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By sianr10 Feb 23, 2014 812 Words
How far do you agree that the actions of the USSR were primarily responsible for the division of Germany in 1949? The immediate post-war period in Germany in 1945 resulted in the establishment of a divided Germany into two separate states in 1949. After the war, Germany was split into four zones and split up among Britain, USA, France and the USSR. Tensions between the Western and Eastern Allies arose within the years prior to the division, largely due to the actions taken by Stalin and the USSR. I feel that the primary cause for the division of Germany was due to these actions which encouraged the different zones to react in ways which heightened the tensions, resulting in a knock-on effect of events which gradually resulted in the division. The first major source of tension started when the USSR went against agreements made in the Potsdam Conference of July 1945. It was agreed upon that the payment to the Allies for war damage would be taken in the form of machinery and industrial equipment rather than financial penalties, however Russia did not forget how they were treated by Germany at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918 and it is estimated that up to a quarter of all industrial goods were transferred from the Eastern Zones to the USSR. This caused friction between the powers and when the USSR failed to provide food and raw materials to the Western Zones in return for industrial resources, further tension built up; especially as this lack of consistency to the agreements led to food shortages in the Western Zones. This action is one of the many made by the USSR which could be considered as a main cause as it was the start of the tension However the action made by the USA and Britain to create ‘Bizonia’ in January 1947 also caused a lot of unsettlement between the powers. The creation of ‘Bizonia’ was where America and Britain merged their zones in order to improve the efficiency of the economy. In the aspect of economy, this idea proved effective and it improved greatly, however this made the reuniting of Germany much less likely. This also made the USSR hostile towards them and after a London conference in late 1947 the USSR argued that they were in breach of the agreements made in Potsdam. This uniting of the Western zones led to currency reform in June 1948 where the new currency ‘Deutschmark’ was introduced to indicate the close co-operation between them. The Soviet Union also introduced a new currency, meaning that the Western and Soviet zones were developing into two very different political and economic systems. The currency reform and creation of these zones led to the USSR responding with the Berlin Blockade from June 1948 to May 1949. Since the setting up of Bizonia, the USSR had increasingly obstructed routes to West Berlin and the full blockade meant that the entire civilian population had to be supplied by air. Stalin’s aim was to force the Western Allies to relinquish their zones in Berlin and for it to then join East Berlin as one integrated state under Soviet control. The blockade forced the USA to launch the Berlin Airlift, which symbolised the Western defending against the Eastern zones and also got rid of many of the fears that the Western Allies would abandon them. The Berlin Airlift made the division of Germany almost inevitable and following the blockade the Western powers decided to coordinate their armed forces which laid the early foundations of NATO. An action by the USSR which caused unrest was the setting up of COMINFORM, an organisation whose aim was to co-ordinate the policies and strategies of the various socialist political parties throughout the eastern zone. This organisation caused the Western zones to respond with the announcement of the Marshall Plan in the summer of 1947. The Marshall Plana aimed to prevent the spread of communism which was a threat from the East. It also helped stabilise Germany and gave the impression that they were no longer punishing Germany but rebuilding it. The plan saw support for Communism decrease dramatically and Stalin responded with the organisation of COMECON but was unable to match the levels of financial aid to the Eastern bloc which the USA could offer to Western Europe. Ultimately it is clear that the division of Germany was primarily the fault of the actions of the USSR. The initial action of going against the agreements made in the Potsdam Conference caused tension between the Allies and in return resulted in many events such as the knock on effect demonstrated by the setting up of COMNIFORM, the Marshall Plan and COMECON Although without the USSR’s actions alone there would still have been issues with the zones, for example the setting up of Bizonia, there would not have been as much unsettlement which is what encouraged thee actions to take place.

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