Soviet occupation zone

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Soviet occupation zone of Germany
Sowjetische Besatzungszone Deutschlands
Military occupation zone of the Soviet Union part of Allied-occupied Germany
Flag of the Soviet Union (1924-1955).svg
Deutschland Besatzungszonen 8 Jun 1947 - 22 Apr 1949 sowjetisch.svg
The Soviet occupation zone in red
Capital East Berlin
Government
  TypeMilitary occupation
Military governors 
 1945–1946
Georgy Zhukov
 1946–1949
Vasily Sokolovsky
 1949
Vasily Chuikov
Historical eraPost-World War II
Cold War
8 May 1945
  German Democratic Republic established
7 October 1949
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of German Reich (1935-1945).svg Nazi Germany
East Germany Flag of Germany.svg
Today part ofFlag of Germany.svg  Germany

The Soviet Occupation Zone (German : Sowjetische Besatzungszone (SBZ) or Ostzone; Russian : Советская оккупационная зона Германии, Sovetskaya okkupatsionnaya zona Germanii, "Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany") was the area of Germany occupied by the Soviet Union 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.

1949 Soviet visa from occupied Germany in a Polish service-passport. 1949 Soviet visa from occupied Germany.jpg
1949 Soviet visa from occupied Germany in a Polish service-passport.

The SBZ was one of the four Allied occupation zones of Germany created at the end of World War II. According to the Potsdam Agreement, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (German initials: SMAD) was assigned responsibility for the middle portion of Germany. Eastern Germany beyond the Oder-Neisse line, equal in territory to the SBZ, was to be annexed by Poland and its population expelled, pending a final peace conference with Germany [1]

By the time forces of the United States and Britain began to meet Soviet forces, forming a Line of contact, significant areas of what would become the Soviet zone of Germany were outside Soviet control. After several months of occupation these gains by the British and Americans were ceded to the Soviets, by July 1945, according to the previously agreed upon occupation zone boundaries.

The SMAD allowed four political parties to develop, though they were all required to work together under an alliance known as the "Democratic Bloc" (later the National Front). In April 1946, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) were forcibly merged to form the Socialist Unity Party which later became the governing party of the GDR.

The SMAD set up ten "special camps" for the detention of Germans, making use of some former Nazi concentration camps.

States (Lander) of the Soviet zone and later also the GDR until 1952:
Mecklenburg
Brandenburg
Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony
Thuringia States in German Democratic Republic 1949 - 1952 colored 02.svg
States (Länder) of the Soviet zone and later also the GDR until 1952:
   Mecklenburg
   Brandenburg
   Saxony-Anhalt
   Saxony
   Thuringia

In 1945, the Soviet occupation zone consisted primarily of the central portions of Prussia. After Prussia was dissolved by the Allied powers in 1947, the area was divided between the German states (Länder) of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. On 7 October 1949, the Soviet zone became the German Democratic Republic. In 1952, the Länder were dissolved and realigned into 14 districts (Bezirke), plus the district of East Berlin.

In 1952, with the Cold War political confrontation well underway, Joseph Stalin sounded out the Western Powers about the prospect of a united Germany which would be non-aligned (the "Stalin Note"). The West's disinterest in this proposal helped to cement the Soviet Zone's identity as the GDR for the next four decades.

"Soviet zone" and derivatives (or also, "the so-called GDR") remained official and common names for East Germany in West Germany, which refused to acknowledge the existence of a state in East Germany until 1972, when the government of Willy Brandt extended a qualified recognition under its Ostpolitik initiative.

See also

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Saxony-Anhalt (1945–1952)

The State of Saxony-Anhalt was a subdivision of the Soviet occupation zone and state of East Germany which corresponds widely to the present-day German state Saxony-Anhalt. After the retreat of the US troops from the Western parts - following the agreements of the Yalta Conference - it was formed as administrative division called Province of Saxony by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) in July 1945. The province was a re-establishment of the Province of Saxony which existed in Prussia from 1816 to 1944. On 1 July 1944, the Province of Saxony was divided along the lines of its three government districts of Halle-Merseburg, Magdeburg and Erfurt. The two provinces became part of the new state including small parts of Thuringia (Allstedt) and Soviet-occupied parts of Anhalt (Dessau) and Brunswick. Following the first election for the Landtag in October 1946, the state was renamed to Province of Saxony-Anhalt on the same day. With the abolition of Prussia in February 1947, it was named State of Saxony-Anhalt. Compared to the administrative divisions of Nazi Germany, it comprised the Gaue Magdeburg-Anhalt, Halle-Merseburg and small parts of Southern Hanover-Brunswick and Thuringia.

Mecklenburg (1945–1952) state of East Germany

The State of Mecklenburg was a subdivision of the Soviet occupation zone and one of the states of East Germany which corresponds widely to the present-day German state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The state was originally formed as an administrative division, the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) in July 1945. It consisted of the 1934-established Mecklenburg and parts of the former Prussian provinces of Pommern and Hanover. The city of Swinemünde was handed over to Poland in October 1945, becoming part of Szczecin Voivodeship. In November 1945, a transfer of small territories along the Inner German border to the former Province of Schleswig-Holstein was carried out as part of the Barber–Lyashchenko Agreement. About 2.1 million people were estimated to live in Mecklenburg in 1946. From 1947, the term Vorpommern was excluded from the official name as the SMAD feared that this would support revisionist actions against formerly German parts of Poland. Compared to the administrative divisions of Nazi Germany, Mecklenburg comprised the Gaue Mecklenburg and parts of Pomerania and Eastern Hanover.

Brandenburg (1945–1952) former state of the German Democratic Republic

The State of Brandenburg was a subdivision of the Soviet occupation zone and state of East Germany which corresponds widely to the present-day German state Brandenburg. The state was originally formed as administrative division Province of March Brandenburg by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) in July 1945, a re-establishment of the Prussian Province of Brandenburg, excluding the Eastern parts behind the Oder–Neisse line to Poland. With the abolition of Prussia in February 1947, it was named State of March Brandenburg but in June 1947 the SMAD forced to change the name to State of Brandenburg. In August 1945, a transfer of territory was ruled out between Allied-occupied Berlin. Compared to the administrative divisions of Nazi Germany, it comprised the Western part of the Gau March Brandenburg and small parts of Berlin.

References

  1. Geoffrey K. Roberts, Patricia Hogwood (2013). The Politics Today Companion to West European Politics. Oxford University Press. p. 50. ISBN   9781847790323.; Piotr Stefan Wandycz (1980). The United States and Poland. Harvard University Press. p. 303. ISBN   9780674926851.; Phillip A. Bühler (1990). The Oder-Neisse Line: a reappraisal under international law. East European Monographs. p. 33. ISBN   9780880331746.