1949: One Year, Two Germanies
I found this documentary intriguing mainly because it contradicts nearly all the brainwashing I received in public school at the height of the anti-Soviet Cold War. Among other new facts I learned
- In the early post war period, there were socialist and communist Germans fleeing the Western zones (occupied by US, UK, and French military), as there were anti-Communists fleeing East Germany.*
- The Soviets and East Germans vigorously campaigned for a unified Germany, with Berlin as capitol. They were opposed by Western allies determined to create a separate West German state (presumably for the same reason the US insisted on creating two Koreas and two Vietnams – ie to enhance US control over the region).
- The East German Socialist Unity Party invited West German members to their first party conference, which was primarily concerned with lingering German antisemitism, ultra-nationalism and fascism.
- The East Germans blockaded trade to West Berlin (in the Eastern zone), when despite vigorous Soviet and East German opposition, the Allied occupiers created a separate West German currency (that threatened to collapse the East German economy). The blockade was lifted once West Germany adopted a constitution and elected a Parliament, president, and chancellor.**
*German communists and socialists were terrified of the new government of Allied occupied Germany, mainly owing to the brutal persecution they had received under the Third Reich (eg arrest, torture, extrajudicial assassination, and imprisonment in concentration camps).
**The Allies used the blockade to score a major propaganda coup, instituting an “airlift” of food and other consumer goods to West Berlin (with the implication that the East German government was depriving them of food and other necessities).