| Deutsche Demokratische Republik
German Democratic Republic
|Anthem: Auferstanden aus Ruinen (Risen from the Ruins)|
|Official Language: German|
|Government: Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands
(Socialist Unity Party of Germany)
|Heads of State: Erich Honecker (1971-1990), Christiane Kerner (1991-Present Day)|
|Area: 348,021 km2|
|Currency: German Mark (Mark der DDR)|
The German Democratic Republic (GDR; German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR; commonly known in English as 'Red' Germany) is a socialist state created by the Soviet Union in the Soviet Zone of occupied Germany. since then it has become more and more independant of the Soviet Union to the extent that it is not a satellite state, and has been viewed as Soviet regimes as an "attack dog" within Europe due to successive German governments icy relationship with its fellow German speaking neighbour, the Rhinish Republic. The GDR is viewed in Western Europe as a threat to European security and is seperated from Western Europe by a large system of defences built by French President Charles De Gaulle in the 1960's. The country currently does have severe restrictions on travel outside the GDR, citizens are required to apply for a visa up to a year in advance to travel to a Western country - visas to visit the Rhinish Republic are seldom given. Those who wish to travel to Socialist nations may apply at least one month in advance, and these are usually accepted.
Why was the GDR created?Edit
The German Offensive of 1944 in the Ardennes had been immeasurably successful, Allied forces had been pushed out of Eastern Belgium and Luxembourg with the Germans now once again in control of Antwerp the Western Front grinded to a halt while Soviet progress on the East was breathtaking. As Hitler celebrated the capturing of the 3rd and 1st US army at the Battle of Namur in February 1945 there were several more successes on the Western Front for the Reich, as many more liberated French cities were reoccupied there was some talk in Allied circles of signing a truce with the Nazis to fight off the Soviets yet the discovery of Auschwitz in January 1945 by Soviet forces turned any idea of a truce with the Nazi regime into an impossibility. As March approached the German High Command made a peace offer to the allies in which they would accept peace with the allies and the German cessation of Alsace-Lorraine, this was rejected. The Germans began to fortify their positions in the Western Front as more and more manpower was required to defend the Fatherland from the Soviet advance, in early April 1945 the Führer was convinced by his friends to leave Berlin with his new wife, Eva – he was not keen to “die as a dog, and be buried in the backyard, the German people will need their Führer in the coming years”. As Berlin began to feel the bite of Soviet artillery it was Goebbels who took over control of the Bunker and when the Red Army stormed the Bunker they found him in Hitler’s office. After a sentimental goodbye to Bavaria and the Eagle’s Nest Hitler was sighted in Switzerland amongst a convoy of German refugees who feared being brought under Soviet domination.
1947 - A Revolutionary Year for GermanyEdit
It was rumoured that Hitler then made his way to South America, possibly Chile or Argentina, every few years a recording of his voice would find his way to the BBC in 1949 he predicted the “rise of a new age, the Fatherland has been lost – yet her heart lives on in the faithful. The Soviet menace spreads across Europe like a plague; men like Churchill and FDR have betrayed Western civilization”. Hitler died in 1976, aged 87 in his political testament he urged that “a new Reich shall be built out of the ashes of the old, whether it be in Europe or elsewhere we must fight against the forces of Communistic Zionism which has embodied itself through the United States and her allies! The people of this world must declare ‘no more’”, after his death there was a small scale resurgence in neo-Nazi organisations across Europe and in some countries the Far Right does retain a degree of influence over moderate right-wing parties, there is a roaring trade in Hitler’s recordings through underground networks. The war had come to a close in late 1945 as the new leader of the Reich, Goebbels submitted to an unconditional surrender which was signed in Cologne, Soviet forces had by the occupied almost all of Germany. The Rhineland was a pocket of German resistance, which was then taken under American protection. At Yalta and Potsdam Stalin had demanded that all of Germany be brought under Soviet influence, something that both Churchill and De Gaulle protested against furiously. However FDR upheld his demands and managed to please the British and French by promising that the American held parts of Germany would never pass into Soviet hands in hope that the post-war world could be one of international co-operation. In 1947 the German Democratic Republic was declared in the Soviet-held zone, 1951 saw the withdrawal of American forces from the occupied zone which was the Saarland and Trier, a referendum was held in these regions between unity with the rest of Germany or membership in the new country that was forming in the Benelux region, in the words of Churchill “we could risk no more than a meek condemnation, the world is tired of war – our battles must be fought when we are strong enough to win them”.
The ruling political party in East Germany is the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany, SED). It was created in 1946 through the Soviet-directed merger of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in the Soviet controlled zone. The Potsdam Agreement committed the Soviets to supporting a democratic form of government in Germany, and, unlike other Soviet satellites, other political parties were permitted. All parties operating in East Germany are members of the "National Front of Democratic Germany", ostensibly a united coalition of anti-fascist political parties. It is completely controlled by the SED. Members include:
- Christlich-Demokratische Union Deutschlands (Christian Democratic Union of Germany)
- Demokratische Bauernpartei Deutschlands (Democratic Farmers' Party of Germany, DBD). This party is of special importance because of farmers' role in the economy.
- Liberal-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands (Liberal Democratic Party of Germany, LDPD
- Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (National Democratic Party of Germany, NDPD
Elections take place to a parliament called the Volkskammer, but are effectively controlled by the SED/state hierarchy. Elections are held in less-than-secret conditions, with voters given the choice of approving or rejecting "unity lists" put forward by the National Front. As is the case in most Communist countries, approval rates of 90 percent or more were routine, in the latest Election 99.9% of voters turned out in favour of the Unity List. The Volkskammer also includes representatives from the mass organisations like the Free German Youth (Freie Deutsche Jugend or FDJ), or the Free German Trade Union Federation. In an attempt to include women in the political life of East Germany, there is a Democratic Women's Federation of Germany, with seats in the Volkskammer. Important non-parliamentary mass organisations in East German society included the German Gymnastics and Sports Association (Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund or DTSB), and People's Solidarity (Volkssolidarität, an organisation for the elderly). Another society of note is the Society for German-Soviet Friendship.
The Secret PoliceEdit
The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security), commonly known as the Stasi is the official secret police of East Germany. The Stasi is headquartered in Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. It is widely regarded as one of the most effective – and repressive – intelligence and secret police agencies in the world. The Stasi's motto is "Schild und Schwert der Partei" (Shield and Sword of the Party), showing its connections to the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany and its leader Erich Honecker. The Stasi infiltrates almost every aspect of German life. In the mid-1980s, a network of civilian informants, Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators), began growing across Germany. It is estimated that is 1 informer for every 7 German citizens.
Auferstanden aus Ruinen (Risen from the Ruins) is the national anthem of the German Democratic Republic. When, in 1947, under Soviet occupation, the socialist rulers decided to establish a new German state, lyrics were written by the poet Johannes R. Becher, who later became minister of education, in such a manner that they fitted to the melody Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser, composed in 1797 by Joseph Haydn.
Written in 1949, the anthem reflects the early stages of the German state, in which continuing progress towards reunification of the occupation zones was seen by most Germans as appropriate and natural. Consequently, Becher's lyrics develop several connotations of "unity" and combine them with "fatherland" (einig Vaterland), which here means Germany as a whole. However, this concept soon would not conform to an increasingly icy Cold War context, especially after the cessation of terrorities to the newly formed Kingdom of Benelux and the break-away Rhinish Republic brought new tones to the anthem.
|German lyrics||Approximate translation|
Auferstanden aus Ruinen und der Zukunft zugewandt, lasst uns Dir zum Guten dienen, Deutschland, einig Vaterland. Alte Not gilt es zu zwingen, und wir zwingen sie vereint, denn es muss uns doch gelingen, dass die Sonne schön wie nie über Deutschland scheint, über Deutschland scheint.
Risen from the ruins and faced towards the future, Let us serve you for the good, Germany, united fatherland. Old woes we will have to conquer, and, united, so we shall, For it lies within our power that the sun, beautiful as never before, Shines over Germany, shines over Germany.
Glück und Friede sei beschieden Deutschland, unserm Vaterland. Alle Welt sehnt sich nach Frieden, reicht den Völkern eure Hand. Wenn wir brüderlich uns einen, schlagen wir des Volkes Feind. Lasst das Licht des Friedens scheinen, dass nie eine Mutter mehr ihren Sohn beweint, ihren Sohn beweint.
Happiness and peace may be granted Germany, our fatherland. All the world now longs for peace, so go forth and extend your hand. When as brothers we unite, we defeat the people's foe. Let it shine, the light of Peace! so that no mother again must Mourn her son, mourn her son.
Lasst uns pflügen, lasst uns bauen, lernt und schafft wie nie zuvor, und der eignen Kraft vertrauend steigt ein frei Geschlecht empor. Deutsche Jugend, bestes Streben unsres Volks in dir vereint, wirst du Deutschlands neues Leben. Und die Sonne schön wie nie über Deutschland scheint, über Deutschland scheint.
Let us plough, let us build, learn and work as never before, And, in confidence and strength, a free generation will come forth. German youth, the best endeavor of our people combined in you, You will be Germany's new life. Then may the sun, more beautiful than ever Shine over Germany, shine over Germany.
Rock bands were expected to sing in German only. This is viewed as a logical constraint by Party leaders in order to protect German culture and heritage. Each song released in the German Democratic Republic must be released under the state owned AMIGA label, each song goes under intense examination to ensure that any anti-socialist lyrics are removed. Bands such as Renfit have been known to dissapear from the charts after accusations of “Social Fascism” were made by the government.
The Puhdys and Karat are popular mainstream bands, managing to hint at critical thoughts in their lyrics without being explicit, they find success in other Socialist countries and even have a following in Benelux and the Rhinish Republic. Like most mainstream acts, they appear in popular youth magazines such as Neues Leben and Magazin.
Influences from the West have been brought under stricter and stricter controls, the boarder areas of the GDR with Capitalist nations have been known to be able to receive Western television and radio, however this tendancy has declined since the late 1980’s when the Stasi began a crack-down against “unpatriotic” actions such as listening to the BBC or Radio Free Europe. Entire families have been known to dissapear after tuning in to view non-Socialist news agencies and entertainment programmes.
In the GDR, the movie industry is very active. The head-group for film-productions was the DEFA, Deutsche Film AG, which is divided into different local groups, for example Gruppe Berlin, Gruppe Babelsberg or Gruppe Johannisthal, where the local teams shoot and produce films. Besides folksy movies, the movie-industry is known worldwide for its productions, especially children's movies ("Das kalte Herz", film versions of the Grimm brothers fairy-tales and modern productions such as "Das Schulgespenst"). Frank Beyer's "Jakob der Lügner" (about persecution of Jews in Third Reich) and, "Fünf Patronenhülsen"(Five Bullet Shells) about resistance against fascism, became internationally famous.Movies about problems of everyday life such as "Die Legende von Paul und Paula" (directed by Heiner Carow) and "Solo Sunny" (directed by Konrad Wolf and Wolfgang Kohlhaase) are also very popular.
The film industry is remarkable for its production of Ostern, or Western-like movies. Indians in these films often take the role of displaced people who fight for their rights, in contrast to the American westerns of the time, where Indians are often either not mentioned at all or are portrayed as the villains. Yugoslavians are often cast as the Indians, due to the small number of American Indians in eastern Europe. Gojko Mitić is well-known in these roles, often playing the righteous, kindhearted and charming chief ("Die Söhne der großen Bärin" directed by Josef Mach). These films were part of the phenomenon of Europe producing alternative films about the colonization of America.
Cinemas in the GDR also show foreign films. Czechoslovak and Polish productions are more common, but also certain western movies have been shown. Further, movies representing or glorifying capitalistic ideology are not bought. Comedies enjoy great popularity, such as the Danish "Olsen Gang" or movies with the French comedian Louis de Funès.