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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 1, 2013
Exhibitions
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East German Uprising Remembered
August 1, 2013   
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Photos, propaganda posters, newspaper clips and cartoons are on display at Warsaw’s History Meeting House venue in an exhibition about a June 1953 uprising in the former East Germany. The unrest marked the first major instance of strikes and demonstrations against the authorities in the former communist bloc.

Entitled Chcemy być wolni! Powstanie ludowe w NRD 17 czerwca 1953 (We Want to Be Free! The Civil Revolt in the German Democratic Republic of June 17, 1953), the exhibition marks 60 years since the East German revolt. It traces the origin, background and course of events on June 17, 1953 and the subsequent reaction of the authorities, including attempts by communist propaganda to discredit the protesters. The exhibition also shows how the revolt was commented on in East and West Germany as well as communist-era Poland.

One of the causes of the unrest was a political and economic crisis combined with the government’s policy of collectivization in agriculture, rising food prices and increased labor productivity standards for workers. All that contributed to social unrest and led to an increased number of East Germans trying to escape their country.

Under pressure from the Soviet Union, the East German authorities backpedaled on some price hikes and boosted the amount of goods available in stores. However, the authorities stuck to their decision to require workers to be more productive. That provoked an appeal to the prime minister from workers building a hospital in Berlin’s Friedrichshan district, who also threatened to go on strike.

On June 17, the commanders of the Soviet troops stationed in East Germany declared a state of emergency in Berlin and elsewhere that lasted nearly a month. Protests were brutally suppressed by tanks and armored vehicles, and the communist authorities began to persecute “provocateurs,” denouncing the uprising as a “counter-revolutionary coup.”

Until Sept. 15
History Meeting House; 20 Karowa St.
Admission is free.
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