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Title: The East German Revolution of 1989
Author: Dale, Gareth
ISNI:       0000 0000 7366 831X
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis analyzes the causes and processes of the East German revolution of 1989. The first half explains the demise of the USSR and its East European allies in terms of their insertion into a changing global environment. A Marxist explanation is given of the economic and social decay of East European ‘Communism’ in general and of East Germany in particular. The latter state was characterized by two fundamental contradictions. The first was between its economic nationalist form and the developing internationalization of the world economy. The second was between the attractive power of the economically superior West and the GDR’s dependence upon the USSR. East Germany’s rulers, despite being uniquely grateful for Moscow’s ‘bear hug’, were also tempted to embrace the West. The East German economy became ever more entangled with and dependent upon Western businesses and states. Albeit to a lesser extent than their counterparts in Poland and Hungary, East Germany’s rulers found themselves seduced by the superior technologies, commodities, and economic structures of the West. They were torn between loyalty to orthodox Communism and to Moscow, and a tacit awareness of Western economic superiority. This contradiction was compounded when, under Gorbachev, the Kremlin ceased to be identified with Communist orthodoxy. The second half of the thesis is devoted to the revolution itself. The interaction between the regime’s reaction to the developing crisis and the mobilization of protest is examined. Among the questions addressed are why the SED was unable to prevent mass emigration and why the security forces were unable to crush the protests. In the context of a narrative of the protest movement three aspects are given particular attention. The first is the transformation of society. Over the course of some five months of weekly demonstrations in which millions participated, political institutions were transformed as well as other core features of social and political behaviour. Secondly, the importance of conscious deliberation, debate and strategy is emphasized. Detailed consideration is made of how people became conscious of the developing national crisis, how they scented the opportunity to protest, and how they acted to effect political change. Thirdly, the question of why a divergence developed between the ‘Citizens’ Movement’ and the rest of the movement is addressed. In particular the radicalization of the mass movement is examined, as are the strategies of the Citizens Movement and of the regime. Finally, the history of the overthrow of the forces of the old regime is narrated, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Supervisor: Roberts, G. Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: East Germany ; Revolution