The Question of Exploitation
In this chapter, Soviet economic policy toward the SBZ will be examined as a key to the complexity of Soviet policy toward Germany as a whole. The question of exploitation will be discussed in reference to the Yalta and Potsdam agreements which defined the relations between Germany and the Allies. Direct policies of dismantling, extracting reparations and forming joint stock companies as well as direct effects such as restructuring the economy and reorientation of trade must be considered. The generally unrecognized ambivalence of Soviet policy toward East Germany becomes clear when these harsh measures are juxtaposed with Soviet economic aid to the zone, toleration of private enterprise, early rapid economic recovery, and emphasis on improving the standard of living as reflected in consumption/investment data, household income, and consumption statistics. The apparent contradiction in policies illustrates a parallel conflict in Soviet national policy interests perceived in terms of economic recovery and eliminating Germany as a future threat while, at the same time, keeping all policy options open via-à-vis West Germany. These elements underscore the tentative nature of Soviet policy toward Germany at the time.