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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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East German Uprising

This is a collection of primary source documents related to the East German uprising of June 1953. The uprising started with a strike by East Berlin construction workers on June 16th. The next day it spread throughout East Germany and was violently suppressed by the Soviet Army. The documents in this collection are from Russian and German archives and cover the period between April 1952 and October 1953. There are memorandums, minutes of conversation, decrees, cables, and reports on the development during the uprising. Some documents in the collection refer to the Soviet military intervention, including the movement of troops and equipment by the Soviet Army. There are 14 cables from June 17th - the second day of the uprising, describing the situation and its development. Other documents refer to reactions to the uprising and its conclusion. (Image, Berlin, 1953)

  • June 06, 1953

    SED CC Politburo Minutes Discussing Moscow’s Directives for the New Course

    Self-critical attitude of the Politburo, organizational reform of Politburo and Secretariat policy toward labor methods

  • June 13, 1953

    Cable 5321, from Ambassador Reber in Bonn to US State, Washington

    Cable from Samuel Reber to U.S. Department of State Outlining U.S. Perspectives on Four-Power Talks

  • June 17, 1953

    Cable from SECSTATE Dulles to HICOG Bonn, 7:02 p.m. EST

    Secretary of State John F. Dulles requests full report of implementation of Infoguide Bulletins concerning East Berlin demonstrations. Dulles states that USG believes the demostration present an excellent propaganda value.

  • June 17, 1953

    Cable from Czechoslovak Mission in Berlin to Vaclav David, 1:45 PM

    The Czechoslovak Mission in Berlin described the proceeding of the demonstrations in East Berlin on 17 June 17.

  • June 17, 1953

    Report from V. Sokolovskii and L. Govorov in Berlin to N.A. Bulganin

    V. Sokolovskii and L. Govorov summarized the events taking place in East Berlin and the GDR on 17 June 1953.

  • June 17, 1953

    Situation Report from Andrei Grechko and Nikolai Tarasov to Nikolai Bulganin, received 6:30 p.m. Moscow Time (4:30 CET)

    Grechko and Tarasov describe how Soviet forces took back control over the situation in East Berlin and several other GDR cities in the afternoon of 17 June 1953.

  • June 17, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov in Berlin to N.A. Bulganin, 6:30 p.m.

    In the Soviets' view the situation in Berlin was improving as the principal gorvernment buildings were safe and were guarded by Soviet forces. Martial law has been declared in Magdeburg, Leipzig, Dresden, Halle, Goerlitz, and Brandenburg.

  • June 17, 1953

    Secret Radio Telegram from Vladimir Semyonov Providing Situation Report to Vyacheslav Molotov and Nikolai Bulganin

    Semyonov gave an account of the happenings on the morning of 17 June 1953 in East Berlin and the GDR emphasizing that the most serious situation was in the city of Goerlitz on the German-Polish border where some 30,000 destroyed SED offices, the prison, and the buildings of the security service and district committee.

  • June 17, 1953

    Situation Report from Vladimir Semyonov and Andrei Grechko to Vyacheslav Molotov and Nikolai Bulganin, 11:15 a.m.

    The current state of protests in East Germany, the number of people on strike, the presence of American soldiers and Soviet measures to dispel the protesters. They considered there was a possibility that the participants of a solidarity demonstration announced in West Berlin attempted to cross to East Berlin which might increase the danger.

  • June 17, 1953

    Telephonogram from Vladimir Semyonov and Marshal Vasilii Sokolovskii to Vyacheslav Molotov and Nikolai Bulganin Reporting on the Situation in East Berlin, as of 11:00 p.m. CET

    Cable to the Soviet leadership describing the situation in East Berlin after the imposition of the curfew. The cable reports that at least 700 people have been arrested in East Germany, 300 of which were in the Soviet sector of Berlin. East German police and Soviet troops have taken control of the border of East Berlin to prevent "provocateur elements" from entering the Soviet sector.

  • June 17, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov to N.A. Bulganin, 9:30 p.m.

    Soviet forces continued to restore order in Berlin and other cities and towns of the German Democratic Republic. The following numbers of people took part in the demonstrations: up to 15,000 in Magdeburg, up to 1,500 in Brandenburg, up to 1,000 in Oranienburg and Werder, up to 1,000 in Jena, 1,000 in Gera, up to 1,000 in Soemmerda, up to 10,000 in Dresden, up to 2,000 in Leipzig, 20,000 in Goerlitz. According to Soviet data, by 9:00. p.m., Moscow time, 50 people were killed or wounded in Magdeburg during the restoration of order. Three Germans were killed and 17 wounded in Leipzig. There have been no losses on the Soviet forces' side.

  • June 17, 1953

    Cable from the Czechoslovak Mission in Berlin to Foreign Minister Vaclav David, 4:30 p.m.

    Flash Cable from the Czechoslovak Mission in Berlin to the Czechoslovak Foreign Minister reporting on the situation in East Germany following the popular uprising. The cable reports workers asking for the formation of a new government and free elections. The cable also reports sporadic clashes between the demonstrators and the East German security forces and Soviet forces.

  • June 17, 1953

    Cable from Cecil Lyon to the State Department Reporting on Afternoon Meeting of the Western Commandants, 9:00 p.m. (CET)

    Lyon reports developments in Berlin and measures taken by the British, French, and American CDT’s to maintain order in West Berlin. decision to restrain the use of Allied military forces unless a widespread disturbance occurs in the West.

  • June 17, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov in Berlin to N.A. Bulganin, 11:00 p.m.

    The demonstrations in Berlin and several other cities had been stopped. Grechko and Tarasow came to the conclusion that "the provocation was prepared in advance, organized, and directed from Western sectors of Berlin." The losses of the strikers in the whole territory of the GDR had been: 84 people killed and wounded, 700 men arrested.

  • June 17, 1953

    Cable 1670, from Berlin to SECSTATE

    Cable from Cecil Lyon to U.S. Department of State Relaying Minutes of the First Meeting of the Western Military Commandants in Berlin, 6:00 p.m. CET.

  • June 17, 1953

    Report from V. Semenov and A. Grechko (Berlin-Karlshorst) to V. Molotov and N. Bulgannin

    The report is about the situation in Berlin towards the close of 16 June. The initial reason for the construction workers protesting was the raising of the output quotas in the Berlin construction industry.

  • June 17, 1953

    Situation Report from Vladimir Semyonov and Andrei Grechko to Vyacheslav Molotov and Nikolai Bulganin, 7:26 a.m.

    Vladimir Semyonov and Andrei Grechko were reporting on the situation in Berlin towards the close of 16 June.

  • June 17, 1953

    Psychological Strategy Board Memorandum from John M. Anspacher to George A. Morgan

    Additional suggestions for US sponsored courses of action with regard to the popular uprising in East Germany and East Berlin. While the State Department (GER) did not include these suggestions in the press guidance paper prepared, GER officers suggested several additional ideas during conversation, which were included in the memorandum.

  • June 18, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov to N.A. Bulganin, 2:30 p.m.

    The authors state that Berlin was calm, but there were a few demonstrations in some smaller GDR cities. The authors referred to military intelligence information according to which the US 7th Army and the 12th Air Force Army were put on alert in the US zone at 5.30 a.m. on June 18. But the alert state for the 7th Army was canceled after three hours.

  • June 18, 1953

    Report from Andrei Grechko and A. Tarasov in Berlin to Nikolai Bulganin, 1:00 p.m.

    Grechko and Tarasov report on the calm state of Berlin. Some attempted riots and demonstrations have occurred in other cities throughout the GDR, but have been suppressed by the Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany. Intelligence information suggests that US forces have been put on alert at this time.