East German Cold War Propaganda

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After the end of World War II Germany was separated into nation-states. Each nation-state was governed by a different country because officials could not agree on peace terms. The Soviet Union had claimed the eastern portion of the country. In 1947, the "German People's Congress for Unity and Just Peace" met in Berlin. The Congress was to take the demands of all the occupied zones, and create a peace treaty which would enact a centralized German government. In order to have their nation-state properly represented, the Soviets created the German Democratic Republic in 1949 when they officially approved their constitution in May.

Contents

A map of occupied Berlin. Occupied Berlin.svg
A map of occupied Berlin.

Purpose

The purpose of propaganda in the German Democratic Republic was to maintain the Soviet ideology of socialism. Through various forms of propaganda, such as posters, pamphlets and speeches, the Soviet Union censored the ideas of the allied forces and the outside world from the citizens of Eastern Germany. [1] News published in the GDR was intended to inform the East German public of how current events fitted into "the overall pattern of historical necessity", with news editors specifically instructed by the government to extract "from every item of news its possible relevance to the global struggle between capitalism and communism". [2]

The GDR's propaganda also sought to portray the United States of America and other countries of the West, and especially its neighbour and main rival West Germany, in a negative light. For example, in 1950, the GDR published claims that the United States was sabotaging potato crops in East Germany by airdropping Colorado potato beetles onto crops. [3] However, it has been claimed that the GDR's state newspaper, Neues Deutschland , failed to reach much of the East German population. [4]

Media

Media for East German propaganda during the Cold War played a very significant role in the persuasion and ideologies of the East German people at this time. The types of media that were most prevalent in their propaganda efforts were posters, pamphlets, tabloids, and speeches.

Posters

Posters during the Cold War focused primarily on depictions of Stalin and his positive effects on East Germany. The information on the posters was used to convince the German people that the institutions of the Soviet Union would perpetuate a peaceful socialist society. Many other posters were used to depict the allied forces in a negative light, this form of propaganda was generated to make the Germans dislike the ally outsiders.

Pamphlets

The German Democratic Republic created pamphlets to promote a socialist and peaceful way of life to those living in Eastern Germany. These pamphlets were dropped in the Federal Territory of East German zones in large "propaganda rockets" and small "metal coconuts", along with "occurrence reports" that documents the times they were sent and 'outside occurrences' to spread their news in an innovative, creative and far reaching way. The "propaganda rockets" allowed for more people to be exposed the information over a large geographic scale. [ citation needed ]

Tabloids

The German tabloids during the cold war were used as media source to entertain and inform the working class with pictures, articles and news that highlighted the successes of the East German society. East German Cold War Tabloids & Propaganda

Speeches

There were many influential leaders and intellectuals during the Cold War in East Germany. Speeches were made in order to persuade the people to fall in line with the socialist movement and the leaders of the Soviet Union. These speeches, along with the propaganda aforementioned helped to convince the German people that socialism and the German Democratic Republic would remain intact.

Related Research Articles

East Germany Socialist state in Central Europe from 1949–1990

East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic, was a country that existed from 1949 to 1990, the period when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Commonly described as a communist state in English usage, it described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state". It consisted of territory that was administered and occupied by Soviet forces following the end of World War II—the Soviet occupation zone of the Potsdam Agreement, bounded on the east by the Oder–Neisse line. The Soviet zone surrounded West Berlin but did not include it and West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR.

Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology and the main communist movement throughout the 20th century. Marxism–Leninism was the formal name of the official state ideology adopted by the Soviet Union, its satellite states in the Eastern Bloc and various self-declared scientific socialist regimes in the Non-Aligned Movement and Third World during the Cold War as well as the Communist International after Bolshevisation. Today, Marxism–Leninism is the ideology of several communist parties and remains the official ideology of the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam as unitary one-party socialist republics and of Nepal in a people's multiparty democracy. Generally, Marxist–Leninists support proletarian internationalism, socialist democracy and oppose anarchism, fascism, imperialism and liberal democracy. Marxism–Leninism holds that a two-stage communist revolution is needed to replace capitalism. A vanguard party, organised hierarchically through democratic centralism, would seize power "on behalf of the proletariat" and establish a communist party-led socialist state, which it claims to represent the dictatorship of the proletariat. The state would control the economy and means of production, suppress the bourgeoisie, counter-revolution and opposition, promote collectivism in society and pave the way for an eventual communist society, which would be both classless and stateless. As a result, Marxist–Leninist states have been commonly referred to by Western academics as communist states.

Socialist Unity Party of Germany Communist political party and ruling state party of the GDR

The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, often known in English as the East German Communist Party, was the governing Marxist–Leninist political party of the German Democratic Republic from the country's foundation in October 1949 until its dissolution after the Peaceful Revolution in 1989. The party was established in April 1946 by the merging of the Communist Party of Germany and Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Soviet Empire Informal term referring to the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation as a colonial state or imperialist foreign policy

Soviet Empire expresses a political term used in Sovietology to describe the actions and nature of the Soviet Union, as a state, similar to those of a colonial empire.

Constitution of East Germany Constitution of the German Democratic Republic

The Constitution of East Germany refers to the constitution of the German Democratic Republic, commonly known as East Germany. Its original constitution was promulgated on 7 October 1949. It was heavily based on the "Weimarer Reichsverfassung", such that the GDR would be a federal and democratic republic. In 1968 the East German government adopted a new constitution that was based on Marxism-Leninism, political unitarism, and collective leadership. There were further amendments to the 1968 constitution in 1974. With the political events of 1989, there were attempts to draft a new constitution for East Germany, but these efforts never materialized due to the dissolution of East Germany and the accession of its Lander into the neighboring Federal Republic.

East German uprising of 1953

The East German uprising of 1953 was an uprising that occurred in East Germany from 16 to 17 June 1953. It began with a strike action by construction workers in East Berlin on 16 June against work quotas during the Sovietization process in East Germany. Demonstrations in East Berlin turned into a widespread uprising against the Government of East Germany and the Socialist Unity Party the next day, involving over one million people in about 700 localities across the country. Protests against declining living standards and unpopular Sovietization policies led to a wave of strikes and protests that were not easily brought under control and threatened to overthrow the East German government. The uprising in East Berlin was violently suppressed by tanks of the Soviet forces in Germany and the Kasernierte Volkspolizei, while demonstrations continued in over 500 towns and villages for several more days before dying out.

Leadership of East Germany

The political leadership of East Germany was in the hands of several offices.

Soviet occupation zone Zone of Soviet occupation in postwar Germany

The Soviet Occupation Zone was an area of Germany occupied by the Soviet Union as a communist area at the end of World War II in 1945. On 7 October 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly referred to in English as East Germany, was established in the Soviet Occupation Zone.

Peaceful coexistence was a theory developed and applied by the Soviet Union at various points during the Cold War in the context of primarily Marxist–Leninist foreign policy and was adopted by Soviet-allied socialist states that they could peacefully coexist with the capitalist bloc. This was in contrast to the antagonistic contradiction principle that socialism and capitalism could never coexist in peace. The Soviet Union applied it to relations between the western world, particularly between the United States and NATO countries and the nations of the Warsaw Pact.

East German jokes, jibes popular in the former German Democratic Republic, reflected the concerns of East German citizens and residents between 1949 and 1990. Jokes frequently targeted political figures, such as Socialist Party General Secretary Erich Honecker or State Security Minister Erich Mielke, who headed the Stasi secret police. Elements of daily life, such as economic scarcity, relations between the GDR and the Soviet Union or Cold War rival, the United States, were also common. There were also ethnic jokes, highlighting differences of language or culture between Saxony and Central Germany.

Revolutions of 1989 Global righter revolutionary wave annihilating communism in most parts of the world from 1988 to 1993

The Revolutions of 1989 formed part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the end of communist rule throughout the world, including in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The period is often also called the Fall of Communism and sometimes called the Fall of Nations or the Autumn of Nations, a play on the term Spring of Nations that is sometimes used to describe the Revolutions of 1848. These revolutions started with the Polish workers' mass strike movement on 21 April 1988, and ended when Cambodia enacted a new Constitution, in which Communism was abandoned, on 24 September 1993.

Communist propaganda Promotion of the ideology of communism

Communist propaganda is the artistic and social promotion of the ideology of communism, communist worldview and interests of the communist movement. While it tends to carry a negative connotation in the Western world, the term "propaganda" broadly refers to any publication or campaign aimed at promoting a cause and is/was used for official purposes by most communist-oriented governments. The term may also refer to a political parties opponents campaign. Rooted in Marxist thought, the propaganda of communism is viewed by its proponents as the vehicle for spreading their idea of enlightenment of working class people and pulling them away from the propaganda of who they view to be their oppressors, that they claim reinforces exploitation, such as religion or consumerism. Communist propaganda therefore stands in opposition to bourgeois or capitalist propaganda.

History of East Germany Overview of East Germany

The German Democratic Republic (GDR), German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), often known in English as East Germany, existed from 1949 to 1990. It covered the area of the present-day German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, and Thüringen. This area was occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, with the remaining German territory to the west occupied by the British, American, and French armies. Following the economic and political unification of the three western occupation zones under a single administration and the establishment of the German Federal Republic in May 1949, the German Democratic Republic was founded on 7 October 1949 as a sovereign nation.

East German literature is the literature produced in East Germany from the time of the Soviet occupation in 1945 until the end of the communist government in 1990. The literature of this period was heavily influenced by the concepts of socialist realism and controlled by the communist government. As a result, the literature of the German Democratic Republic was for decades dismissed as nothing more than "Boy meet Tractor literature", but its study is now considered a legitimate field. Because of its language, the literature is more accessible to western scholars and is considered to be one of the most reliable, if not the most reliable, sources about East Germany.

Iron Curtain Term symbolizing the ideological-political conflict and physical boundary dividing Europe during the Cold War

The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West and its allied states. On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union, while on the west side were the countries that were NATO members or nominally neutral. Separate international economic and military alliances were developed on each side of the Iron Curtain. It later became a term for the 7,000-kilometre-long (4,300 mi) physical barrier of fences, walls, minefields, and watchtowers that divided the "east" and "west". The Berlin Wall was also part of this physical barrier.

Vera Lengsfeld German politician

Vera Lengsfeld is a German politician. She was a prominent civil rights activist in East Germany and after the German reunification she first represented the Alliance '90/The Greens and then the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the Bundestag.

Der Rat der Götter is an East German black-and-white film, directed by Kurt Maetzig. It was released in 1950.

<i>Schaut auf diese Stadt</i>

Schaut auf diese Stadt It is an East German movie directed by Karl Gass in 1962. It's a subtle propaganda film in which peaceful East Germany depicts West Germany as the forefront to neo-fascism, terrorism, and neo-colonialism. East Germany requires an "anti-fascist defense" against the West Germans. It depicts the city of Berlin following the end of World War II and the struggle between the split between democracy and communism. The film uses authentic footage from newsreels and images from both sides to convey the justification of the resurrection of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961.

War against the potato beetle

The war against the potato beetle was a campaign launched in Warsaw Pact countries during the Cold War to eradicate the Colorado potato beetle. It was also a propaganda operation that alleged that the insect was introduced into East Germany, the People's Republic of Poland and Communist Czechoslovakia by the United States as a form of entomological warfare. Communist propaganda of the time claimed that the insect was being dropped from parachutes and balloons, with the intent of immiserating the populations of these countries, causing famines, and facilitating an economic crisis.

People's democracy was a theoretical concept within Marxism–Leninism and a form of government which developed after World War II and that allowed in theory for a multi-class, multi-party democracy on the pathway to socialism. People's democracy was considered "a form of political organization of society established in a number of European and Asian countries as a result of the people’s democratic revolutions of the 1940’s."

References

  1. Dennis, Mike (27 November 2000). The Rise and Fall of the German Democratic Republic 1945-1990. Routledge. pp. 3–4. ISBN   978-0582245624.
  2. Sandford, John (May 1984). "The Press in the GDR: Principles and Practice". In Bartram, Graham; Waine, Anthony (eds.). Culture and Society in the German Democratic Republic. Dundee: GDR Monitor. p. 30. ISBN   978-0947799014.
  3. Burns, Lucy (3 September 2013). "The great Cold War potato beetle battle". BBC Online . Retrieved 26 February 2016.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. Allinson, Mark (23 March 2000). Politics and Popular Opinion in East Germany, 1945-1968. Manchester University Press. p. 71. ISBN   978-0719055546.