Remembering the German Democratic Republic: Divided Memory in a United Germany

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Collective Memory.

After the 'Socialist Spring'

Everyday Life. National Socialism. State Security.

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Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, The secret police tried to permeate these circles and to slow their spread, but in the second half of this decade, the trend was irreversible. More and more citizens submitted official requests to leave the country, others tried to flee through the Soviet Bloc countries, and in the autumn of , hundreds of thousands gathered for a non-violent demonstration against the regime.

The political leadership, which comprised mainly elderly members of the establishment who lacked an understanding of the changes of the time, found no suitable answers for the demands of the demonstrators, and in October , the Communist government fell to the pressure of the demonstrations. This time, in contrast to , the leadership in Moscow, headed by Michael Gorbachev, who advanced the reform of Communism perestroika , did not intervene. In the stream of events, the opening of the borders on the evening of November 9, , was almost unpreventable.

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During a press conference on various topics, one communist leader spontaneously declared the decision to enable citizens to travel throughout the world without limit. Following this, thousands of citizens at the border crossings in Berlin gathered, demanding they be opened. Ultimately, the soldiers of the border guard gave in and opened the gates to the west.

The opening of the borders changed the dynamics of the "quiet revolution": From November 9, growing numbers of demonstrators stopped calling for social changes in East Berlin: they now demanded unification with the Federal Republic. You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server.

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German reunification - a short history - DW Documentary

Sending mail failed please try again later. You have been sent an e-mail that will allow you to reset your password. Don't have an account? Furthermore, many West Germans tried to help East Germans to escape socialist Germany and if they were caught they were often additionally punished to very harsh sentences because of espionage. A special case were also the more famous citizens of the GDR who managed it to escape to West, often after they had been granted a visit to participate sport events or conferences in the West.

Remembering the German Democratic Republic : Divided Memory in a United Germany

Some of them were later killed by secret service commandos of socialist Germany to take revenge. Most of the East Germans who took the risk to escape did so due to political reasons including those who refused to join political engagement or an engagement with the security services of the GDR, others for personal and family or economic reasons. All in all, from to , about 3. Both, the harsh border regime built by the strict laws against free movement over the borders and the seemingly invincible border fortification on the one hand and the continuous stream of refugees from East Germany which prominently contributed to the ideological warfare between the systems made the German Wall to become such a strong symbol.

First, the Wall served the West as the most prominent symbol for Soviet tyranny and, due to the steady flow of refugees despite all attempts to stop them, also as another proof for the inferiority of the Soviet system. In then, the Wall and the border regime it represented became the symbol for the breaking down of the whole East German system when the country ultimately failed to regain control of the masses of migrants leaving the country via the opened borders in the East, especially in Hungary.

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Buckley, Jr. Dousset; A. Souquet; S. Links, , p. Lorey eds.

German reunification - Wikipedia

However, for the symbolic meaning of the inner-Korean border see the movie Joint Security Area by Park Chan- wook. The German-German Border Regime. Cross-border Migration Against the background of the law against escape from the Republic and the border protecting it, the migration of East German citizens to the West has to be distinguished.