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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: Uprising in the Soviet sector in Berlin. Tanks used by the Soviet occupying powers to suppress the unrest in Schützenstrasse.)

  • 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.

  • June 18, 1953

    Telegram from Cecil Lyon to John Foster Dulles, Reporting on Developments in Berlin

    In a telegram following the recent uprising in East Germany, Lyon reports from Berlin that there is currently no reported action in East Berlin, and the inner city is now completely controlled by Soviet troops and police with orders that no one may enter or leave the Soviet sector.

  • June 18, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov to N.A. Bulganin, 11:00 a.m.

    Grechko and Tarasov report that Berlin is now peaceful and measures are being taken to stop demonstrations in other East German cities.

  • June 18, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov in Berlin to N.A. Bulganin, 12:00 a.m.

    Cable reporting that "Berlin is calm", but "there are still some strikes and rallies within some plants in the German Democratic Republic."

  • June 18, 1953

    Report, Anton Plenikowski, 'Events in the Apparatus of the Local Government Agencies'

    Plenikowski reports on municipal councils and local officials who participated in the uprising.

  • June 18, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov to N.A. Bulganin, 8:00 a.m

    Soviet General, Tarasov, reports on the situation in the GDR and in the city of Berlin on the morning of 18 June, 1953. He primarily discusses the location and movements of sectors of the Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany.

  • June 18, 1953

    Secret Telephone Report by V. Semenov and V. Sokolovski in Berlin to V. M. Molotov, 18 June 1953, Morning

    On June 18th the Soviets began actively to include German organizations and SED party organizations to restore order in Berlin. At 9:30 a.m. at the Brandenburg gates, employees of the people's police of the GDR were fired upon from the direction of West Berlin. The people's police fired several shots in return, as a result of which one West Berlin policeman was killed.

  • June 18, 1953

    CIA Current Intelligence Review Analyzing the Communist 'New Look in East Germany' and 'Recent Unrest in Eastern Europe'

    A CIA report discusses new policy modification in East Germany following the East German Uprising. It is reported that measures are being taken by the regime to relieve political and economic tension and to improve the quality of life in East Germany. This includes shifting the some of the production of heavy machinery to the production of consumer goods. The report also reviews details on recent social unrest in Eastern Europe.

  • June 19, 1953

    CIA Current Intelligence Digest 'Comment on Berlin Rioting'

    According to the CIA report, as of the 19th of June, the situation in East Berlin has been repressed by Soviet troops and the East German police, and inter-sector traffic is strictly controlled. However, in other areas of East Germany, strikes and disturbances are still being reported.

  • June 19, 1953

    Telephonogram from V. Semenov and V. Sokolovskii in Berlin to V. Molotov and N. Bulganin (1), 19 June 1953, 1:20 a.m (Moscow Time)

    V. Semenov and V. Sokolovskii recognized that the state and party organs of the GDR were taking measures to restore the normal organization of work at all enterprises in East Berlin.

  • June 19, 1953

    Telephonogram from V. Semenov and V. Sokolovskii in Berlin to V. Molotov and N.A. Bulganin (3), 19 June 1953, 5:35 p.m.

    Semenov and Sokolovskii described the alleged capture of infiltrating parachutists in the night of 17 June.

  • June 19, 1953

    Secret Telephonogram from V. Semenov and V. Sokolovskii to V. Molotov and N. Bulganin (2), 19 June 1953, 7:50 p.m.

    V. Semenov and V. Sokolovskii stated that in Berlin all enterprises were working at normal capacity and life in Berlin was proceeding normally.

  • June 19, 1953

    Secret Telephonogram from V. Semenov and V. Sokolovskii in Berlin to V. Molotov and N.A. Bulganin (1), 19 June 1953, Midnight

    According to Semenov and Sokolovskii the mood of the populace had improved. They reported that the commandants of the Western sectors of Berlin had issued a decree to the effect that any demonstrations in West Berlin could only take place after receiving permission from the commandants. The need for this decree was based on the situation which has arisen and on the preservation of security and order.

  • June 19, 1953

    Polish Ministry of State Security Action Memoranda, to Regional Branches Outlining Steps to be Taken to Limit Spillover of Events in East Germany

    The Polish Ministry of State Security orders all district heads to take measures to limit spill-over effects of the East German uprising. Regional offices are instructed to increase surveillance of ethnic Germans and “revisionist” elements.

  • June 19, 1953

    Telephonogram from V. Semenov and V. Sokolovskii in Berlin to V. Molotov and N.A. Bulganin, 19 June 1953 (2)

    According to V. Semenev and V. Sokolovskii there were small remnants of strikes in some comparatively minor points throughout the Republic. In the provinces of the GDR there was also evidence of the dispatch of American agents from West Berlin and West Germany.

  • June 19, 1953

    National Security Council Report, NSC 158, 'United States Objectives and Actions to Exploit the Unrest in the Satellite States'

    Recommendations adopted by the National Security Council at the suggestion of the Psychological Strategy Board on covert actions to be undertaken in the Soviet Satellite States. Authorized by the National Security Council, NSC 158 envisaged aggressive psychological warfare to exploit and heighten the unrest behind the Iron Curtain. The policy was endorsed by President Eisenhower on June 26, 1953.

  • June 19, 1953

    Report, I. Fadeikin to V.D. Sokolovskii

    Fadeikin reported that the situation in the GDR was improving. As brought to light by then, the strikes were a protest against the 10% rise in output quotas that the GDR government had declared at some GDR industry enterprises on May 29-30. They continued on June 6-7. The construction workers on Stalinallee in Berlin started saying that they did not agree with the new output quotas and would declare a strike if needed. The central leadership of the Free German Trade Union [League] and the SED CC knew about such feelings and opinions among working class people on June 15. Fadeikin accused the GDR leadership not to have undertaken timely preventive measures. Fadeikin concluded from secret service and official information that some SED members took an active part in the delays and strikes.

  • June 19, 1953

    CPCz Information Bulletin on Czechoslovak Reaction to the Events in East Germany

    The Czechoslovak Communist Party reports the reaction of the Czechoslovak public to the recent East German Uprising. Regional and demographic differences are discussed.

  • June 19, 1953

    Minutes of Discussion at the 150th Meeting of the National Security Council, 18 June 1953

    The US National Security Council discusses recent release of prisoners of war in South Korea. The riots and disturbances in East Germany and Czechoslovakia are discussed in the context of the general “softening” of Soviet policy. The Council also discusses the possibility of a four-power meeting, and other alternative courses of action.

  • June 20, 1953

    Report from A. Grechko and Tarasov to N.A. Bulganin, 11:40 a.m.

    Grechko and Bulganin stated that enterprises in Berlin had resumed their routine operations since the morning of 20 June. But they also admitted that there were still some strike movements.