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East Germany

The Soviet Military Administration

The day after the formal German surrender, the Soviet commander established the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (Sowjetische Militäradministration in Deutschland--SMAD) to govern the Soviet occupation zone. Headquartered in Berlin-Karlshorst, the SMAD was the Soviet occupation authority until its functions were handed over to the Soviet Control Commission on October 7, 1949, the day on which the German Democratic Republic was founded.

The Yalta and Potsdam agreements entered into by the Soviet Union, Britain, and the United States called for Germany's complete disarmament. Not only would no German ground, sea, or air forces capable of military action be created, but also no industrial capability to support such forces would be permitted. Police forces were to be local and decentralized.

Almost from the beginning of the occupation, the Communist Party of Germany, headed by Walter Ulbricht, began to assume civil authority. In the process of constructing a socialist system in the country, the party looked for political reliability as the principal qualification for leadership, even at the expense of competence. Initially, at least, reliability was measured primarily by a person's anti-Nazism. Not all persons selected were communist or of working-class background. None, however, were anticommunist. To ensure their reliability, the German Administration of the Interior, which later became the Ministry of the Interior, was established by the SMAD. The supervision of the police forces--reorganized on the basis of the five existing states of the Soviet zone--was a prime objective of the new German Administration of the Interior.

At the same time that the police forces were being reorganized, the system of justice underwent a similar and much more stringent restructuring. All judges, prosecutors, and lawyers who had Nazi connections were summarily removed from office. Because the Nazis had dominated the legal system, this meant virtually a clean sweep. To fill the void, members of the legal profession who had retired before 1933 were pressed into temporary service. For a longer term solution, people with anti-Nazi and preferably working-class backgrounds were trained in intensive law courses, lasting six to nine months, run by the Soviet Army.

Data as of July 1987