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Legitimation, Repression and Co-optation in the German Democratic Republic

Grashoff, UR; (2015) Legitimation, Repression and Co-optation in the German Democratic Republic. In: Ideocracies in Comparison – Legitimation, Cooptation, Repression. Routledge Green open access

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Abstract

The communist party in the German Democratic Republic claimed governmental legitimacy for being the builder of an anti-fascist state on the way to communism. The simulation of parliamentarism also played a role and, for a short period of time in the 1960s, the co-optation of technocrats. In the 1970s and 1980s Erich Honecker's welfare policy was the pivotal strategy of legitimation. However, the political system always required a considerable amount of repression. In the Soviet Occupation Zone and the early GDR repression was characterized by Stalinist terror: internment camps, military courts, and harsh punishment. Rigorous repression in 1952/53 and 1960/61 complemented attempts to accelerate the socialist revolution (normative legitimacy ). From 1949 to 1989 a gradual mitigation of repression took place, but not steadily. Relaxation in watersheds such as in 1956, 1963, and 1971 came to a halt in 1960, 1965, and 1976 ff. Nevertheless, more lenient times of repression brought irreversible mitigations. Especially in the 1970s and 1980s open terror was replaced by less visible forms of repression. Co-optation of non - communists played a marginal role in the history of the GDR. In the early phase it was nothing but a phase-out model. Later on co-optation was by and large a recruitment process under the control of the SED, which generated a homogeneous elite selected by its fidelity to the socialist state.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Legitimation, Repression and Co-optation in the German Democratic Republic
ISBN: 1138848859
ISBN-13: 9781138848856
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://extremism-and-democracy.com/book-series/
Language: English
Additional information: Publication is planned for autumn 2015. This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1466264
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