East german intershop

As West Germany was reorganised and gained independence from its occupiers, the German Democratic Republic was established in East Germany in 1949. The creation of the two states solidified the 1945 division of Germany. [24] On 10 March 1952, (in what would become known as the " Stalin Note ") Stalin put forth a proposal to reunify Germany with a policy of neutrality, with no conditions on economic policies and with guarantees for "the rights of man and basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, press, religious persuasion, political conviction, and assembly" and free activity of democratic parties and organizations. [25] This was turned down; reunification was not a priority for the leadership of West Germany, and the NATO powers declined the proposal, asserting that Germany should be able to join NATO and that such a negotiation with the Soviet Union would be seen as a capitulation. There have been several debates about whether a real chance for reunification had been missed in 1952.

In addition to these highly bureaucratic transactions, there was an area of ​​trade relations that is largely unknown. In 1966, a special "Department for Commercial Coordination" was established in the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Its director was Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski, who became Minister for Foreign Trade in 1975. He became famous in 1983 for negotiating a line of credit for the GDR in the billions of dollars with then-Bavarian Premier Franz Josef Strauss. His department, known as KoKo for short, was responsible for procuring hard currency by any and all means. In 1976, the department was spun off and became one of the most powerful institutions in the country. What exactly KoKo did to get Western money, Worst says, is "a major research area for the future."

From the outset, the GDR regime was particularly interested in acquiring as much hard currency as it could. High quality goods produced in GDR were often earmarked for export to hard currency markets, but in the interest of generating as much Western currency as possible, the regime set up a network of so-called Intershops targeting Westerners traversing GDR territory. These shops were typically located in transportation hubs such as train stations, airports, ferry terminals and even on the platform of the subway line servicing West Berlin that ran through East Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse Station. These offered Western goods at prices well below what one would have paid in the West but were viewed with disdain by many Westerners. I recall seeing the kiosks on the Friedrichstrasse station platform in 1989 and being told by some West Berliners that it was “unscrupulous” to shop there as the money flowed directly into the hands of the Communist regime.

East german intershop

east german intershop


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