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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany


East Germany: A Country Study supersedes the edition published in 1982. The intervening five years have witnessed several significant changes in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Until 1984 Western observers labeled East Germany as the Soviet Union's most loyal ally. That year East Germany entered into a dispute with the Soviet Union over General Secretary Erich Honecker's plan to visit the Federal Repubic of Germany (West Germany). This dispute led to open disagreements between the East Germans and the Soviets over whether small states should attempt to function as a bridge between East and West. Despite this disagreement, since 1982 East Germany has come to play an increasingly important role as the Soviet Union's "junior partner" in the Warsaw Pact and as a conduit for Soviet military and foreign policy objectives in the Third World. East Germany also has become an increasingly important regional military power; officially, the country's defense budget has risen over 30 percent since 1980. During these same years, an organized dissident movement, in large measure sponsored by the Lutheran Church, has emerged in an attempt to stem the rising militarization of East German society.

Although this study contains much material from the 1982 edition, it is basically a new book. Like the previous volume, this study attempts to present the dominant social, economic, political, and national security aspects of East Germany. Sources of information included books and scholarly journals, official reports of governments and international organizations, foreign and domestic newspapers, and conference papers and proceedings. The authors have emphasized the use of foreign language sources to a greater extent than in the past. Chapter bibliographies appear at the end of the book, and a brief annotated bibliographic note on sources recommended for further reading appears at the end of each chapter. Measurements are given in the metric system; a conversion table is provided to assist those readers who are unfamiliar with metric measurements (see table 1, Appendix A). A glossary is also included.

German words that have become relatively common in English usage and are included in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, e.g., autobahn, blitzkrieg, have not been italicized and, if nouns, not capitalized.

The origin of the word German is not known. Julius Caesar, Tacitus, and other Romans wrote about Germania (as the Romans called it) and peoples known as Germani, but the tribal peoples themselves to which the name was applied did not universally use the term. Sometime between the eighth and eleventh centuries A.D., the peoples referred to by others as Germani began referring to themselves as diutisc, an early form of the word deutsche, which eventually became translated into English as the word German.

The first article of the East German Constitution states: "The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state of workers and peasants." Because confusion often arises with respect to the use of the words socialist and communist, a note of caution is in order concerning their use in this book. Those countries that people in the West generally refer to as communist consistently describe themselves as socialist, making the claim that they are working toward communism, which Karl Marx described as a more advanced historical stage than socialism. In this book, socialism and socialist are generally used in the East German sense as in the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, and that usage should not be confused or in any way equated with the democratic socialism of several West European and other countries.

Data as of July 1987