Soviet occupation zone

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Soviet occupation zone and Soviet sector of Berlin from June 8, 1947

The Soviet Zone of Occupation ( SBZ ), Soviet Zone or Eastern Zone ( colloquially also known as the Zone ) was one of the four zones of occupation into which Germany was divided by the victorious Allied powers of the Second World War in 1945 following the Yalta Conference . The central German states of Saxony and Thuringia , the province of Saxony-Anhalt , a large part of the province of Brandenburg as well as belonged to the SBZMecklenburg and Western Pomerania . This did not include the German eastern territories , which were to be administered by Poland and the Soviet Union until a peace agreement was reached. The only exceptions were initially the areas around Stettin and Swinoujscie to the west of the actual Oder-Neisse border , which were initially still part of the Soviet Zone due to the unclear future border demarcation. As part of the resolutions of the Potsdam Agreement, the areas were spun off from the Soviet Zone a few months after the end of the war. So initially the Szczecin area was separated from the Soviet Zone on July 5, 1945 and placed under Polish administration. On October 6, 1945, the city of Swinoujscie was handed over to the Polish administration. On October 7, 1949, the SBZ became the territory of the newly founded German Democratic Republic (GDR).


The abbreviation SBZ was also mostly used instead of the abbreviation GDR in the first decades of the Federal Republic of Germany after 1949 during the Cold War . The federal governments of the time did not want to recognize the existence of an East German state. Many West Germans used (partly with connotation , partly because it was common usage) terms such as “SBZ”, “Soviet Zone”, “East Zone” or “Zone”. This gradually changed in the 1970s (see also, for example, New Ostpolitik , Basic Treaty ). In the 1970s, some newspaper publishers often put the term "GDR" in quotation marks . Some Axel Springer- Verlag newspapers did this until the summer of 1989.

The GDR was up to the task of the claim to sole representation of the Federal Republic, in part, of using the 1970 addition, in books Bertelsmann -Verlages referred to in the official and common usage of the West German population continues to as "Central Germany" because officially - to a peace treaty - the Areas east of the Oder and Lusatian Neisse were under the administration of the Polish state and northern East Prussia around Königsberg under which the Soviet Union stood, so under international law these states were not (yet) territories and continued until the two-plus-four treaty with Germany as a whole belonged.

Remnants of this use of the term could be found for years after the end of the GDR, for example in the concept of the zone border area , the support of which was regulated in the Zone Border Promotion Act until its repeal in 2006, and still exist today in the term of the Soviet zone refugee . According to the Federal Expellees Act, this status could be given to a person who left the GDR before July 1, 1990.

Likewise, the name Interzonenzug remained practically throughout the history of the GDR.

In 1945, the year of the surrender

With the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht on May 8, 1945 , National Socialist Germany was defeated and the Second World War ended in Europe.

Several of the Central Committee's initiative groups , which were controlled by the Soviet Union, had returned to Germany from exile in the Soviet Union before the end of the war. In addition to the Ulbricht group , led by Walter Ulbricht , the later head of state and party leader of the GDR, which started its activities around May 1st in Bruchmühle near Strausberg , there was the Ackermann-Matern group in Dresden and the Sobottka group in Warsow near Stettin . These groups were supposed to create German self-government organs under communist leadership with broad participation of “bourgeois anti-fascist ” circles. Another group around Wilhelm Pieck followed in the first days of June .

Occupation zones in Austria

The main allies of the anti-Hitler coalition , the United Kingdom , the United States and the Soviet Union , and later France , took over by the Berlin Declaration on 5 June officially the supreme authority in the German Reich , presented the four occupation zones or Berlin, the four sectors firmly and formed the Allied Control Council . The Danube and Alpenreichsgaue of the German Empire were again divided into Austria and also into four Allied occupation zones, including an SBZ. The imperial territories to the east ( East Germany ) were placed under temporary Polish and Soviet administration (today 's Kaliningrad Oblast ). In accordance with the Yalta Declaration , the USA and Great Britain withdrew their troops from the areas designated as the Soviet Zone (western Mecklenburg , Saxony-Anhalt , Thuringia , western Saxony ) in the period from July 1st to 4th and moved into the areas for them in return reserved western sectors of Berlin.

Between May and September 1945, the secret police of the Soviet NKVD set up a total of ten so-called special camps in the Soviet Zone. By 1950, at least 122,000 Germans were imprisoned there without trial or judgment. Thousands of them were deported to the Soviet Union for forced labor. At least 42,000 people were killed in the Soviet special camps.

On June 9, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD), based in Berlin-Karlshorst, took over government power in the Soviet Zone.

Countries in the Soviet Zone:
  •  Mecklenburg
  •  Brandenburg
  •  Saxony-Anhalt
  •  Saxony
  •  Thuringia
  • The first territorial and political subdivision of the Soviet Zone took place in June 1945 with the establishment of the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony and Thuringia with their own state governments and provincial administrations in the former Prussian provincial parts of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Order No. 45 of October 22, 1945 granted the administrations of the five federal states or provinces the right to legislate if they were in agreement with the control directives. In September, the Wanfried Agreement resulted in an exchange of territory between the Soviet and US occupation zones. This affected the Bebra - Göttingen rail link . Part of the Eichsfeld came to the American zone and later to Hesse. The Barber-Lyaschtschenko Agreement resulted in a further exchange of territory in November, this time between Mecklenburg and Schleswig-Holstein, which is part of the British occupation zone .

    The number command. 1 of 9 June 1945 concerning the organization of the military administration to manage the Soviet occupation zone led in Germany Soviet Military Administration , later only Soviet military one. General Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov was appointed Supreme Chief of the Soviet Military Administration , his first deputy Army General Vasily Danilowitsch Sokolowski , and Colonel-General Ivan Alexandrowitsch Serov was appointed as Deputy Chief of Civil Administration. Chief of Staff was Colonel General Vladimir Vasilyevich Kurassow , the seat or location was the city of Berlin.

    With Order No. 2 of June 10th, SMAD allowed the formation of parties and unions. The KPD was founded a day later . Other parties such as the SPD , CDU and LDP followed by the beginning of July. On June 13th, the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB) was constituted. Parties had previously been dissolved, such as the “Workers' Party”, which was founded in Thuringia as a unified socialist party made up of old communists and social democrats. On July 14th, the Democratic Bloc was formed from the KPD, SPD, CDU and LDP. He transformed the party system in the Soviet Zone into a united front of anti-fascist-democratic parties.

    The German People's Police was founded on July 1st ; she was armed on October 1st with approval from SMAD.

    Another order of the SMAD of July 23, 1945 initiated a reorganization of the finance, banking, savings and insurance systems. An order that was not issued publicly at the same time confirmed the seizure of funds and funds from financial and credit institutions, which had already been carried out on May 8th.

    In August 1945, the German Central Administration for National Education (DZfV) was formed in Berlin by order No. 17 of the SMAD of July 27, 1945 . The most urgent task of the DZfV was the establishment of an anti-fascist , secular and socialist school and education system. Because of the extensive dismissal of Nazi-exposed teachers, the selection and training of suitable new teachers was of particular importance. The DZfV was an important instrument for the organization and introduction of the single socialist school in the Soviet Zone. The cultural, popular education and higher education systems were redesigned according to Soviet guidelines. The SMAD introduced a strict system of pre-censorship in the Soviet Zone ( see also: Pre-censorship ). So-called “ people's judges” were installed in courts .

    From September 3rd to 11th, the provincial and state administrations in the Soviet Zone issued ordinances to implement land reform in Germany . Landowners who owned more than 100 hectares were expropriated without compensation. With the help of order 124 of the SMAD and actions of the sequester commission, all large industrial companies were expropriated and transferred to so-called " public property ". May to July: Around 460 Berlin companies fell victim to the first wave of dismantling . This corresponded to around 75 percent of the capacities still available at the time.

    In the sense of reparations policy , war loot and trophy campaigns were appropriated, dismantling , expropriation of industrial plants and other assets, the establishment of Soviet trading companies, the removal of products from ongoing production and forced labor from prisoners of war and civil internees in the USSR . The reduction in capacity in individual branches of industry was 15 to 100%.

    For further development


    On March 7th, the Free German Youth (FDJ) was founded. The first groups had already existed in exile , but the new leadership did not refer to them. Groups of the FDJ were also founded in the western occupation zones, but they were banned in the later Federal Republic in 1951.

    The KPD and SPD joined forces on the 21/22, under considerable pressure from the SMAD on the SPD. April to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Wilhelm Pieck (KPD) and Otto Grotewohl (SPD) were elected chairmen.

    On April 23, the first edition of the daily newspaper Neues Deutschland appeared as an organ of the SED party executive .

    The referendum in Saxony on June 30, 1946 approved the expropriation of large landowners , war criminals and active NSDAP members without compensation .

    On July 30, the German Interior Administration (DVdI) was formed to coordinate the police in the Soviet Zone. The previous state police chief of Thuringia, Erich Reschke , became president of the DVdI . Erich Mielke , Willi Seifert and Kurt Wagner became vice-presidents .

    In the elections for the regional and district assemblies in the Soviet Zone on October 20, the SED did not achieve the desired absolute majority with 47.5%. (Province of Mark Brandenburg 44%, State of Saxony 49%, Province of Saxony-Anhalt 46%, State of Mecklenburg 50%, State of Thuringia 50%. In the city and district council elections in Greater Berlin, the SPD led with 63 and the SED with 26 seats .)

    More than 2000 engineers were brought to the Soviet Union with their families in October 1946 as part of the " Operation Ossawakim " in order to work on military developments ( nuclear and missile technology ) and to reveal German scientific achievements.

    On December 1, the Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) ordered the establishment of the German Border Police (DGP) in the Soviet Zone.


    On April 1, the Soviet military administration ordered the establishment of the German Treuhandstelle to manage the confiscated property of Nazi and war criminals .

    The order of the Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) 138/47 of June 4th instructed the establishment of the German Economic Commission (DWK) as the first central administrative body of the Soviet occupation zone and thus institutionalized the restructuring of the economy.

    On August 16, SMAD Order 201 was issued to denazify and completely purge all public offices and the economy "from active fascists, militarists and war criminals".

    The Second Party Congress of the SED took place from September 20 to 24 .

    On 6./7. December met in East Berlin one initiated by the SED, not legitimized by democratic elections People's Congress for Unity and just peace, the first German People's Congress .

    On December 20, 1947, the SMAD deposed the democratically elected party executive of the CDU and thus achieved the transformation of the Union into a bloc party .


    The SMAD order 35/48 of February 26th led to the dissolution of the denazification commissions in the Soviet occupation zone. The denazification was officially completed on March 10th. In total, over half a million people had been removed from government agencies and government agencies.

    The second German People's Congress in East Berlin on 17./18. March agreed to appoint a German People's Council , which was commissioned to draw up a constitution for a German Democratic Republic for all of Germany . This began its work on March 19, chaired by Wilhelm Pieck (SED), Wilhelm Külz (LDP) and Otto Nuschke (CDU). Its committee for drafting a constitution was headed by Otto Grotewohl.

    In the course of the worsening East-West conflict in the German policy of the victorious powers , the representatives of the Soviet Union left the Allied Control Council on March 20 in protest against the London Six Power Conference , which was thus incapable of working.

    The German Economic Commission (DWK) decided on May 5 to set up a committee for the protection of public property (ASV).

    A currency reform took place in the three western occupation zones on June 20th . On the 23rd, the D-Mark was also introduced in West Berlin . On the 24th, the Soviet Union imposed a blockade on the three western sectors of Berlin as a reaction to the currency reform in the western zones that had not been coordinated with it and thus the de facto economic division of Germany . This blockade led to the establishment of the Berlin Airlift from June 26th. Until the blockade was lifted by the Soviet Union on May 12, 1949, the so-called “ raisin bombers ” transported 1,583,686 tons of relief supplies and 160,000 tons of building materials for the expansion of the airports in 195,530 flights.

    A currency reform of its own took place in the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) and East Berlin from June 24th to 28th. There were many makeshift arrangements at this time as the administration was completely surprised by the currency reform. New stamps were stuck onto old Reichsmark notes. These bills were popularly called the coupon mark . In addition, so-called hand stamps were introduced for postage stamps : The issues of the Allied Control Council from 1947 were provided with existing district hand stamps and then issued in exchange for new currency (valid from June 24 to July 10, 1948). The issues could be used up until July 31, 1948 as so-called "tenfold frankings" even without hand stamps.

    The German People's Police (DVP) set up barracked readiness from July 3rd.

    The military governors of the western zones of occupation had meanwhile - on July 1 - served the Prime Ministers of the countries in their sphere of influence with the Frankfurt documents arising from the London Six Power Conference , in which they authorized them to convene a constituent assembly and laid down the general conditions for the constitution of a state. As a result, work on the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany began on August 10 with the constitutional convention on Herrenchiemsee .

    The President of the German Administration of the Interior (DVdI), Erich Reschke , was replaced on July 12 by the Saxon Interior Minister Kurt Fischer (SED).

    On September 16, the SED decided to set up a Central Party Control Commission (ZPKK).

    On October 13th, the miner Adolf Hennecke produced 24.4 m³ of coal in one shift, exceeding the daily target by 387%. This founded the activist movement in the GDR, which was supposed to encourage performance improvement without (or almost without) financial incentives. In this area, too, they orientated themselves towards the Soviet Union. The Stakhanov movement in the Soviet Union served as a template for the Hennecke movement in the Soviet occupation zone and the later GDR.

    On October 22, the committee of the German People's Council concluded its work on a constitution for a German Democratic Republic - based on a corresponding draft of the SED from 1946. This was accepted by the German People's Council on March 19 of the following year .

    On November 15, the first of the two "Leipzig trials" against 25 defendants from the Leipzig company HASAG began in front of the First Large Criminal Chamber in Leipzig on the order of 201/48 of the Soviet military administration . In the "Kamienna-Czestochowa Trial" on the crimes against the Jewish slave laborers in Skarżysko-Kamienna , four defendants were sentenced to death on December 22, 1948.

    The Politburo of the CPSU decided on 28 December, the formation of the head office for the protection of the national economy , forerunner of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi).


    On January 14th, order No. 2 was issued by the President of the DVdI, Kurt Fischer, to “clean the police of undesirable elements”.

    At its 1st party conference from January 25 to 28, the SED decided to reorient the party in the style of the Soviet CPSU. A Politburo was formed and democratic centralism was introduced as an organizational principle.

    The K 5 departments and commissariats were removed from the criminal police on May 6th. Under the leadership of Erich Mielke , independent organizational units of a political police were formed, which were incorporated into the newly formed Ministry of the Interior (MdI) as the main administration for the protection of the national economy after the founding of the GDR .

    At midnight on May 12, the Soviet Union lifted the blockade of West Berlin after realizing that the US and Great Britain were determined to continue the Berlin Airlift , which guaranteed supplies to West Berlin, indefinitely.

    In the Soviet occupation zone on 15./16. May the elections for the 3rd German People's Congress took place, but according to standard lists. Despite considerable election fraud, only about 66 percent of the votes fell on the unified list.

    On May 23, the Basic Law passed by the Parliamentary Council on May 8 was promulgated; thus the Federal Republic of Germany was constituted.

    On May 24, the second of the two “Leipzig trials” began against defendants from the Leipzig company HASAG . In the “Czestochowa Trial” on the crimes against the slave laborers in Czestochowa , four defendants were sentenced to death on June 17 and July 29, 1949.

    The third German People's Congress took place from May 29th to June 3rd. The more than 2,000 members elected the Second German People's Council as a permanent body. Only 25 percent of its 330 members came from the western zones. The People's Congress unanimously approved the constitution for a German Democratic Republic on May 30th .

    In the Federal Republic of Germany, the elections to the first German Bundestag took place on August 14, which elected Konrad Adenauer as the first Federal Chancellor on September 15 , after Theodor Heuss had previously been elected President in the first Federal President election on September 12 .

    On October 7th, the Second German People's Council was constituted as the Provisional People's Chamber and put the GDR constitution into effect, which established the German Democratic Republic .

    Population development

    A census was carried out in the Soviet Zone at the end of 1945 , the first after the end of the war. A total of almost 16.2 million people were counted, almost a million more than the last census in 1939.

    The population of the Soviet-occupied zone in 1945 compared to 1939 and the percentage changes
    Country / Province Resident on
    December 1, 1945
    Resident on
    May 17, 1939
    Mark Brandenburg Province 2,317,906 2,355,615 −1.6%
    State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 1,946,896 1,478,685 + 31.7%
    Province of Saxony 3,900,381 3,431,093 + 13.7%
     a) without the administrative district of Erfurt 3,209,645 2,999,671 + 7.0%
     b) Anhalt 690.736 431,422 + 16.0%
    State of Thuringia 2,776,773 2,446,909 + 13.5%
     a) Thuringia 2,081,891 1,795,469 + 16.0%
     b) Erfurt administrative district 694,882 650,840 + 6.8%
    State of Saxony 5,252,670 5,480,713 −4.2%
    Soviet occupation zone in total 16,194,626 15,192,415 + 6.6%

    See also


    Web links

    Commons : Soviet Zone of Occupation  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
    Wiktionary: Soviet zone  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: SBZ  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

    Individual evidence

    1. - ( Memento of May 10, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
    2. For example here in an article ( Memento of July 27, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) of the Hamburger Abendblatt from 1978; see. Heiner Bröckermann and Sven Felix Kellerhoff : When the "GDR" became the GDR. The renunciation of the quotes came at the right time in the WORLD. In: Die Welt , August 1, 2009.
    3. See Helmut Berschin , Concept of Germany in Linguistic Change. In: Werner Weidenfeld , Karl-Rudolf Korte (ed.): Handbook on German Unity 1949–1989–1999. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt a. M./New York 1999, ISBN 3-593-36240-6 , pp. 217-225, here p. 221.
    4. Federal Law Gazette 2006 I p. 894.
    5. Konstantin Pritzel: The economic integration of Central Germany . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1969, p. 15th f .
    6. Achim Kilian : The prisoners in the Soviet special camps from 1945–1950. Summary of the current state of knowledge regarding number, whereabouts and composition according to reasons for internment. In: Materials of the Enquete Commission of the German Bundestag. Overcoming the consequences of the SED dictatorship in the process of German unity. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1999, pp. 373-440, ISBN 978-3-7890-6354-1 .
    7. a b Full text command no.1
    8. Konstantin Pritzel: The economic integration of Central Germany . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1969, p. 17 .
    10. Konstantin Pritzel: The economic integration of Central Germany . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1969, p. 16 .
    11. Konstantin Pritzel: The economic integration of Central Germany . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1969, p. 18 .
    12. Link not available
    13. Konstantin Pritzel: The economic integration of Central Germany . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1969, p. 19 .
    14. Konstantin Pritzel: The economic integration of Central Germany . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1969, p. 17th f .
    15. Konstantin Pritzel: The economic integration of Central Germany . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1969, p. 20 .
    16. The LDPD and CDU were well behind the SED. The SPD only competed in Berlin.
    17. full text
    18. SMAD Order No. 201 , DWK Implementation Regulations No. 1 to SMAD Order No. 201 at Wikimedia Commons , DWK Implementation Regulations No. 2 to SMAD Order No. 201 at Wikimedia Commons , DWK Implementation Regulations No. 3 to SMAD Order No. 201 at Wikimedia Commons as well as the decree of the chief of the German judicial administration of the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany at the DWK from September 18, 1947 to carry out the order No. 201 of the SMAD in Gerhard Fieberg / Harald Reichenbach (ed.): Expropriation and open property questions in the former GDR, Volume I, Cologne 1991, Document
    19. ^ Wolfgang Benz : Two state foundations on German soil. Information on political education , issue 259, April 23, 2005.
    20. Andrea Lorz: 60 years of Leipzig trials for the National Socialist crimes in the HASAG plants in Skarzysko-Kamienna and Czestochowa