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Why did the German Democratic Republic last for so long--longer, in fact, than the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich combined? This book looks at various political, social, and economic conflicts at the grass roots of the GDR in an attempt to answer this question and account for regime stability. A local study, it examines opposition and discontent in Saalfeld, an important industrial and agricultural district. Based on previously inaccessible primary sources as well as on interviews with local residents, the book offers a novel explanation for the durability of the regime by looking at how authorities tried to achieve harmony and consensus through negotiation and compromise. At the same time, it shows how official policies created deep-seated social cleavages that promoted stability by hindering East Germans from presenting a united front to authorities when mounting opposition or pressing for change. All of this provides an indirect answer to perhaps the major question of the postwar period: Why did the Cold War last as long as it did?Read more
- Original argument explaining the stability of the German Democratic Republic
- Examination of state-society and social relations at the grass roots
- Vivid portrait of everyday life under state socialism
- Winner of the 2013 DAAD Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in German and European Studies
Reviews & endorsements
"Andrew Port's exquisitely written history of the East German southern industrial town of Saalfeld in the Ulbricht era, based on a dizzying array of sources from fifteen German archives, is the latest in a series of books on the German Democratic Republic that seek to explain the relative stability of the regime....Port's nuanced argument on the nature of rule in East Germany presented in this meticulous, elegant work should be taken into account in all future work on the GDR."
- H-German, Gary Bruce, Department of History, University of WaterlooSee more reviews
"...Andrew Port has written a pathbreaking work without which no valid judgement can be made in the future about the social development of the GDR." -Gerhard Wettig, Deutschland Archiv
"This fully researched, richly documented, and well-written study is a welcome addition to understanding grassroots East German history. Summing Up: Highly recommended." -Choice
"...Port’s book makes a vital, original, and possibly even pathbreaking contribution to GDR scholarship. It deserves a wide readership." -Bill Niven, Central European History
"Andrew I. Port’s insightful book joins a growing number of studies that focus not on the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) inevitable end but on its durability." -Paul Steege, American Historical Review
“…original insights… innovative achievement… not only debunks the enduring legend of the East German _Notgemeinschaft_ (‘community created by necessity’), but also provides an additional explantion for the, at first glance, puzzling stability of the GDR” -Hermann Wentker (Director, Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte, Munich/Berlin) in Sehepunkte
"Port, in sum, lays out a multi-dimensional structural argument about the sources of socialist stability." -Donna Harsch, German History
"In this exemplary case study, Port skillfully exploits the rich trove of archival materials deposited by the extinct German Democratic Republic (gdr)." -Steven Pfaff, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Port provides a compelling and eloquently written argument which brings us closer to understanding the precarious stability of the GDR and the highly nuanced internal workings of the regime." -Anna Saunders, Slavonic and East European Review
"Well-written and superbly researched, it’s one I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in East German studies.... This excellent book, one of the best I’ve read on this subject, presents a whole new picture of East German society and politics..." -Henry Coningsby, WATERSTONE'S WATFORD
"...highly original and important book...[A] powerful work of history that vividly reconstructs both the experiences and attitudes of East Germans in the regime's first two decades and also the possibilities and limits of the SED state's transformation of the economy and society." -Charles Lansing, German Studies Review
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- Date Published: October 2008
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521744171
- length: 326 pages
- dimensions: 234 x 156 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.46kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. Upheaval (1945–53):
1. Creating a 'new order'
2. The GDR's 'first strike'
3. The revolution manqué of June 1953
Part II. The Calm after the Storm (1953–71):
4. The limits of repression
5. Exit, voice, and apathy
6. Power in the people's factories
7. Achieving harmony on the shop floor
8. Divide and rule?
9. 'I comes before we' in the countryside
10. 'Whatever happened to the classless society?'
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