Wednesday, 7 October 2009

East Germany: 60 Years On

There are many countries over the years which have come and gone. You need only check out, the sadly now defunct, website "Footnotes To History" to see just how many countries have existed relatively recently that you probably know nothing about.

But 60 years ago today one country was founded which would have an influence well beyond anything most other former countries could dream of. The German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) was formed from the Soviet Occupation Zone in post war Germany and came in to being in direct response to the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany in the western Occupation Zones of the USA, UK and France.

It was to last just 40 years before the end of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism in Europe brought about the long awaited reunification of the two Germanies. Here's a few pictures to remember the era.

Soviet tanks put down the 1953 East German uprising in East Berlin

A Trabant P50 - The most recognisable product from the DDR (check out a tribute here)

A Luftstreitkräfte der NVA Mig 23- Thanks to it's front line status the DDR often got the top Soviet tech well before other Warsaw Pact nations.

Before 1961 Berlin residents could travel between the four different sectors with, relative, ease. Afterwards the citizens of the Soviet Zone were faced with a wall and the chance of death if they thought of trying to cross the boundary.

The Palast der Republik in Berlin was the home of the DDR's parliament, the Volkskammer, despite East Berlin being legally the responsibility and territory of the Soviet Union.

By 1990 the winds of change had well and truly blown and in the dying days of the DDR the people took their revenge by storming the offices of the hated Stasi. Read more about the crimes of the Stasi here.

There's plenty of information out there about the fascinating, if sometimes disturbing, history of East Germany. Give it a read! 

Further Reading 

The People's State: East German Society from Hitler to Honecker by M Fulbrook (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall - Anna Funder (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

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