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 German Reich (1935-1945).svg
1945–1949 Flag of Germany.svg
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Flag of the Soviet Union
Location of Soviet occupation zone Deutschland Besatzungszonen 8 Jun 1947 - 22 Apr 1949 sowjetisch.svg
Location of Soviet occupation zone
Soviet Occupation zone in red.
Capital East Berlin
Government Military occupation
Military governors
  1945–1946 Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (Military commander 8 May 1945 – 9 June 1945)
  1946–1949 Vasily Danilovich Sokolovsky
  1949 Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov
Historical eraPost-World War II
Cold War
   Surrender of Nazi Germany 8 May 1945
   German Democratic Republic established7 October 1949
   German reunification 3 October 1990
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 central Germany occupied by the Soviet Union from 1945 on, at the end of World War II. On 7 October 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which became commonly referred to as East Germany, was established in the Soviet Occupation Zone.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, over two decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

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 (present-day) eastern portion of Germany. 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.[ citation needed ]

Allied-occupied Germany post-World War II military occupation of Germany

Upon the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, the victorious Allies asserted their joint authority and sovereignty over 'Germany as a whole', defined as all territories of the former German Reich which lay west of the Oder–Neisse line, having declared the destruction of Nazi Germany at the death of Adolf Hitler. The four powers divided 'Germany as a whole' into four occupation zones for administrative purposes, under the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union respectively; creating what became collectively known as Allied-occupied Germany. This division was ratified at the Potsdam Conference. The four zones were as agreed in February 1945 by the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union meeting at the Yalta Conference; setting aside an earlier division into three zones proposed by the London Protocol.

Potsdam Agreement

The Potsdam Agreement was the August 1945 agreement between three of the Allies of World War II, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. It concerned the military occupation and reconstruction of Germany, its borders, and the entire European Theatre of War territory. It also addressed Germany's demilitarisation, reparations and the prosecution of war criminals.

The Soviet Military Administration in Germany was the Soviet military government, headquartered in Berlin-Karlshorst, that directly ruled the Soviet occupation zone of Germany from the German surrender in May 1945 until after the establishment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in October 1949.

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) merged to form the Socialist Unity Party (which later became the governing party of East Germany).

The Democratic Bloc was an association of political parties and organizations in the GDR.

National Front (East Germany) alliance of political parties and mass organisations in East Germany

The National Front of the German Democratic Republic was an alliance of political parties (Blockpartei) and mass organisations in East Germany, controlled by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, which stood in elections to the East German parliament, the Volkskammer.

Social Democratic Party of Germany political party in Germany

The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany.

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

Nazi concentration camps concentration camp operated by Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled before and during the Second World War. The first Nazi camps were erected in Germany in March 1933 immediately after Hitler became Chancellor and his Nazi Party was given control of the police by Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and Prussian Acting Interior Minister Hermann Göring. Used to hold and torture political opponents and union organizers, the camps initially held around 45,000 prisoners. In 1933–1939, before the onset of war, most prisoners consisted of German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of 'asocial' or socially 'deviant' behavior by the Germans.

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, usually referred to in English as East Germany. In 1952, the Länder were dissolved and realigned into 14 districts (Bezirke), plus the district of East Berlin.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

Brandenburg State in Germany

Brandenburg is a state of Germany.

Mecklenburg Historical region of Germany

Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The largest cities of the region are Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Wismar and Güstrow.

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.

Cold War State of geopolitical tension after World War II between powers in the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins with 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989 and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, which ended communism in Eastern Europe. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional wars known as proxy wars.

Joseph Stalin Soviet leader

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet politician. He led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Premier (1941–1953). While initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, he ultimately consolidated enough power to become the country's de facto dictator by the 1930s. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin helped to formalise these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies became known as Stalinism.

Stalin Note

The Stalin Note, also known as the March Note, was a document delivered to the representatives of the Western allied powers from the Soviet Occupation in Germany on March 10, 1952. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin put forth a proposal for a reunification and neutralization of Germany, with no conditions on economic policies and with guarantees for "the rights of man and basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, press, religious persuasion, political conviction, and assembly" and free activity of democratic parties and organizations.

"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

Related Research Articles

East Germany former communist country, 1949-1990

East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic, was a country that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. It described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state", and the territory was administered and occupied by Soviet forces at 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; as a result, West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR. It bordered West Germany to the west, Poland and the Czechoslovakia to the east and it lied between the Baltic Sea.

Yalta Conference

The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference, held from 4 to 11 February 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union for the purpose of discussing Germany and Europe's postwar reorganization. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference convened near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.

Bizone Joint zone of Britsh and US occupied West Germany

The Bizone or Bizonia was the combination of the American and the British occupation zones on 1 January 1947 during the occupation of Germany after World War II. With the addition of the French occupation zone on 1 June 1948 the entity became the Trizone. Later, on 23 May 1949, the Trizone became the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly known as West Germany.

Free State of Prussia former federated state of Germany between 1918 and 1947

The Free State of Prussia was a state of Germany from 1918 to 1947.

Republikflucht Defectors from East Germany

"Republikflucht" and "Republikflüchtling(e)" were the terms used by authorities in the German Democratic Republic to describe the process of and the person(s) leaving the GDR for a life in West Germany or any other Western country.

Administrative divisions of East Germany

The administrative divisions of the German Democratic Republic were constituted in two different forms during the country's history. The GDR first retained the traditional German division into federated states called Länder, but in 1952 they were replaced with districts called Bezirke. Immediately before German reunification in 1990, the Länder were restored, but they were not effectively reconstituted until after reunification had completed.

NKVD special camps were NKVD-run late and post–World War II internment camps in the Soviet-occupied parts of Germany from May 1945 to January 6, 1950. They were set up by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) and run by the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs MVD On 8 August 1948, the camps were made subordinate to the Gulag. Because the camp inmates were permitted no contact with the outside world, the special camps were also known as silence camps.

East German Cold War Propaganda

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.

The German People's Congress was an initiative of the SED and the participation of the bloc parties at the London Conference of Allied Foreign Ministers in November and December 1947. Delegates from all over Germany gathered for the first time on 6 December 1947 that entered together body. Their main demand was the key to a German government. The SED presented their all-German claim to the three people's congresses.

Peoples Control Commission (East Germany)

The Soviet Control Commission was a Soviet monitoring and management committee overseeing the leadership of the German Democratic Republic and was active between 10 October 1949 to 28 May 1953. Their legitimacy was justified in agreements that had been made by the victorious powers at the Potsdam Conference. After that, the military government transferred its functions for a transitional period to formally fine German administrative organs. It replaced the Soviet Military Administration in Germany, which had previously exercised the sole administrative authority in the Soviet zone of occupation. With the founding of the German Democratic Republic on 7 October 1949, the Commission was given the requirements to replace the military government. This meant, however, that the East German government could operate independently of the West. The Soviet Control Commission could always overrule the decisions of the commission in East Germany if the decision of the East German commission were considered at odds with the official Soviet policies. Local officials had little power to make decisions or revise the decisions made. They controlled both the government of the GDR and the state governments. It was considered the ultimate power of authority both in the Soviet zone and in the former GDR.

Merger of the KPD and SPD into the Socialist Unity Party of Germany event

The merger of the Communist Party of Germanyand the Social Democratic Party of Germanyinto the Socialist Unity Party of Germany occurred on 21 April 1946 in the territory of the Soviet occupation zone: it is also called the forced merger of the KPD and SPD. In the course of the merger, about 5,000 Social Democrats who opposed it were detained and sent to camps and jails.

The Ministry of Justice of the German Democratic Republic (German: Justizministerium der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik was established in 1949 in East Germany and dissolved in 1990. Its duties were subsequently taken up by the federal Ministry of Justice of the united Germany, and the justice ministries of the six new federal states. The Ministry was housed at 93 Dorothea Street, the former offices of the Weimar and Nazi Interior Ministry. It published the journal Neue Justiz.

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.

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