The Fall of Communism in East Germany
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Politics and Activism

The Fall of Communism in East Germany

The fall of the Berlin Wall is an event the world will always remember.

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The Fall of Communism in East Germany

The end of communism in East Germany was a result of a number of different factors- from economic anxieties and political issues to social disbelief in the system itself. Before the collapse of communism in the state, there was a "golden period" in East Germany between the years of 1960s-1980s, in which the economy was relatively successful and citizens were able to make enough to live rather than just survive. In this period of time, the ideals of Marx were the most present in the economic structure of the state, as well as the culture of the society at large.

In the 1970s-1980s, however, communism in East Germany also experienced an underlying decline in both the effectiveness of the economic and political structures. This led to a steady decline in the popularity of the communist system as a whole among the people, as they realized the extent of their lack of Western facets of life. The people's longing for the greener pastures of West Germany, and the West in general, led to the eventual unraveling of communism in the GDR. This was manifested most clearly in East German citizens longing for lives different from their own. The people of East Germany"...wanted a better life and they blamed socialism and the Communist Party for the fact that they could not get it" (1, Kopstein). In the wake of an economic crisis, the 1980s in East Germany were the tipping point in the public's opinion of communism. Between the economy not measuring up to West Germany or the West as a whole and the people's desire for materialistic items and political freedoms, the people lost their faith in the regime. The ideology of Marxism in East Germany proved to be interpreted and implemented effectively for a period of time, before the economic decline and lack of citizen support. Marxism at its center is a system that must have the people's backing, as it is supposed to be the "dictatorship of the proletariat." As the control of East German citizens by the government was realized by the people themselves, the proletariat's support waned. This proved how difficult it is to have a truly Marxist, or socialist, society.

In East Germany, Marxist ideology, while it was attempted at, lacked the same structure and intentions in actual play in that state that Karl Marx had envisioned. One huge example of the disparity between Marxist ideology and the German Democratic Republic's actuality was the Berlin Wall. Standing for over 20 years, the wall was "...both the most potent symbol of the GDR's lack of freedom and a reminder of how difficult it was to construct a humane socialist society" (110, Kenney). While the establishment of communism in East Germany would not be considered the beginnings of a Marxist society, with a foreign power- the Soviet Union- beginning the regime in the state, the end of the regime could be considered Marxist in nature.

Kopstein, Jeffrey. "The Politics of Economic Decline in East Germany, 1945-1989." University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Kenney, Padraic. "A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989." Princeton University Press, 2003.

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