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The East German Leadership and the Division of GermanyPatriotism and Propaganda 1945-1953$
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Dirk Spilker

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199284122

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199284122.001.0001

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(p.246) Conclusion
The East German Leadership and the Division of Germany


Oxford University Press

The German communists who resumed their work in Soviet-occupied eastern Germany in the dying days of World War II were determined to exploit the existing power vacuum and seize — with help from the Soviet Union — the key posts in the new administrations. Their plan was to absorb Germany's proud but weakened Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) into a communist-led Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) and thus win control of the German workers' movement, destroy the power of Germany's upper bourgeoisie through a series of radical economic reforms promoted under the guise of anti-fascism, and win the support of the German middle classes by protecting their interests and rejecting calls for an immediate transition to socialism. This strategy worked well until, in the autumn of 1945, opposition to the communists from Germany's other political parties, which had earlier been non-existent because of the post-war chaos, increased. Still, the founding of the SED was a success for the communists at a time when few things were certain in Germany.

Keywords:   Germany, socialism, Soviet Union, Socialist Unity Party of Germany, political parties, democracy

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