The 1953 Uprising


In June 1953, in a desperate attempt to catch up with West Germany, Ulbricht ordered an increase in the number of hours laborers in such industries as construction had to work each week, with no increase in wages .Frustration at raised production demands and hopes for reforms with the death of Stalin in 1953 led to demonstrations and riots by June 17, 1953.Thousands gathered at Alexanderplatz in east Berlin. Police sent to break up the rioters joined them instead. The rioters broke into jails and released political prisoners. The riots soon involved an estimated 10% of the countries workers .


The east German army was unwilling or unable to put down the rioters  and Soviet troops stationed in Germany suppressed the riots. demonstrations by disgruntled workers broke out in East Berlin. The next day the protests spread across East Germany with more than a million on strike and demonstrations in 700 communities. Fearing revolution the government requested the aid of Soviet occupation troops and on the morning of the 18th tanks and soldiers were dispatched who dealt harshly with protesters. The result were an estimated 5-~800 deaths and a wave of arrests and jail sentences numbering over 10,000. After the uprising, the power of the Stasi was greatly increased so such an uprising could not happen again .



Video of the 1953 uprising


poem Die Lösung (The Solution) by East German  poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht about the uprising



After the uprising of the 17th of June


The Secretary of the Writers Union


Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee


Stating that the people


Had thrown away the confidence of the government


And could win it back only


By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier


In that case for the government


To dissolve the people


And elect another?



Uprising In East Germany 1953

The volume is the first documented account of this early Cold War crisis from both sides of the Iron Curtain. Based on the recent unprecedented access to the once-closed archives of several member states of the Warsaw Pact, this collection of primary-source documents presents one of the most notorious events of post-war European history in a highly read .

Effects of the 1953 Rebellion

The fundamental lesson learned by the new Soviet leader Khrushchev was that the Soviet revolution imposed on the German people had not been accepted and the severe reparations were causing too much of a strain .For the Ulbricht government the result was what was called the ' third purge.' Over 12,000 were dismissed from the People's Police for unreliability. The internal police, the Stasi, was to be made much stronger to prevent such a rebellion from happening again. Wilhelm Zaisser, head of the Stasi, was replaced by Erich Mielke .






The Birth of East Germany 1949


The Berlin Wall  1961