The GDR: Repression and Control Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in The GDR: Repression and Control Deck (37):

How did the GDR employ a preventative system of security?

•The GDR was a police state which used repression.
•They arrested suspected dissidents before they had actually done anything.
•This preventative system of security was partly achieved through an extensive system of surveillance and informers.
•Security forces were extensive, far more than in Nazi Germany.
•Generally, they worked harmoniously with the state and SED.
1.There were no rivalries that threatened its competency.
2.As with many dictatorships, the security forces essentially took military forms.


What was the NVA?

•The National People's Army was the East German military force formed in 1956 out of the People’s Police.
•It was noted for its efficiency and professionalism and could, in theory, be called out to address protest in the GDR.


What was the NVA subordinated to?

•It was subordinated to the Warsaw Pact, but its troops had not taken a significant part in any of the interventions – such as in Czechoslovakia in 1968.


How did the NVA combat recruitment issues?

Conscription was introduced in 1962


Was there provision for conscientious objectors within the NVA?

Yes, those who objected could serve in construction units rather than the military. In 1964, 12 to 15000 recruits chose this option


Who controlled the NVA and how many members did it have by the late 1980s?

By the late 1980s the numerical strength of the NVA was 179,000 with 123,000 in the army itself.
It was controlled by the SED, virtually all officers and 33% of NCO's were members of the SED and subjected to party discipline.


How many border troops were there in the late 1980s?

By the late 1980s there were about 50000 border troops. 30,000 policed the border with the West, 8000 were stationed in Berlin and 12,000 were stationed elsewhere.


What was the role of border troops?

Their apparent role was preventing external threats but in reality it was preventing escape.


Did border troops operate a shoot-to-kill policy?

This question is still debated but many died at the wall and if escapes were successful, those on duty would be punished.


What were the branches of the Police force?

KVP: The paramilitary police were responsible for internal security. They were called out during June 1953 and policed demonstrations etc.
Criminal Police: Performed the role of traditional policemen, e.g. investigating crimes.
Special Police: Discrete units who were responsible for border protection, transport and security.
Volunteer Police: Organised around the workplace, they acted as auxiliary police when social disorder threatened- one estimate puts their numbers at around 400,000


Were the police effective within the GDR?

Yes, the presence of police deterred potential criminals / dissidents but the police themselves were not oppressive. The majority of people accepted their presence and got on with their daily lives / were not significantly affected by them.


When was the Stasi formed?

February 1950.


When was Erich Mielke in charge of the Stasi?

From 1957 to the end of the GDR in 1989- he was one of the most feared people within the GDR.


How was the Stasi organised?

It was similar to the army with 27 Generals heading specialised divisions. It was divided into 13 Major Departments, each of which managed 20 Independent Departments.


Which Department was responsible for the observation and control of the domestic population? What about the Churches or underground activity?

Major Department XX.
Independent Department XX/4 controlled the Churches and XX/9 was in charge of suppressing underground activities.


What was the Stasi's total budget in 1989?

4 billion Ostmarks.


What was the official role of the Stasi?

The brief was defined in a guideline in 1958 after Mielke took charge. It was to prevent or throttle at the earliest stages, dissidence within the GDR using whatever methods necessary.
Any attempts to delay the victory of socialism would be suppressed.


By 1989, how many files did the Stasi have?

By 1989, the Stasi had files on 6 million citizens, 33% of the population.


How did the Stasi perform surveillance? (4)

•Surveillance was quite sophisticated with phone tapping, video surveillance and agents following suspects.
•They even bottled smells of suspects to give to tracker dogs.
•Stasi officers had been accused of using radiation tags to track people. This could be responsible for some unusual cancers in some of their quarries.
•They were also expert in dirty tricks such as defaming opponents, setting a honey trap – male prostitutes worked for the Stasi- and blackmail.


What was the most common category of informers?

The Unofficial Collaborators (IM): By the end of the GDR, some 500,000 people had fulfilled this role at some point. In 1989 specifically, there were 189,000, one for every 90 citizens.


What was the motivation behind IMs?

•Motivation was varied – it might be greed, desire for promotion at work, a feeling of power over others, personal grudges, blackmail by the authorities, or ideology.
•Some were informers by accident, for example talking injudiciously about someone to work colleagues who were in fact informers.


Were IMs rewarded?

•The monetary reward was unlikely to be a consideration.
•One former senior Stasi officer assured journalist Anna Funder that IMs were paid only very occasionally – sometimes a birthday present.


What were some other active informer categories?

Unofficial Collaborators for Special Duties (IMBs): They infiltrated suspicious organisations and Officers on Special Duties (OibEs) were active in spying on the leadership themselves.


Give an example of a Stasi prison camp

Hohenschönhausen in the East Berlin suburb of Lichtenberg.
o This was a complex of prison, interrogation centre and Stasi offices half a kilometre square which was blanked out of street maps.
o Officially it did not exist.
o People were taken there to be interrogated and had psychological pressure such as threats and family arrests put on them.


What does Fulbrook argue the system of informers helped to do?

Despite its efficiency, she believes it helped to destabilise the regime, especially in the later years.


How many Soviet troops were stationed in the GDR?

•The USSR maintained its highest concentration of troops outside its own borders in the GDR and by the 1980s there were approximately 400,000 troops stationed there.


What role did Soviet troops play?

•Until the abandonment of the Brezhnev Doctrine in the late 1980s, it was assumed that these troops would act to defend the regime as they did in June 1953.
•If the SED called a state of emergency, the Soviet forces could intervene.
•Brezhnev used the presence of the troops to threaten Honecker in their meeting of 28th July 1970.


What did the SED attempt to do with propaganda? Why was this difficult?

•The leadership of the GDR attempted to use propaganda to gain the support of the people.
•With the proximity of Western media, this was increasingly difficult to achieve as the East German people saw the alternatives with the TV.


What were some East German methods of propaganda?

•This entailed the use of parades, media, promotion of national pride through sporting success and so on.
•Posters and banners acclaiming the regime and GDR success were everywhere to be seen.


How were parades and marches used to celebrate the regime?

•Parades and marches applauded the regime.
•There were celebrations of labour days, anniversaries of the creation of the GDR, homages to early communist pioneers and martyrs, Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht – all geared to promote the current regime.


Which group was particularly encouraged to participate in marches and parades?

•The FDJ, in particular, was encouraged to participate in festivals and torchlight parades.
o Reminded many of Hitler Youth which was obviously what was not intended.


Were parades and marches successful in promoting support for the regime?

•It was difficult to assess the impact of parades on the largely well-ordered crowds.
•Festivals rarely seemed to achieve their propaganda objectives in the GDR.
o Possibly because of the Nazi past.
•In the 1950s officials often complained that crowds were sparse, and participants were unenthusiastic.


What other opportunities did parades provide?

•Parades could also be an opportunity for protest – such as the Olaf Palme peace march of 1987.
o While the celebrations to commemorate 40 years of the GDR were instrumental in the downfall of the regime.


How many newspapers were there in the GDR? How many were controlled by the SED?

•The GDR had 38 newspapers read by 8.3 million of its citizens.
o 66% of them were controlled directly by the SED.
o All of their content was subject to SED scrutiny.


How did newspaper editors receive orders from the SED?

The Central Committee's Department for Agitation and Propaganda issued them.


What was the main SED newspaper?

The main SED newspaper was Neues Deutschland with a circulation of a million.


Were there newspapers for other groups?

Yes, e.g. the Junge Welt for the FDJ which contained content tailored towards young people.