Stalin's Death and Berlin Uprising 1953


Stalin's Death

On March 1st 1953, Stalin was found in soiled pyjamas. The next day, Beria organised non-Jewish doctors. By 5th March, Stalin's breathing became shallow and he became blue with cold. He died of a stroke on this day.

Svetlana watched him ***** for power as he died, and 100 died of asphyxiation at Stalin's funeral. 

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East Germany Uprising

Farmers disliked collectivisation in East Germany and in December 1952, workers complained of unfair Christmas bonuses. People living within 5km of West Germany had to move in their thousands, and citizens of East Germany wanted abolition of the volkspolizei and kaserniete volkspolizei, alongside FREE ELECTIONS.

Ulbricht at the second party conference of the SED announced an 'accelerated road to socialism,' (9-12 July 1952), with a rise in heavy industry and farmers forced to join LPGs, agricultural cooperatives. 

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East Germany Uprising II

Artists had to stay in line with socialist realism, causing many to move to the West. Alongside this, RE was banned in schools and Junge Gemeinde was blacklisted as an evangelical youth group with university students expelled.

Besirk replaced Lander, regional administrative districts, alongside Besirksrat, regional councils, headed by Besirksecretär, regional chief secretaries.

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East Germany Uprising III

Between 1952-May 1953, prison population rose from 45,000 to 66,000, with new crimes made such as black markets, illegal currency, and tax-evasion. In February 1953, there were hotel raids, creating empty houses on the Baltic Coast for FDGB workers.

Moscow didn't associate itself with the accelerated road to socialism and workers disliked the changes made. Veterans, according to Catherine Epstein, had fought the Nazis and distrusted landowning classes and Churches - they liked changes.

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East Germany Uprising IIII

Senior members in the East German Communist Politburo, including PM Otto Grotewohl and Frederick Ebert, expressed concerns. Rudolf Hernnstadt, editor of Neues Deutschland, tried to stop Ulbricht's sectarian policies in the 50's, supported by Wilhelm Zaisser, Minister of State Security.

On 9 April 1953, 2 million workers were told they would no longer receive food subsidies, and on 28 May, 10% work norm rises were issued to improve working conditions.

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East Germany Uprising IIIII

On June 11th 1953, as Moscow promised they would prioritise East Germany if they followed a New Course, Ulbricht, Oelßner, and Grotewohl signed a communique promising to restore land to farmers and hotel owners, stop persecuting Junge Gemeinde and the middle class children, reverse April working norms, and raise the standards of living.

Working classes feared the return of criminals to the East and abuse of ration cards by West Germans.

On 14th June, Neues Deutschland announced work norms would be reversed, but FDGB paper Tribune said work norms improved working conditions and cheaper goods would be available to workers.

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East Germany Uprising IIIIII

On 16th June, construction workers on the Stalinallee marched up the headquarters of the FDGB and House of Ministries to demonstrate, demanding reversing of work norms and free elections. RIAS in West Berlin allowed broadcasting of demands.

90,000 in East Berlin were involved and 420,000 workers in West Germany. 

Most affected areas were Leipzig, Magdeburg, and Halle. Edna Dorn, a concentration camp worker serving 15 years in prison, was released, and 373 towns were affected. Workers on farms used guns to prevent the return of private farmers.

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East Germany Uprising IIIIIII

On 17th-18th June 51 demonstrators were shot/crushed by Soviet and Volkspolizei tanks, and by 22 June twenty were killed before Soviet military tribunals.

By August 1953, 13,000 were in custody and anti-Communists were sent to Siberia, only released after Adenauer visited Moscow in 1955. 1500 prison sentences were issued, including three for life. 

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Results of the Berlin Uprising

Go-slows and absentees continued. Ulbricht visited the October 7 machine tool company and a member of the SED claimed it was impossible to criticise the USSR when things got bad.

The army secret police recruited informants and the Stasi protected Ulbricht.

In 1960 the government moved to Braudenburg and propaganda was used against fascist provocateurs. Workers, however, were allowed to negotiate at a factory level. The SED denied responsibility for the uprising.

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