East Germany, 1958–90 Edexcel IGCSE Teaching Resources

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Paper 2: Investigation Studies, East Germany, 1958-90

What students need to learn:

  • The Berlin Wall crisis, 1958–63 
    • The origins of the Wall – the refugee problem and its impact on the GDR. The influence of Ulbricht and Khrushchev. The impact of the Wall on East Berliners, security and escapes. 
  • Stabilisation and control: the GDR, 1962–87 
    • Causes and nature of economic stabilisation, including ending emigration; the New Economic System and Economic System of Socialism (1962–71); the role of Comecon. Economic problems in the 1980s, including welfare overspends and poor quality goods. The nature of state control, including the role of the Stasi, the extent of control of the young, religion and the church. Propaganda and censorship. Extent of support for and opposition to the GDR. Relations with the Eastern bloc, including the Soviet Union. 
  • Life in the GDR – social change, 1962–87 
    • Daily life, including the provision of employment, housing, education and welfare. The changing role of women. Honecker and the development of a GDR identity; mass media; the importance of sport. 
  • Ostpolitik – relations with the Federal Republic, 1969–87 
    • Relations with West Germany: Ostpolitik and its impact, the agreements of 1970–72; the relaxation of travel restrictions and increased communication with the FRG, impact on the GDR’s economy and standard of living. International recognition of the GDR; state visits. 
  • The Peaceful Revolution, 1987–90 
    • The influence of Gorbachev, including on the protest movements. Key events of 1989, border openings with Hungary and Austria, Gorbachev’s visit in October, the decline of Honecker, Krenz and the opening of the Berlin Wall. The immediate causes of the end of the GDR (1989–90), the collapse of the SED government and the elections of March 1990, the reunification of East and West Germany (March–October 1990).

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