Completing the Building of Socialism, 1953–61

  • Martin McCauley
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)


The New Course imposed by the Soviet leadership and the June 1953 uprising forced the SED to become more flexible in its battle to build socialism. This led to heated discussions in the Politburo about which policies should be adopted. These differences continued until 1958 when Walter Ulbricht emerged as the victor. He was concerned to follow Soviet practices closely and this led to many changes of course. His opponents favoured policies more in tune with the peculiar needs of the GDR. Put another way, Ulbricht wished to retain the Stalinist schema as far as the official ideology was concerned whereas his opponents wanted to reduce the gap between Stalinist ideology and reality. Both German states received their sovereignty in 1955 but both were dependent on their respective Great Power. Khrushchev’s attack on Stalin at the twentieth congress of the CPSU in February 1956 was unwelcome to many ears in the Soviet Union and in the socialist bloc. The events in Poland and Hungary stopped de-Stalinisation for a time and made it easier for Ulbricht, who was a reluctant de-Staliniser, to prevent any serious discussion of the SED’s past mistakes. In the GDR the process was restricted to denouncing the cult of the personality and the arbitrary use of force.


German Democratic Republic Socialist Country Foreign Minister Peace Treaty Collective Farmer 
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© Martin McCauley 1983

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  • Martin McCauley

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