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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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Walled in: 13 August 1961

Walled in: 13 August 1961

(p.119) 5 Walled in: 13 August 1961
Behind the Berlin Wall

Patrick Major (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Traces local responses by East Germans to Sunday the Thirteenth—13 August 1961—the day the Berlin Wall was erected. Initial reactions were stunned, but the prohibition of visits from West Berliners ten days later hardened responses. The author compares political and emotional reactions to the (seemingly) final division of Germany as well as the severing of family ties. The limited number of local strikes and stoppages is considered in some detail, as well as the state's cranking up of the judicial apparatus to arrest regime critics and instil a new sense of state authority. The East German state was most successful where it could isolate recalcitrants, such as in the countryside. Other groups, such as doctors, academics, and engineers found that they were not facing the clamp‐down they had feared. These short‐term successes and compromises are weighed against failed productivity drives on the shop‐floor, recruitment drives for the armed forces and campaigns to deter ‘western’ television viewing, suggesting some continuities with the pre‐Wall GDR.

Keywords:   Berlin Wall, 13 August 1961, repression, arrests, strikes, escapes, shootings

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