Eastern Zone and Soviet Policy in Germany, 1945-50

Eastern Zone and Soviet Policy in Germany, 1945-50

Eastern Zone and Soviet Policy in Germany, 1945-50

Eastern Zone and Soviet Policy in Germany, 1945-50

Excerpt

Writing about Russia, or countries under Russian influence, is like interpreting a foreign language. Words and phrases take on a meaning quite separate from that to which we are accustomed. This applies to political catchwords as much as to economic terminology, such as 'productive' or 'national income'. Far greater, however, is the difficulty that no information is released by official agencies in these countries except for propaganda purposes, and consequently no accurate account of conditions could be given if it were based only on published official sources. Naturally there is a dearth of accurate and unbiased studies.

Only in Eastern Germany has the iron curtain on information partially failed to achieve the desired object. In addition to the accounts available from refugees--of which there are many concerning all Eastern Europe--there are a number of more or less reliable published works, and much 'loose' information which has to be garnered personally and on the spot. This is not the first time many of the facts given in this book have appeared in print, indeed I have drawn liberally on previous publications. But I have tried to present a coherent whole for these five years of direct occupation, to provide a source for reference to the available material on this subject, and above all to avoid making the materials presented here a mere tool for underpinning a ready- made thesis. No doubt a good deal of material has gone unnoticed all the same; this is inevitable when an author has to track his facts down like easily scared chamois. But it is hoped that this volume will at least partially fill the gap, by drawing together some of what is known and has been written, and supplementing it with the impressions of a detailed personal study.

The subject itself seems to me to need little apology. The development of the Soviet zone of Germany is a partial cross-section of two of our most vital problems at the moment, the Russian- Communist problem and the German problem. The Eastern zone is not the permanent focus of Soviet policy, nor at the time of writing was it the main arena for the ebullition of the German problem, but it was equally not a mere backwater. Eastern Germany partly reflected its Eastern neighbours; in many respects it was unique. The fascination of the subject is therefore twofold, the . . .

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