Why did Erich Honeker replace Walter Ulbricht in 1971?
Erich Honeker replaced Walter Ulbricht in 1971 on ‘health grounds’ - but Ulbricht was rally ousted thanks to a lot of ‘dodgy dealings’
What is Erich Honecker’s (1971-1989) approach to reunification?
Honecker’s (71-89) rejected ideas of reunification and favoured ‘demarcation’ - stressing differences between GDR and FRG. He worked to develop a distinct national identity
What did the New Constitution of 1974 State?
The new constitution of the ‘Republic of Workers and Peasants’ in 1974 declared that East Germany was the only ‘real’ Germany, working to create a truly equal society
How did the GDR portray the FRG?
The GDR portrayed the FRG as too Americanised and run by ex-Nazis
What changes were made to television and products?
East German television was renamed ‘GDR Television’, and goods made in the GDR were labelled ‘Made in GDR’, not ‘Made in Germany’
How did the FRG view GDRs want for recognition as a separate state?
The FRG undermined the GDR - West German newspapers used inverted commas round ‘GDR’ until 1988, showing they did not acknowledge it, and referred to athletes from the GDR as ‘the Soviet zone’
Did Ostpolitik improve relations despite Honecker’s striving for independence?
Despite Honecker’s desire to gain a separate identity for the GDR, the policy of Ostpolitik improved relations between the Germanies.
What was the impact of Ostpolitik, travel wise?
Ostpolitik enabled West Germans to visit the GDR, and some East Germans could visit the FRG if they could obtain a travel visa (which remained nearly impossible)
What was the 1972 Basic Treaty?
The 1972 Basic Treaty (Also known as the Berlin Accord) acknowledged each other’s independence and ‘normalised’ basic relations
What did Honecker announce in 1972?
Honecker announced that any East Germans who had fled to the FRG before 1972 could visit the GDR without fear of prosecution
What could GDR citizens do from 1973? (watch, listen…)
GDR citizens could watch and listen to FRG broadcasts from 1973 without fear of arrest, but newspapers were still very tightly controlled
How were postal and telephone services between East and West Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s?
Postal and telephone services between East and West Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s were greatly improved
What was constructed between Hamburg and Berlin?
A motorway was constructed between Hamburg and Berlin, improving FRG access to West Berlin
How was travel from the GDR to West Berlin?
Travel from GDR to West Berlin remained tightly restricted
What was the Helsinki Accord in 1975, and what about it did the SED not comply with?
The Helsinki Accord in 1975 was signed between 35 countries, which was supposed to ensure free movement between countries - the SED signed, but didn’t comply
How was travel from the GDR to the FRG vs travel from FRG to the GDR?
It was still far easier for West Germans to visit the GDR than for East Germans to visit the FRG. It was virtually impossible for working age East Germans to leave - exceptions were international sports participants, business men, politicians and old people
What conditions did working age people travel under if they WERE allowed a travel visa?
They had to travel alone in order that they had to come back, and if they didn’t the Stasi would make their families lives very difficult
How did the SED discourage visitors from the West?
The SED doubled the amount of currency Western visitors had to exchange, and charged more money for day passes - this sharply reduced the number of visitors
What happened to travel arrangements in the mid 1980s?
Travel arrangements were relaxed in the mid 1980s - by the late 1980s, over 1 million GDR citizens below retirements age were granted permission to visit the FRG an in early 1989 those previously refused a passport were given the right to appeal
What had previously happened to those who had wished to travel?
Previously, those who had wanted to travel:
- turned down by government
- faced lengthy interrogation
- faced discrimination in education or employment
- charged with treason or imprisoned
How many people did the SED allow to travel to the FRG in 1984, and why?
The SED allowed 40,000 East German citizens to emigrate to the FRG in 1984, but only because they were considered ‘politically unreliable’ or a threat to the state
What led to increasing recognition of the GDR from 1971?
Ostpolitik and the Four Power Agreement of 1971 led to more international recognition of the GDR, as did participation in international sporting events
How many countries acknowledged the GDR as an independent state between 1969 and 1974?
Over 90 countries officially recognised the GDR as an independent state between 1969 and 1974, demonstrated by the fact GDR signed the Helsinki Accord, 1975
What demonstrated GDRs growing international recognition?
The fact that they signed the Helsinki Accord, Honecker went on state visits to Italy, Austria and the GDR in 1987 and DR participated in international sports
When was the GDR-Soviet Friendship Treaty signed?
The GDR-Soviet Friendship Treaty was signed 1975
How were GDR relations with the USSR?
There was much resentment of the USSR in the GDR because of:
- anti-Communist Nazi propaganda
- brutality of USSR occupiers
- loss of German territory to Poland because of USSR
But the SED tried to encourage the USSR to be seen as friends (GDR-Soviet Treaty of Friendship signed in 1975)
How were GDR relations with other Eastern bloc countries?
Shaky - there was still much distrust between GDR and much of Eastern bloc,
What achievements did Honecker make in GDR domestic policy in the 1970s?
- Somewhat of an ‘economic miracle’, despite Soviet asset-stripping, GDR becomes one of the top industrial countries in the world
- Trade is increased within COMECON
- GDR took advantage of no-tax/tariff trade with FRG and recruited workers form other Communist states to meet labour shortage
- Agriculture improved - GDR is nearly self-sufficient by 1970s
- Relations with Protestant Church improve, pact signed in 1978 to have more cooperation
- Ambitious housing - 4 million in 1970s
- Promotion of women - 90 per cent in work, generous maternity and child-care benefits
- Good universities
- ## Highest living standards in Eastern bloc
What limitations were there to Honecker’s domestic policy in the 1970s?
- Living standards, although high compared to those in the Eastern bloc, were still lagging far behind FRG in terms of consumer goods - those made in the GDR were often of inferior quality
- Women were underrepresented in politics and powerful positions
- There was a great deal of economic inequality - Stasi officials and politicians could access goods unavailable to normal East Germans, demonstrated by the Wandlitz compound where the wealthy lived
- Underlying economic weakness: shortage of consumer goods, too dependent on FRG loans, welfare v expensive, damaged by oil crises of ‘73 and ‘79
- By the 1980s, the economic situation was v troublesome - debts and rising costs, unpopular huge defence budget led to cuts in public spending
When did Ronald Reagan become President of the USA?
Ronald Reagan became President of the USA in 1980
What did Reagan increase, and call the USSR?
Reagan dramatically increased defence spending, and called the USSR ‘the evil empire’
When does Mikhail Gorbachev become leaded of the USSR?
Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the USSR in 1985
What two policies does Gorbachev pursue?
Gorbachev pursues GLASNOST - openness, and PERESTROIKA, restructuring - Gorbachev reaches out to the West
What action did Gorbachev take in the GDR?
Gorbachev reduced the number of Soviet troops in the GDR
What other changes did Gorbachev make? (missiles, troops, interference….)
Gorbachev reduced the military USSR presence in the GDR, agreed with NATO to remove missiles from some NATO and USSR friendly countries, agreed that from 1988 onwards USSR would no longer interfere in Eastern bloc affairs
How did Gorbachev treat the FRG?
Gorbachev aimed to build relations with the FRG - West German and Soviet politicians went on visits to each others countries
How did Honecker receieve Gorbachev’s changes?
Honecker did not receive the changes well - the SED spread vicious anti-Soviet propaganda, and emphasised the GDRs own economic achievements and the existence of other parties
What effect did Gorbachev’s reforms have on the rest of the Eastern bloc?
Gorbachev’s reforms inspired pushes for more freedom in places like Poland and Czechoslovakia
How did Honecker deal with similar protests in the GDR?
Honecker responded by reacting even more brutally to crush protests against the government