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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.)

Popular Documents

December 11, 1953

National Security Council, NSC 174, Draft 'United States Policy Toward The Soviet Satellites In Eastern Europe'

This report by the National Security Council discusses Soviet control over Eastern Europe, barriers to Soviet control of the satellites, and the power threat that consolidation poses to the United States. As a result, the NSC recommends that United States pursue a policy of resistance towards Soviet domination of its Eastern European satellites, and should impose pressure and propaganda to weaken Soviet influence.

July 1, 1953

Letter from Lavrentiy Beria to Georgii Malenkov Reflecting on the Events of Spring 1953 (Excerpt)

Letter from Beria to Malenkov discussing the events which took place in East Germany in the spring of 1953. Beria also discusses his actions after Stalin's death, asking for the forgiveness of the CPSU CC Politburo.

April 7, 1952

Conversation between Joseph V. Stalin and SED leadership

The second conversation between Stalin and the SED leadership during their trip to Moscow in April 1952. Stalin discusses the political and military situation in East Germany and asks about the status of economic development in the GDR. The SED delegation asks Stalin to approve the transfer of raw materials to East Germany.

March 11, 1953

Memorandum of Discussion at the 136th Meeting of the National Security Council

The US National Security Council discusses the effect that Stalin’s death had on Soviet policy and on Communist Parties outside of the USSR, as well as the opportunity it provided the US to use Stalin’s death in a psychological strategy to influence the Soviets. The Council also discusses the possibility of negotiations for a settlement with the Soviets in Korea.

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.