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East Germany: 1945 – 1955

Soviet military tribunals as the basis
of a new dictatorship

Leistikowstrasse Memorial Site ©Friedemann SteinhausenEven after Germany's surrender that ended the Second World War, the ”state of war“ formally continued to persist. According to the Soviet military court order, special camps were built in the Soviet zone of occupation and military tribunals were used. Exact figures are still not available, an estimated 30.000 – 50.000 Germans were prosecuted by these courts until 1955. Mainly Nazi and war crimes, violations against the occupation regime, criminal offenses and counter-revolutionary crimes were condemned.

From 1946 on, the suspicion of forming an opposition as well as the suspicion of espionage and agent activities have been increasingly pursued. The practice of the Soviet investigations was characterized by prejudgments. In most cases, evidence was omitted and the use of torture was self-evident. Those concerned suffered interrogation under duress and had to sign protocols written in Russian. There was no use of interpreters. Even death sentences were imposed and enforced.

Denazification and Stalinism in the Soviet zone of occupation formed the basis for a new dictatorship on the territory of the subsequent GDR. The GDR was characterized by repressive measures right to the end, measures which affected all areas of life and the everyday life of the population, oppressing all forms of resistance.

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