In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2016. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 253–266.
Khrushchev’s revelations of Stalin's crimes at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in February 1956 shook the entire Communist bloc and parties – including the German Democratic Republic. While the SED leadership feared for their power and many party members were confused, the rejection of Stalin and the anticipation of liberalisation aroused high hopes in broad sections of society. Existing research has assumed that the critique of Stalinism in the GDR was mostly undertaken by intellectuals and the party elite, while workers and employees took little notice. However, based on the Stasi’s mood reports (Stimmungsberichte) this article shows that all sections of society – workers, employees and the rural population – were attracted by the debate. The SED leadership was aware of criticism of the party as well as being faced by concrete demands for higher wages and better working conditions.