ in Berlin April bis Juni 1945: Von den Vorbereitungen im Sommer 1944 bis zur Wiedergründung der KPD im Juni 1945. Eine Dokumentation, ed. by Gerhard Keiderling (Berlin, 1993), 39–46.

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