Soviet policy toward the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) in Germany evolved in accordance with Soviet domestic policy needs and in response to the dynamic of growing Soviet-Allied conflict in the international arena in general and over Germany in particular. Germany, a unifying factor in the alliance initially, became a core element in its disintegration, a focus of the incompatibility of U.S. and Soviet long-term interests. A brief review of the breakdown of the alliance leading to the de jure division of Germany in 1949 is necessary to understand Soviet actions in the Eastern Zone. ( 1)
The trauma of the German invasion and deep penetration into Soviet territory accompanied by terrible losses of life and materiel was indelibly imprinted in the Soviet memory. Despite the total defeat of Germany, signalled by its unconditional surrender, the Soviet sense of insecurity seems to have remained overpowering. This marked the second time within the span of a few decades that Russia had been at war with Germany; therefore, a primary Soviet goal in the aftermath of World War II was to ensure that Germany would never again be in a position to attack the Soviet Union. Stalin also pressed for substantial reparations from Germany as partial compensation for the tremendous losses suffered by the Soviet Union in World War II. The tension within the alliance arose not from these goals per se but rather from differing, albeit ambiguous, notions as to how these goals might best be achieved.