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Behind the Berlin WallEast Germany and the Frontiers of Power$
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Patrick Major

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243280

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243280.001.0001

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East Germany's Dual Crisis: Politics and Economics on the Eve of the Wall

East Germany's Dual Crisis: Politics and Economics on the Eve of the Wall

(p.23) 2 East Germany's Dual Crisis: Politics and Economics on the Eve of the Wall
Behind the Berlin Wall

Patrick Major (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This is a scene‐setting chapter, explaining postwar Berlin's quadripartite status within the division of Germany, the Berlin Blockade of 1948–49, the 1953 uprising, and the city's exploitation by all the occupiers for espionage purposes. The chapter then explores popular opinion within East Germany regarding the Second Berlin Crisis of 1958–62, revealing considerable uncertainty as well as hopes for a diplomatic compromise between the superpowers on the part of ordinary East Germans. With the failure of summits such as Geneva in 1959 and Paris in 1960, there was marked resignation and fear of a third World War. The chapter also addresses the economic ‘crisis behind the crisis', in other words East Germany's promise in July 1958 to overtake per capita consumer production in West Germany by 1961 and to make the economy autarkic against a possible western embargo. Mood reports suggest considerable disbelief among both blue‐ and white‐collar workers, and a regime whose foreign policy was put on the defensive by its economic failings closer to home.

Keywords:   Berlin Crisis, foreign policy, Khrushchev ultimatum, autarky, economic crisis

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