A Glimpse of Freedom: Allied Occupation and Political Resistance in East Germany

70 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2020

See all articles by Luis R. Martinez

Luis R. Martinez

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Jonas Jessen

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Free University Berlin

Guo Xu

University of California, Berkeley

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

This paper studies costly political resistance in a non-democracy. When Nazi Germany surrendered in May 1945, 40% of the designated Soviet occupation zone was initially captured by the western Allied Expeditionary Force. This occupation was short-lived: Soviet forces took over after less than two months and installed an authoritarian regime in what became the German Democratic Republic (GDR). We exploit the idiosyncratic line of contact separating Allied and Soviet troops within the GDR to show that areas briefly under Allied occupation had higher incidence of protests during the only major episode of political unrest in the GDR before its demise in 1989 - the East German Uprising of 1953. These areas also exhibited lower regime support during the last free elections in 1946. We argue that even a “glimpse of freedom” can foster civilian opposition to dictatorship.

Keywords: East Germany, political resistance, protest, autocracy, spatial RDD, World War II

JEL Classification: F51,H10,N44,P20

Suggested Citation

Martinez, Luis and Jessen, Jonas and Xu, Guo, A Glimpse of Freedom: Allied Occupation and Political Resistance in East Germany (April 2020). DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 1863, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3576438 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3576438

Luis Martinez

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Jonas Jessen (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstr
58
Berlin
Germany

Free University Berlin ( email )

Germany

Guo Xu

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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