Henrik Bispinck: “So what’s wrong with Stalin now?” The Twentieth Congress of the CPSU and the mood of the population in the GDR

Abstract

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.

Über den Autor

Henrik Bispinck, Dr. phil., geb. 1973 in Münster. Studium der Neueren/Neuesten Geschichte und Germanistik in Münster, Edinburgh und an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2000 bis 2007 wiss. Mitarbeiter am Institut für Zeitgeschichte München – Berlin, 2008 Promotion an der Universität Leipzig, 2008 bis 2010 wiss. Referent bei Gegen Vergessen – Für Demokratie e.V., seit 2010 wiss. Mitarbeiter in der Abteilung Bildung und Forschung beim BStU, Lehrbeauftragter an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Veröffentlichungen u. a.: Bildungsbürger in Demokratie und Diktatur. Lehrer an höheren Schulen in Mecklenburg 1918–1961, München 2008; Mithg.: Republikflucht. Flucht und Ausreise aus der SBZ/DDR 1945/49–1961, München 2006; Aufstände im Ostblock. Zur Krisengeschichte des realen Sozialismus, Berlin 2004; Bearb.: Die DDR im Blick der Stasi 1977. Die geheimen Berichte an die SED-Führung, Göttingen 2012.