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4. How important was repression for the stability of the GDR?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the importance of repression for the stability of the East German regime, focusing in particular on: (i) the Western assumption that the GDR only survived through the brutal repression of its own people; (ii) the several occasions where anti-government (and by extension anti-Soviet) protests were crushed by military intervention from the Soviet Union – East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968; (iii) the extent to which East Germans actively participated in the socialist system – either actively and enthusiastically or simply ‘by default’, e.g. going to work at a state-owned factory; and (iv) the work of Mary Fulbrook and the concept of ‘participatory dictatorship’.
In this course, Dr Marcel Thomas (University of Manchester) explores life in East Germany between 1945-89 via six key questions: (1) Why was housing seen as so important to the building of a socialist society?; (2) Were women more emancipated in East Germany than in the West?; (3) To what extent did Stasi surveillance shape life in East Germany?; (4) How important was repression for the stability of the GDR?; (5) What was the role of the Protestant church in East Germany?; and (6) How did Ostpolitik change relations between West and East Germany?
Dr Marcel Thomas is a historian of modern Germany with a particular interest in rural and urban life, oral history, memory and sensory methodologies. His monograph Local Lives, Parallel Histories: Villagers and Everyday Life in the Divided Germany (2020) is the first comparative study of how East and West German villagers experienced and navigated social change in their localities in the postwar era.
Cite this Lecture
Thomas, M. (2021, February 09). Germany – Life in East Germany, 1949-89 - How important was repression for the stability of the GDR? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/germany-life-in-east-germany-1949-89/how-important-was-repression-for-the-stability-of-the-gdr
Thomas, M. "Germany – Life in East Germany, 1949-89 – How important was repression for the stability of the GDR?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Feb 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/germany-life-in-east-germany-1949-89/how-important-was-repression-for-the-stability-of-the-gdr