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1. To what extent did economic factors accelerate the demise of the GDR?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the extent to which economics factors accelerated the demise of the GDR, focusing in particular on: (i) the nature of the East Germany economy – a planned economy rather than a market economy; (ii) the superficial strength of the East Germany economy in the 1970s; (iii) the underlying weaknesses of the East Germany economy – high government spending on health and welfare, over-reliance on imports for raw materials, lack of consumer good; (iv) the extent to which these weaknesses were exposed in the 1980s: rising energy prices, rising debt; (v) the strategies put in place to help the economic situation, e.g. turn to lignite (brown coal), removal of crude oil and derived products from internal markets to be sold on the world market, etc.; and (vi) the impact of these economic strategies: underinvestment in certain sectors and a decline in productivity, a lack of basic goods and the emergence of a black market, social tensions between those who had access to foreign currency and who could buy high-quality consumer goods and those who did not, and an increase in emigration to the West.
In this course, Professor Anna Saunders (University of Liverpool) explores the final decade of communist rule in East Germany, through six key questions: (1) To what extent did economic factors accelerate the demise of the GDR?; (2) To what extent were Gorbachev’s policies responsible for the collapse of communist rule in East Germany?; (3) To what extent was the Protestant church significant in the collapse of communism in the GDR?; (4) To what extent did external influences contribute to the collapse of the GDR?; (5) How important was popular dissent in bringing about the demise of the GDR?; and (6) How accurate is it to say that Helmut Kohl was the main driver of reunification?
Anna Saunders is Professor of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool. She specialises in the history and memory of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and in questions of memorialisation and the performance of memory in the built environment. Her recent publications include Memorializing the GDR: Monuments and Memory after 1989 (2018) and Honecker's Children: Youth and Patriotism in East(ern) Germany, 1979-2002 (2007).
Cite this Lecture
Saunders, A. (2021, February 22). Germany – The Decline of the GDR, 1980-90 - To what extent did economic factors accelerate the demise of the GDR? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/germany-the-decline-of-the-gdr-1980-90/to-what-extent-did-economic-factors-accelerate-the-demise-of-the-gdr
Saunders, Anna. "Germany – The Decline of the GDR, 1980-90 – To what extent did economic factors accelerate the demise of the GDR?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Feb 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/germany-the-decline-of-the-gdr-1980-90/to-what-extent-did-economic-factors-accelerate-the-demise-of-the-gdr