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A Glimpse of Freedom: Allied Occupation and Political Resistance in East Germany

Author

Listed:
  • Luis Martinez

    (University of Chicago)

  • Jonas Jessen

    (the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin))

  • Guo Xu

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

This paper studies costly political resistance in a non-democracy. When Nazi Germany surrendered in May 1945, 40% of the designated Soviet occupation zone was initially captured by the western Allied Expeditionary Force. This occupation was short-lived: Soviet forces took over after less than two months and installed an authoritarian regime in what became the German Democratic Republic (GDR). We exploit the idiosyncratic line of contact separating Allied and Soviet troops within the GDR to show that areas briefly under Allied occupation had higher incidence of protests during the only major episode of political unrest in the GDR before its demise in 1989 - the East German Uprising of 1953. These areas also exhibited lower regime support during the last free elections in 1946. We argue that even a “glimpse of freedom" can foster civilian opposition to dictatorship.

Suggested Citation

  • Luis Martinez & Jonas Jessen & Guo Xu, 2020. "A Glimpse of Freedom: Allied Occupation and Political Resistance in East Germany," Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC) Working Papers 18, Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:esocpu:18
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    Cited by:

    1. Deter, Max & Lange, Martin, 2023. "Are the supporters of socialism the losers of capitalism? Conformism in East Germany and transition success," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    2. Jessen, Jonas, 2022. "Culture, children and couple gender inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    3. Grossmann, Jakub & Jurajda, Štepán & Roesel, Felix, 2021. "Forced Migration, Staying Minorities, and New Societies: Evidence from Post-War Czechoslovakia," IZA Discussion Papers 14191, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Christian Ochsner, 2023. "Hostility, Population Sorting, and Backwardness: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Red Army after WWII," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp768, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    German Democratic Republic; East Germany; World War II; Dictatorship; Protests; Soviet Union; Line of Contact; Regression Discontinuity Design;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • P26 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - Property Rights

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