Seventeenth June 1953

in the days around the 17. June 1953 came it in the GDR to a wave of strikes, demonstrations and protests, those as rising of the people 17. June to be designated.

Table of contents

background of the crisis

in July 1952 found the 2 in east Berlin. A conference of party of the SED instead of. Underthe keyword walter Ulbrichts that „the regular building up of socialism “take place, the process “of the Sowjetisierung” of the society should be forced and the Staatsmacht be strengthened.

This meant for example the re-classification of the five countries into 14 districts (plus east Berlin), forwardseverything in addition, an attack on the remaining central layers of the GDR: In particular farmers and small handels and industrial concerns should be forced by increased deliveries to the task of their Selbstständigkeit.

This resolution became before the background of a catastrophic economic situation of the stateseized. In the course of the militarization forced by the Soviet authorities the direct and indirect military expenditure constantly increased and covered already 1952 about 11% of the entire state household. Together with the reparations these expenditures over 20% of the household bound. The economic policythe SED oriented itself on a preference of the heavy industry debited to the food and consumer goods industry with appropriate impairment of the supply situation of the population.

Dramatic increasing that anyway since GDR state State of constantly large drift movement in the first half-year 1953 placed an economic howalso a social problem. Further factors, which led to a load of the political situation, were the high number of convicts in the GDR, in addition, the repression against (falsely) central youth organization of the Evangelist church called and fought„Boy municipality “.

The USA and the other Western powers did not intervene, since possible actions could have been considered as war provocation.

standard increase

before this crisisful national background knew the increase of the work standards (thus for the wageswork which can be furnished), those the central committee (ZK) the SED to 13. and 14. May 1953 decided and the Council of Ministers to 28. May confirmed, as provocation to be quite felt. With the increase of the work standards around ten per cent up to 30. June,that 60. Birthday walter Ulbrichts, wanted to meet the ZK the economic difficulties. When recommendation concerned given change, it however actually an instruction, which should be accomplished in all state-owned enterprises and in the long run on a wage lowering would be run out.

new course

the guidance of the Soviet Union meanwhile their own thoughts on the situation in the GDR had made themselves and conceived at the end of of May „the measures for the reorganization of the political situation in the GDR “, the one to Moscow ordered SED- Delegation to 2. June 1953 were communicated. Requests of SED politicians for a more careful and slower course change became for instance of the new high commissioner Vladimir Semjonov - the highest-ranking Soviet representative in the GDR, which was actually superordinate the GDR guidance - alsothe sentence „in 14 days they are brushed off perhaps already no more state to have “.

At the 11. June was finally announced „the new course “of the Politbüros in new Germany: In it self criticism was quite contained. Some measures for „the building up of socialism“were taken back. So tax and price increases should be waived. Craftsmen, retailers and private industrial companies could request the return of their business and enterprises. All arrests and judgements should be examined. The fight against the boy municipality was stopped. Under thatAbove all the remaining civil central layers as well as the farmers profited to line from „the new course “, while the workers remained to a large extent excluded from privileges. Thus the disputed work standard increase remained existing, which led to first displeasure expressions with the workers.

The course change of the governmentin all parts of the population with large interest and partly quite positively one took up. Often the new course in the population in addition, as „declaration of bankruptcy of the SED dictatorship was interpreted “. In the following days it came to first smaller protest meetings andDemonstrations.

To 14. June appeared in the new Germany of the articles it is time to put the mallet aside the penetration to the standard increase on the basis a report over construction industry critically lit up, without placing it thereby however generally infrage.This article was considered very strongly and worked in connection with two days later in the trade union newspaper grandstand published article, which justified the ten percent standard increase than „in its entirety correctly “, than trips of protests.

Tuesday, 16.June

on Tuesday 16. June came it to two citizens of Berlin large-scale building sites, the block 40 into the Stalinallee and the hospital new building into Berlin Friedrichshain, to the first strikes, which had been informally agreed upon in the Vortagen. From both building sites formeditself a first small protest course, which became larger on the way first to the house of the trade unions of the FDGB, then to the seat of the government in the Leipziger road fast - particularly around further building workers -.

After the trade union leader6s had refused,the workers to listen to, the cancelling of the standard increase decided by the Politbüro at noon was communicated to the demonstration course before the government building. In the meantime the demands of the quantity moved out however over this concrete cause for the protest. In an increasing politicalization of the passwordsbecame and. A. the resignation of the government and free elections demanded. Subsequently, the quantity in a constantly increasing demonstration course pulled by the city center back to the building sites of the Stalinallee, whereby on the way by speech choirs and over a captured sound truck thatGeneral strike was proclaimed and the population was called for the following day, at eight o'clock at the Straussberger place to a protest meeting.

Already in the evening 15. June reported the radio in the American sector (RIAS) in detail on strikes in thatOst-Berliner Stalinallee. Since noon 16. June reported the transmitter in detail on the strikes and protests. Representatives of the strike movement went to the transmitter, in order to proclaim the general strike over the radio. The transmitter RIAS refused however this possibility to the strikers. To17. June called then the citizen of Berlin DGB - chairmen Ernst Scharnowski over the RIAS for the first time in addition up, the Ost-Deutschen are to visit their „Strausberger of places everywhere “. Despite a relatively reserved representation of the events in the radio one can assume the reportscrucially to the fact contributed that the customer of the protests in the capital spread extremely fast in the whole GDR.

Wednesday, 17. June

in the morning 17. June broke out in the entire area of the GDR somewhat,which later than rebellion 17. June into the historical books to be received should. The staffs above all large enterprises stepped with beginning of the Frühschicht into strike and were formed to demonstration courses, which arranged themselves into the centers of the larger cities. Inthe days of the rebellion the national dimension of the protests was not yet conscious to the western media and probably also most protesting. The RIAS about reported almost exclusively from Berlin. It actually came newer research according to in well over 500Places in the GDR to strikes, demonstrations or acts of violence against official persons or mechanisms.

The insurgent occupied 11 circle advice buildings, 14 Bürgermeistereien, 7 circle and a semidirect line of the SED. Further 9 prisons and 2 became office building of the Ministry for public security as well as 8 police stations, 4 VPKA and an agency of the BDVP conquers. More than twice as many mechanisms were pressed, occupation was however prevented.

Emphasis was appropriate for the “chemistry triangle” in Berlin and the traditional industrial regions, for instance over resounds. The numberat the protest did not take part can be determined exactly, data vary between 400.000 and 1.5 million humans. The various protests took place continuous very spontaneously, it gave practically neither over the day a going out goal planning, still genuine high-level personnel, those thatRebellion would supraregional have directed. Beside strikes and demonstrations it came at several places also to conquests of institutes for detention and release from prisoners. Isolated it came to arsons, most spectacularly was thereby the fire of the presenting HO - department store Columbus in Berlin.However in Berlin it gave thereby to 46 hurt policemen, of it 14 heavily, as well as destruction in the total value of over 500.000 Marks.

Most protesting were workers. It must be mentioned however that - considering the violent development and the direction of attackthe rebellion - however a whole set of cases are provable, where the workers terminated their rebellion voluntarily. Until 1989 were regarded the rebellion in the West German GDR research primarily as worker rebellion. In the meantime the literature is however from the term of the worker rebelliongone off, because to 17. June the resistance potential of the whole society against the communist dictatorship was activated. The citizen of Berlin worker protest against the standard increase worked as trip for a proper rising of the people, which in the bad tendency of the entire population - still strengthensafter the surprising course change of 10. June - their fertile soil found. Involved in the demonstrations were also such layers and occupational groups and their member, which had lost in the SBZ and GDR their privileges or parts of their properties, like large farmers,Landlord, owner of work, physicians, ministers, entnazifizierte teachers and officials, officers, former realms and former good-earning. Besides also West Berlin pushed in addition in Berlin.

The police was made excessive demands of with the development of the events in the long run hopelessly, partly overflowed a people policeman even to the demonstrators.It came however, particularly into east Berlin, also to bloody collisions between demonstrating and the police. The GDR government fled itself after Karl refuge under the protection of the Soviet authorities. One may therefore assume that without Soviet troops the rebellion probably notstruck down would be. (The comparison with the fall of the SED 1989 is interesting in this regard.)

at 14 o'clock was radiated an explanation of the Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl in the GDR broadcast: Therein expressly again the cancelling of the standard increases was explained. ThatRebellion however is „the work of troublemakers and fascist agents of foreign powers and their accomplices from German capitalistic monopolies “. „Workers and honest citizen “he requested all to help to seize and to the state organs over hand „the troublemakers “. This representation thatEvents as, counter-revolutionary Putschversuch produced from the outside already corresponded the later official Lesart 17. June in the GDR historiography.

reacted to completion

of the rebellion the Soviet authorities with the imposition of the state of emergency for 167 of the 217Districts of the GDR. Against 13 o'clock became by the Soviet commander of city a major general Pawel T. Dibrowa in east Berlin the state of emergency announces, only at the 11. July 1953 was again waived. With this proclaiming the martial law the Soviet Union took over officially againthe Regierungsgewalt over the GDR. Already the troops Soviet engaging in the districts deferred against noon or afternoon starting from 10 o'clock in Berlin, demonstrated above all operational readiness level, because with the arrival of the tanks the rebellion lost fast at momentum; toolarger attacks on military did not come it. Altogether 16 Soviet divisions with approximately 20,000 soldiers were in use, as well as approximately 8,000 member of the Kasernierten people police (KVP).

Although the Soviet authorities the situation already to 17. June to a large extent under controlbrought, it came in the days following on it still to protests, particularly to 18. June, in individual enterprises in addition, still into July inside. Thus became to 10. and 11. July at Carl Zeiss Jenaand to 16. and 17. July in the Buna work Schkopau struck. The strength 17. June 1953 was not no more approximately reached however.

Was intensive instead a first wave of arrests. With approximately 6,000 arrests by police, MfS and the Red Army became forwardsall 'troublemakers in such a way specified 'pursues. Most were again released after short time. The later prosecution was less excessive operated than the arrests. Possibly solidarizing many workers with their colleagues taken in detention has thereby a moderatingRole easily.


until today is not clear, as many humans actually died altogether during the rebellion and in his consequence by death sentences. Officially 51 humans were killed. According to a study of the center for time-historicalResearch potsdam (ZZF), which to new searches (2004) appoint themselves, lost at least 55 humans their life. To 17. June and the days after were shot 34 demonstrators and spectators by people policemen and Soviet soldiers or lost their life to thatConsequences of shot wounds. Executed by the death sentences of Soviet and GDR courts sieve. By the consequence of the prison conditions four persons and four humans died killed themselves in the detention. With the storm on a police station a demonstrator at heart failure died. Besidesfive member of the GDR safety organs were killed. So far the speech was in the west of 507 and in the GDR of 25 dead ones.

At least 18 Soviet soldiers were executed under martial law, because they refused itself shooting at demonstrators.

Most well-known victim surely is the demonstrator rolled over by a Soviet tank; this scene always regains as one of the few Filmmaterialien use.


  • Baring, Arnulf: The 17. June 1953, given change of the Federal Ministry for all-German questions Bonn 1957; Different new editions until 1983
  • Bruhn, Peter: 50. Years 17. June 1953/bibliography, citizen of Berlin science publishing house Berlin 2003 ISBN 3-8305-0399-7
  • Fricke, Karl William /Ilse Spittmann Rühle (Hg.), 17. June 1953. Worker rebellion in the GDR, 2. erw. Edition, edition Deutschlandfunk archives Cologne 1988 ISBN 3-8046-0318-1
  • boy,Hubertus: 17. June 1953. A German rebellion, Ullstein paperback publishing house Munich 2004.ISBN 3-548-36664-3
  • Koop, peoples: The 17. June. Putting one and reality, settler Berlin 2003. ISBN 3-88680-748-7
  • Kowalczuk, Ilko Sascha: 17. June 1953. Rising of the people in the GDR. Causes - expirations -Consequences, OD. Temmen Bremen 2003.ISBN 3-86108-385-X
  • Ulrich meal ore (Hg.): The 17. June 1953 - A rebellion for unit, right and liberty. Dietz Bonn 2003. ISBN 3-8012-4133-5

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