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Faith, hope and apathy. Politics and Popular Opinion in Thuringia, 1945-1968

Allinson, Mark Andrew; (1997) Faith, hope and apathy. Politics and Popular Opinion in Thuringia, 1945-1968. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis investigates the interplay of social and political history in the Soviet Zone of Occupation of Germany/GDR between 1945 and 1968, taking Thuringia/Bezirk Erfurt as a case study. The thesis explores the changing nature of popular reactions to SED rule during this period, evaluates the nature and degree of regime stability achieved by 1968, and illustrates the methods which achieved this stability. An introductory chapter outlines Thuringia's political and social situation at the end of World War Two, and briefly comments on the emergence of the regional KPD, SPD and SED. The following chapter discusses how the rival political parties and the 'mass organisations' created by the SED were coopted to support the SED's self-proclaimed 'leading role'. However, these organisations were often inefficiently led, and their memberships indifferent or oppositional well into the 1960s. The second section illustrates the changing extent of SED hegemony through snapshots of popular opinion. Particular attention is paid to the initial postwar years, Stalin's death, the popular uprising of 1953, agricultural collectivisation (1960), the sealing of the GDR's borders (1961), and trends in the mid-1960s. The third section concentrates on church-state relations to illustrate the interplay between the SED's attempts at political dominance and popular responses. The concluding section examines responses to the ideological challenges of the constitutional debate and invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968). The thesis demonstrates that although some stability was attained by the mid-1950s, it depended more on the GDR's fixed external parameters than the SED's often inefficient rule. Outward conformity remained incomplete by the late 1960s. Ideological commitment also remained elusive, even among those responsible for perpetuating the system, and political challenges to the regime occurred in both 'normal' and 'crisis' years. Nonetheless, the high levels of conformist behaviour ensured the regime would not collapse for domestic reasons alone.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Faith, hope and apathy. Politics and Popular Opinion in Thuringia, 1945-1968
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099993
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