about that wall through the streets of Berlin

(old GDR advertisement of the electrical engineering industry)

There was a longer discussion on that randform post about oppression in the GDR. Within the discussion a randform reader called Ditta found my opinion that “part of all that huge mess of a wall through the streets of Berlin was plain economic warfare” absurd. This is still my opinion: there were surely people running away from East Germany for pure political reasons, but I dare say that a not to small part left for economical reasons. Moreover this reasoning doesnt justify the wall, I think it is clear that the wall was an inhuman mistake. The discussion just sheds a different light on the involved motivations.

I currently have not the time to discuss this in detail and since this is a different thread I hereby link to the comment which led to Ditta’s reaction and ask people who wish to discuss this issue to leave their comments here at this thread.

Blogwise – I am currently preparing a blog entry, which takes more time than I would have suspected…in particular I am not on vacation.

3 Responses to “about that wall through the streets of Berlin”

  1. history student Says:

    Wikipedia says that the east german communists called the wall “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” but the reference link is broken. Is this true? I mean who would believe this?

  2. nad Says:

    Is this true?

    Yes it is true, that is I heard this in person out of the mouth of east german officials, sometimes I think I also heard the term “antiimperialistic Schutzwall”. The term “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” was apparently coined by Horst Sindermann.

    In a documentation from Dirk Schindelbeck at the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung it is written:

    Als Erfinder der Formel “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall” gilt ZK-Mitglied Horst Sindermann, der im Auftrag des SED-Politbüros im Herbst 1961 eine ideologische Begründung für den Mauerbau zu erarbeiten hatte. Zur Rechtfertigung erklärte Sindermann im Mai 1990 dem “Spiegel”: “Wir wollten nicht ausbluten, wir wollten die antifaschistisch-demokratische Ordnung, die es in der DDR gab, erhalten. Insofern halte ich meinen Begriff auch heute noch für richtig.” Zit. nach: Siegfried Prokop, Die Berliner Mauer (1961-1989). Fakten, Hintergründe, Probleme, Werder/Havel 2009, S. 56.

    translation without guarantee:

    Inventor of the term “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” is probably Central Comittee member Horst Sindermann, who was ordered by the SED Politbüro to work out an ideological explication for the erection of the Berlin Wall. As a justification Sindermann said in 1990 to the magazine “Der Spiegel”: “We didn’t want to bleed to death, we wanted to keep the anti-fascistic democratic order, which was exisiting in GDR. So I still think my term was correct.
    Citations from “Siegfried Prokop, Die Berliner Mauer (1961-1989). Fakten, Hintergründe, Probleme, Werder/Havel 2009, S. 56.”

    It should be remarked at this point that Sindermann was persecuted by the Nazi’s and imprisoned in concentration camps. Moreover it is true that GDR officials were pointing out that a lot of Nazis were still in ranks within Westgermany, especially in the juridicial circles. However there were still also Nazi’s in ranks in Eastgermany. In how far the eastgerman government was more successful in eliminating Nazi’s is still debated.

    But back to the wall and what I said above about the economic problems. I find this is quite clearly documented in an article by Alexandra Luther/Karl Obermanns at the German Broadcasting Archive:

    Die endgültige Entscheidung zum Bau der Mauer fiel am 1. August 1961 in einem Telefonat des sowjetischen Partei- und Regierungschefs Nikita Chruschtschow mit dem Staatsratsvorsitzenden der DDR, Walter Ulbricht. Erst im Jahr 2009 ist die Niederschrift dieses Gespräches publik geworden. Zunächst ging es in dem Telefonat um die wirtschaftliche Lage der DDR und Ulbricht nahm unter anderem Bezug auf die Versorgungsmängel durch die schlechte Ernte im Jahr 1960 und die Forderungen der Bevölkerung:

    „Außerdem übersteigt die Kaufkraft der Bevölkerung bei uns gegenwärtig das Warenangebot um zwei Milliarden Mark. Die Bevölkerung stellt Forderungen, die nicht befriedigt werden können. Das Problem des Kaufkraftüberhangs gegenüber dem Angebot können wir bei offener Grenze nicht lösen, (…). (…) Neben der Wühltätigkeit Westdeutschlands gibt es also eine Reihe Fragen, die bei offener Grenze nicht zu lösen sind. Wir erleiden große Verluste durch die Grenzgänger und die Republikflucht.“ Zum Ende des über zweistündigen Telefonats führt Ulbricht zur Grenzschließung an: „Technisch können wir das in zwei Wochen vorbereiten.“ Und Chruschtschow gibt Ulbricht das erhoffte Einverständnis: „Führt das durch, wann ihr wollt, wir können uns jederzeit darauf einrichten.“

    I translate this another time.

  3. nad Says:

    In reference to the comment abpve I would like to point out that today is Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the Holocaust.
    The german parlament held a special memorial hour dedicated to the Nazi
    Euthanasia victims, i.e. victims of Aktion T4. (see also randform post: Lobetal -in food chains)

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