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Growing Apart: Farmers and the Division of Germany, 1945–1965

  • Sagi Schaefer (a1)

Abstract

A variety of external forces led to the division of Germany after 1945, and, almost three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, division continues to persist as a social, economic, and political factor in united Germany. This article contributes to scholarly efforts aimed at delineating the ways in which division became a component in the self-perception of many Germans. Focusing on farmers, it shows that their attachment to the land was one such path. At the same time, it argues that farmers were among the first to contend with division in 1945 and, as the most numerous participants in the so-called Little Border Traffic (Kleine Grenzverkehr) between the two postwar states, were keenly aware of the growing division of Germany from its earliest days. The article highlights the choice that farmers made between living in East or in West Germany, arguing that because crossing the border was optional until the mid-1960s, and because land was much less available in the West than in the East, many East German farmers came to associate life in West Germany with the loss of land—and life in East Germany with an ability to keep it. When deciding to stay put, flee westward, or move from West to East, farmers prioritized the degree to which they were attached to their land and property. By making that choice, they cemented their self-perception as belonging to one of the opposing sides. This was not an ideological declaration per se, but rather one rooted in eminently practical considerations.

Zahlreiche externe Kräfte führten nach 1945 zur deutschen Teilung, die auch fast drei Jahrzehnte nach dem Fall der Mauer als ein sozialer, wirtschaftlicher und politischer Faktor im vereinten Deutschland fortbesteht. Dieser Aufsatz trägt zu wissenschaftlichen Bemühungen bei, die darauf zielen, die Art und Weise darzustellen, wie die Idee der Teilung eine Komponente in der Selbstwahrnehmung vieler Deutscher wurde. Der Fokus ist auf Bauern gerichtet, wobei gezeigt wird, dass deren enge Verbindung zum Land eine solche Art und Weise war. Gleichzeitig wird argumentiert, dass Bauern unter den ersten waren, die im Jahr 1945 mit der Teilung zu kämpfen hatten, und als die zahlenreichsten Teilnehmer im sogenannten Kleinen Grenzverkehr zwischen den beiden Nachkriegsstaaten sich schon in den frühesten Tagen äußerst bewusst über die wachsende Teilung Deutschlands waren. Der Aufsatz hebt dabei die von den Bauern zu treffende Wahl hervor, in Ost- oder Westdeutschland zu leben, und argumentiert, dass angesichts der Tatsachen, dass Grenzübergänge bis zur Mitte der 1960er Jahre optional waren und Land im Westen wesentlich weniger zur Verfügung stand als im Osten, viele ostdeutsche Bauern begannen, das Leben in Westdeutschland mit Landverlust zu assoziieren – und das Leben in Ostdeutschland mit der Möglichkeit Land behalten zu können. Bei der Entscheidung zwischen zu bleiben, in den Westen zu fliehen oder vom Westen in den Osten zu ziehen, setzten Bauern die Priorität auf ihre enge Verbindung zu Land und Eigentum. Indem sie diese Wahl trafen, verfestigten sie ihre Selbstwahrnehmung als Zugehörige zur gegnerischen Seite. Das war freilich keine ideologische Erklärung als vielmehr eine auf vornehmlich praktischen Überlegungen basierende.

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1 See, e.g., Sheffer, Edith, “On Edge: Building the Border in East and West Germany,” Central European History 40 (2007): 307–39; Bennewitz, Inge and Potratz, Rainer, Zwangsaussiedlungen an der innerdeutschen Grenze (Berlin: Ch. Links, 1997); Lindenberger, Thomas, “‘Asoziale Lebensweise’. Herrschaftslegitimation, Sozialdisziplinierung und die Konstruktion eines ‘negativen Milieus' in der SED-Diktatur,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 31, no. 2 (2005): 227–54.

2 Interview with Herbert Naumann, Sickenberg (Thuringia), Oct. 6, 2007. This and all other interviews referred to in this article are part of the author's private collection. Names of all persons mentioned in this article have been changed to protect their privacy. The interviews were conducted by three researchers at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres in Vienna as part of the Border Communities Project: Christian Gerbel, Alexander Knoth, and Berthold Molden. Sandra Wolf-Rohrberg transcribed the interviews. My thanks to Thomas Lindenberger and Libora Oates-Indruchova for giving me access to the rich collection of interview recordings, transcripts, and related materials.

3 Sheffer, Edith, Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 98117 ; Ehrhart, Neubert and Auerbach, Thomas, “Es kann anders werden.” Opposition und Widerstand in Thüringen, 1945–1989 (Cologne: Böhlau, 2005), 5356 ; Bennewitz and Potratz, Zwangsaussiedlungen.

4 There is little debate regarding the trajectory of the country's political division beyond the question of which side deserves more blame. The process through which parts of a preexisting national community drifted apart, referred to here as “social division,” has not been closely investigated.

5 From the fall of 1961, GDR forces added increasingly elaborated fortifications to the long rural border, making it more and more difficult to cross. Border crossing attempts never stopped, but their overall numbers diminished significantly, and the rate of success fell sharply during the 1960s. A notable exception was crossing by residents living in the borderlands: they were, for a variety of reasons, not similarly deterred. See Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv Freiburg (BArch-F), DVH 40, GT 184, “Angaben zur Grenzverletzung DDR-W, 1964,” Nov. 4, 1964; Barch-F, DVH 40, GT 8243, “Ergebnisse der Grenzsicherung in der 9. Grenzbrigade Erfurt 1965–66,” n.d.

6 On the consensus regarding West Germany in this respect, see the introduction to Münkel, Daniela, ed., Der lange Abschied vom Agrarland: Agrarpolitik, Landwirtschaft und ländliche Gesellschaft zwischen Weimar und Bonn (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2000), esp. 16–18. In East Germany, forced collectivization, which began again in 1959 and continued throughout the 1960s, is a well-recognized turning point in this regard. See, e.g., Last, George, After the Socialist Spring (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2009).

7 Though it remained official policy, collectivization was not pushed for in any meaningful way for approximately five years following the uprising of June 1953. See Last, Socialist Spring, 8.

8 Ibid., 27–34; Werkentin, Falco, “Klassenkampf auf dem Land: Zu den Methoden der Kollektivierung von 1952 bis 1960,” in Klassenkampf gegen die Bauern, ed. Beleites, Michael et al. (Berlin: Metropol, 2010), 6466 ; Langelüddecke, Ines, “Bauernland in Junkerhand?—Die Rückkehr des brandenburgischen Adels und die Auseinandersetzungen mit den Bauern nach 1989/90,” in Standortbestimmung Deutschlandforschung, ed. Gloe, Markus, Haarmann, Litz, and Thieme, Tom (Berlin: Duncker & Humboldt, 2016), 133–49.

9 Based on regular reports by regional commandos of the GDR border troops concerning the progress of construction works along the border, significant strips along the border were not yet being built according to plan even toward the end of the 1960s. See, e.g., Barch-F, DVH 53–3, GT 4043, “Grenzverlauf und Pioneeranlagen des GR-4,” Sept. 9, 1965;  “Grenzverlauf und Pioneeranlagen des GR-4,” March 23, 1969.

10 See Exner, Peter, Ländliche Gesellschaft und Landwirtschaft in Westfalen 1919–1969 (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1997); as well as the good collection of local studies about the transformation of West German rural society in Münkel, Der lange Abschied; Spindler, George, Burgbach: Urbanization and Identity in a German Village (New York: Holt McDougal, 1973); Schmidt, Hubert G., “Postwar Developments in West German Agriculture, 1945–1953,” Agricultural History 29, no. 4 (1955): 147–59.

11 Reinisch, Jessica, The Perils of Peace (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Patel, Kiran Klaus, “The Paradox of Planning: German Agricultural Policy in a European Perspective, 1920s to 1970s,” Past and Present 212, no. 1 (2011): 242–46; Nelson, Arvid, Cold War Ecology: Forests, Farms and People in the East German Landscape, 1945–1989 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), 3637 ; Schmidt, “German Agriculture,” 147–51.

12 Between 1953 and 1956, 200,000 to 300,000 persons migrated annually from East to West across this border, and 30,000 to 70,000 from West to East; see Bundesarchiv Berlin (BArch-B), DE 1, 6109, “Wanderung von und nach Westdeutschland und Westberlin,” Oct. 26, 1956. For slightly different numbers, see Schmelz, Andrea, Migration und Politik im geteilten Deutschland während des Kalten Krieges (Opladen: Leske + Budrich, 2002), 65 ; Major, Patrick, Behind the Berlin Wall: East Germany and the Frontiers of Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 67 ; Stöver, Bernd, Zuflucht DDR: Spione und andere Übersiedler (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2009), 85 .

13 In the Soviet Zone, the major early intervention was land reform (discussed later). For the Western Occupation Zones, see Schmidt, “German Agriculture.”

14 Much agricultural produce was sold on the black market, smuggled across the border, or used for farm needs, all well-established practices used by farmers to counter state measures. See Moeller, Robert G., “Economic Dimensions of Peasant Protest in the Transition from Kaiserreich to Weimar,” in Peasants and Lords in Modern Germany, ed. Moeller, Robert G. (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1986), 40168 ; Patel, “Paradox of Planning,” 247–48; Schaefer, Sagi, States of Division: Border and Boundary Formation in Cold War Rural Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 3033 .

15 Naimark, Norman, The Russians in Germany (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 142–44.

16 The British abandoned their land reform plans under US pressure. On the land reform that took place in the Soviet Zone, see Bauerkämper, Arnd, “Junkerland in Bauernhand”? Durchführung, Auswirkungen und Stellenwert der Bodenreform in der sowjetischen Besatzungszone (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1996); Naimark, Russians, 150–66. Also see the detailed discussion about land reform in Brandenburg in Bauerkämper, Arnd, “Zwangsmodernisierung und Krisenzyklen. Die Bodenreform und Kollektivierung in Brandenburg 1945–1960/61,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 25, no. 4 (1999): 559–68; see also Nelson, Cold War Ecology, 53–76. For land reform plans in the British zone, see Trittel, Günter J., Die Bodenreform in der britischen Zone 1945–1949 (Stuttgart: DVA, 1975); Burchett, Wilfred G., Cold War in Germany (Melbourne: World Unity Press, 1950), 6471 .

17 Werkentin, “Klassenkampf,” esp. 48–49. See also Boldorf, Marcel, “Landarmut in der SBZ/DDR zwischen Bodenreform und Kollektivierung,” in Zwischen Bodenreform und Kollektivierung: Vor- und Frühgeschichte der “sozialistischen Landwirtschaft” in der SBZ/DDR vom Kriegsende bis in die fünfziger Jahre, ed. Kluge, Ulrich et al. (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2001), 140–43. For specific examples from the district of Saalfeld in Thuringia, see Port, Andrew I., Conflict and Stability in the German Democratic Republic (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 2833 .

18 For East Germany, see Bauerkämper, “Zwangsmodernisierung,” 563–65; for West Germany, see Connor, Ian, “German Refugees and the Bonn Government's Resettlement Programme,” German History 18, no. 3 (2000): 337–61. Kiran Patel emphasizes the desire to find a solution for the millions of refugees from Eastern Europe as the primary motivation for the land reform and argues that, with regard to this goal, East and West German measures taken under Allied occupation involved comparable mistakes and came up short in similar ways; see Patel, “Paradox of Planning,” 258.

19 Newcomers to rural Germany in those years also included forced laborers and evacuees from bombed cities. For a detailed account of this phenomenon in Bavarian villages, see Erker, Paul, “Revolution des Dorfes? Ländliche Bevölkerung zwischen Flüchtlingszustrom und landwirtschaftlichem Strukturwandel,” in Von Stalingrad zur Währungsreform: Zur Sozialgeschichte des Umbruchs in Deutschland, ed. Broszat, Martin et al. (Oldenbourg: De Gruyter, 1990), 367–70, 377–86.

20 For a vivid picture of the constant movement in occupied Germany, see Bessel, Richard, Germany 1945 (London: Simon & Schuster, 2009), 246–78.

21 The Americans initially occupied the entire valley (as well as much more land located due east). After retreating to a predetermined demarcation line in July, US and Soviet forces clashed over the use of the railway, leading to an uncommonly abrasive atmosphere in this border area. They reached an agreement in September that made the Werra Valley the site of one of the most extensive territorial exchanges between the Allies. The treaty was signed on September 17, 1945, in the town of Wanfried and is known as the Wanfried Treaty (Wanfrieder Abkommen). See Gedenkstätte Grenzmuseum Schifflersgrund, ed., Das Wanfrieder Abkommen vom 17. September 1945 (n.p., n.d.); Künzel, Arthur, “Das Wanfrieder Abkommen vom 17.9.1945,” Schriften des Werratalvereins Witzenhausen 4 (1981): 2836 ; Baumann, Ansbert, “Thüringische Hessen und hessische Thüringer,” Deutschland-Archiv 37 (2004): 1000–5.

22 Kreisarchiv Eichsfeld, Heiligenstadt (KrAEich), EA HIG, Nr. 402/I, letter from Gemeinderat Wahlhausen to Thuringisches Ministerium des Innern, Jan. 26, 1948; Hessische Staatsarchiv Marburg (HeStAM), 401/11, Nr. 27, letter from Arno Gastrock to Regierungspräsident Kassel, March 14, 1946.

23 It was a problem for industry, commerce, and other economic sectors in the borderlands as well. See Schaefer, States of Division, esp. 151–54.

24 Niedesächsische Landesarchive—Hauptstaatsarchiv Hannover (NLA-HStAH), Nds. 120 Hildesheim Acc. 166/86, Nr. 341/1, “Kosten von Milchabfuhr,” May 27, 1953.

25 Allied Control Commission (ACC) Directive Nr. 42 from October 1946 stated that permits could be issued for “German workers and employees who work in one occupation zone and reside in another.” See Niedersächsische Landesarchiv—Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel (NLA-StAW), 4 Nds. 48/1993 Nr. 833, Amtsblatt des Kontrollrates in Deutschland Nr. 11, Oct. 31, 1946.

26 For the routinized working of these arrangements by 1950, see Bundesarchiv Koblenz (BArch-K), 137/1350, 22, report from the Lower Saxon Minister of Interior to the Federal Minister for All-German Questions, Feb. 24, 1950. Also see in this file the reports from the Lower Saxon Minister's colleagues from Bavaria (March 15, 1950) and from Hesse (March 27, 1950). For an example of a change that happened in actual practice, see also NLA-StAW, 4 Nds. 48/1993 Nr. 833, letter from Chef der Polizei Braunschweig-Land to Bezirkspräsident Braunschweig, Aug. 10, 1950.

27 Thüringisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Weimar (ThHStAW), LBdVP Thüringen Nr. 176, 4–7, PM 1b- 070412, Jan. 8, 1952.

28 NLA-HStAH, Nds. 120 Hildesheim, Acc. 60/78 Nr. 2, letter from Regierungspräsident Hildesheim to Nds. Minister für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten, May 14, 1952.

29 For some examples, see NLA-StAW, 4 Nds. 48/1993 Nr. 833, Chef der Polizei Braunschweig-Land to Bezirkspräsident Braunschweig, Aug. 10, 1950; interview with Igor Kunst, Wahlhausen, Oct. 8, 2007 (pp. 4–8 of the transcript); Buckler, Alois, Grenzgänger: Erlebnisse aus den Jahren 1947–1961 an der innerdeutschen Grenze (Leipzig: Thomas Verlag, 1991).

30 On state officials examining the content of rucksacks belonging to border-crossing farmers, see Schaefer, States of Division, 51–55.

31 On the currency reform and its significance, see Abelshauser, Werner, Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1945–1980 (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1983), 3262 ; Uhl, Matthias, Die Teilung Deutschlands: Niederlage, Ost-West-Spaltung und Wiederaufbau 1945–49 (Berlin: be.bra, 2009), 135–40, 165–68; Kleßmann, Christoph, Die doppelte Staatsgründung: Deutsche Geschichte 1945–1955 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982), 185–92. For personal accounts of the immediate changes brought about by the currency reform, see Kleßmann, Christoph and Wagner, Georg, eds., Das gespaltene Land (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1993), 174–79.

32 See Schaefer, States of Division, 30–33.

33 The exchange on this issue is located in the main Hessian state archive in Wiesbaden and in the Eichsfeld district archive in Heiligenstadt. See Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden (HHStAW), Abt. 502, Nr. 7861–7862, Amtsbezirkbürgermeister Bad Sooden-Allendorf, “Entwurf,” Oct. 6, 1947; KrAEich, EA HIG, Nr. 402/I, “Zonengrenze bei d. Stadt Bad Sooden-Allendorf,” Jan. 8, 1948; “Änderung d. Zonengrenze im Kreis Witzenhausen,” March 31, 1947.

34 For correspondences on this issue, beginning in March 1951, see the documents in ThHStAW, Land Thür., Ministerium d. Finanzen Nr. 1397.

35 Erker, “Revolution des Dorfes?,” 372–76.

36 On migration, see Gehrmann, Manfred, Die Überwindung des Eisernen Vorhangs (Berlin: Ch. Links, 2009); Schmelz, Migration; Stöver, Zuflucht; Major, Patrick, “Going West: The Open Border and the Problem of Republikflucht ,” in The Workers' and Peasants' State, ed. Major, Patrick and Osmond, Jonathan (New York: Palgrave, 2002), 190208 . Many other studies devote sections or chapters to this topic. See, e.g., Werkentin, “Klassenkampf ” 51–54; Port, Conflict and Stability, 133–38.

37 Major, Behind the Berlin Wall, 56–88.

38 On motives for emigration related to collectivization, see Werkentin, “Klassenkampf,” esp. 51–54, 62–66.

39 Major, Behind the Berlin Wall, 64. He relies for this assertion on Humm, Antonia Maria, Auf dem Weg zum sozialistischen Dorf (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999). According to this microhistory of a single village in East Germany from 1952 to 1969, migration to the West was undertaken almost exclusively by newcomers and did not affect the prewar inhabitants.

40 Major, Behind the Berlin Wall, 65–73.

41 Interview with Igor Schlenk, Bad Sooden-Allendorf, Oct. 6, 2007 (pp. 2–3 of the transcript).

42 Interview with Björn Ostfeld, Bad Sooden-Allendorf, Oct. 9, 2007 (p. 1 of the transcript). This conflict involved local and state offices in both states over a prolonged period. For the full context and an analysis, see Schaefer, States of Division, 109–16.

43 During the 1950s, only “dwarf holders” (Zwergbesitzer) with very small plots gave up ownership in significant numbers, with many of them switching to work in industry or construction. See Peter Exner, “Wenn die Frauen Hosen tragen und die Wagen ohne Deichsel fahren, dann ändern sich die Zeiten.” Ländliche Gesellschaft in Westfalen zwischen Weimar und Bonn,” and Karl-Heinz Schneider, “Wege in die Moderne: Varianten dörflicher Entwicklung in Niedersachsen zwischen 1945 und 1970,” in Münkel, Lange Abschied, 39–68, 69–92.  See also Erker, “Revolution des Dorfes?,” 375–76; Bothe, Hans-Günther, Landwirtschaft und Flurbereinigung (Stuttgart: Eugen Ulmer, 1963).

44 See, e.g., Ian Connor, “German Refugees,” 337–61; Patel, “Paradox of Planning,” 258.

45 Farming households sent some members to work elsewhere; many laborers were let off, and younger Germans opted for the cities. The workforce was mainly replaced by machinery, which meant that the numbers dropped quickly without opening up a great deal of land for the market. See Patel, “Paradox of Planning,” esp. 259–61.

46 See, e.g., Burds, Jeffrey, Peasant Dreams and Market Politics (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998); Morawska, Ewa, “Labor Migration of Poles in the Atlantic World Economy, 1880–1914,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 31, no. 2 (1989): 237–72; Holmes, Douglas R. and Quataert, Jean H., “An Approach to Modern Labor: Worker Peasantries in Historic Saxony and the Friuli Region over Three Centuries,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 28, no. 2 (1986): 191–216.

47 See KrAHig, EA HIG, Nr. 402/II, letter from Rat der Gemeinde Volkerode to Rat des Kreises Heiligenstadt, Aug. 27, 1959; Rat des Kreises Heiligenstadt, Abt. für Innere Angelegenheiten, “Bericht über die Ursachenforschung der Republikflucht der Familie G., Volkerode,” Sept. 14, 1959. The incident was also reported in the West German press; see, e.g., “Bauer mit Familie und Vieh aus der Sowjetzone geflohen,” Hessische Allgemeine Zeitung (henceforth HAZ), Aug. 24, 1959.

48 Stadtchronic der Stadt Bad Sooden-Allendorf (StABSA), EI, Nr. 2, “Mit Wagen und fünf Kühen durch,” HAZ, Oct. 7, 1960.

49 The newspaper story mentioned that they planned to sell their cows for a little money so that they could start their “free life” (freies Leben). See ibid.

50 As mentioned earlier, the full collectivization drive of 1959–1960 was one of two periods in which the proportion of farmers among the emigrants was equal to their proportion of the population.

51 Others have pointed out the contribution that collectivization played in the decision to move West. See esp. Last, Socialist Spring, esp. 39–46; Werkentin, Klassenkampf,” 51–54, 62–66.

52 ThHStAW, BdVP Erfurt, Nr. 571, 159–166, “Aktion Kornblume in Kreis Worbis,” Oct. 6, 1961. In 2005, German television aired a documentary about the affair; see Peter Adler and Katrin Völker, “Wir wollten nur noch raus!” (MDR, 2005).

53 Barch-F, DVH 40, GT 8257, 17–25, “Bericht über die Untersuchung der Fahnenflucht und des schweren Grenzdurchbruches in der 2. Kompanie des GR-4,” Feb. 25, 1963.

54 See Samuelson, William and Zeckhauser, Richard, “Status Quo Bias in Decision Making,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 1, no. 1 (1988): 759 .

55 Interview with Igor Kunst (pp. 18–19 of the transcript); interview with Linus Hart, Wahlhausen, Oct. 7, 2007 (pp. 7–9 of the transcript).

56 A significant portion of this migration stream was made up of former residents of the GDR who decided to return—over 50 percent of them during most of the 1950s. See Barch-B, DE 1, 6109,  23–23/1, “Wanderung von und nach Westdeutschland und Westberlin,” Oct. 26, 1956; Schmelz, Migration, 65; Major, Behind the Berlin Wall, 67; Stöver, Zuflucht DDR, 85.

57 Schmelz, Migration und Politik, 59–63.

58 Barch-B, DQ 2, Nr. 2122, “Abwanderung von Arbeitskräften aus der Landwirtschaft,” Dec. 1, 1953; Barch-B, DQ 2, Nr. 2120, “Maßnahmen zur Behebung des Arbeitskräftemangels in der Landwirtschaft,” Feb. 25, 1952. Arnd Bauerkämper emphasizes the way in which certain unintended consequences of the land reform contributed since the late 1940s to the abundance of vacant arable land in the GDR; he also discusses the low productivity of the LPGs, the salary of land laborers, and other causes. See Bauerkämper, “Zwangsmodernisierung,” 570–71, 578–80. See also Nelson, Cold War Ecology, 71–72.

59 Barch-B, DO1, 11301, 1321–1325, “Richtlinie über die Ansiedlung westdeutscher Bürger in der Landwirtschaft” n.d.; Barch-B, DC 1, Nr. 652, “Arbeitsanweisung Betr.: Ansiedlung von Bauern und Landarbeitern aus Westdeutschland (Entwurf),” June 6, 1954.

60 The Ministry of State Security feared that West German spies would try to enter the GDR as undercover farmers. West Germans were consequently not allowed to settle near the border. See Barch-B, DO1, 11301, 1321–1325, “Richtlinie über die Ansiedlung westdeutscher Bürger in der Landwirtschaft,” n.d. These same security considerations had led to massive deportations from the border areas several years earlier; these were consequently areas with a considerable amount of vacant land. See Schaefer, States of Division, 82–86.

61 BArch-B, DO1, Nr. 9382, DDR Min. d. Innern, Abt. für Innere Angelegenheiten, “Vermerk,” May 3, 1960; “Entwurf: Bevölkerungsbewegung in der Landwirtschaft,” internal memo of the DDR ministry of the Interior, n.d. Both sources indicate that thousands of farmers and agricultural workers went to the GDR annually in 1959 and 1960.

62 See the minutes of this committee from 1954 to 1959 in KrAEich, EA HIG, 402/II. See also Stadtarchiv Heiligenstadt (StAHIG), Reportorium II, IA 560, “Beurteilung,” n.d.

63 For a rich exchange on this topic, including all the details of the case from several angles, see BArch-B, DC 1, Nr. 712, “Der Bevollmächtigte der Zentralen Kommission für staatliche Kontrolle im Bezirk Cottbus an die Zentrale Kommission für staatliche Kontrolle Berlin,” Oct. 4, 1954; and Beschwerde an die ZKK Berlin, Oct. 4, 1954.

64 For the historical processes underlying the significance of the family plot, see Sabean, David W., Property, Production and Family in Neckarhausen, 1700–1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), esp. 15–20, 259320 .

65 I thank Fromm's daughter, who reacted to a newspaper advertisement and shared her father's letters with me, as well as Ben Thustek from the Grenzland Museum Eichsfeld, for his help with the advertisement. The following details are all taken from these letters.

66 KrAEich, EA HIG 321, “Monatliche Berichterstattung zur Bevölkerungsbewegung über die D-Linie—Dez. 1955,” Jan. 4, 1956. This was a few years before the forced collectivization of East German forests and the consequent migration of many foresters to the West. See Nelson, Cold War Ecology, 95–96.

67 There is much evidence for this. A good example is the debate about and scholarly writing on the flourishing of museums about everyday life in the lands of the former GDR. See, e.g., Gigerenzer, Thalia, Gedächtnislabore. Wie Heimatmuseen in Ostdeutschland an die DDR erinnern (Berlin: be.bra, 2013); Betts, Paul, “The Twilight of the Idols: East German Memory and Material Culture,” Journal of Modern History 72, no. 3 (2000): 731–65; Winkler, Anne, “Remembering and Historicizing Socialism: The Private and Amateur Musealization of East Germany's Everyday Life,” in Exhibiting the German Past: Museums, Film, and Musealization, ed. McIsaac, Peter M. and Mueller, Gabriele (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015), 100–22.

I thank Frank Biess, Iris Nachum, and Tali Schaefer for their comments on previous drafts of this article. Thomas Lindenberger invited me to present this research at the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung (ZZF) in Potsdam, where discussion with his seminar's participants was very helpful. I thank the anonymous readers for CEH, who pushed me to clarify and substantiate my arguments, as well as Andrew I. Port for working above and beyond his role as editor to improve this article. Yael Levitzky and Tali Schaefer helped with research for this work.

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Growing Apart: Farmers and the Division of Germany, 1945–1965

  • Sagi Schaefer (a1)

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