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Death at the Berlin Wall$
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Pertti Ahonen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546305

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546305.001.0001

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The Wall dead and the rise of détente

The Wall dead and the rise of détente

(p.133) 5 The Wall dead and the rise of détente
Death at the Berlin Wall

Pertti Ahonen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter follows the advance of détente into the late 1960s, a formative period that set enduring patterns. The partial relaxation of Cold War tensions had divergent effects in the two Germanys. In the West, East–West distinctions grew more blurred and the Berlin Wall became an increasingly accepted entity. In the East, greater continuities prevailed, and the authorities were caught in a fundamental contradiction: how to balance their desire for détente's anticipated gains with their fear of its potentially destabilizing domestic consequences. East Berlin's response was a policy of Abgrenzung (warding off), a multidimensional effort aimed at stressing the GDR's sovereignty while shielding it from unwanted influences. The authoritarian controls inherent in the policy were most blatant at the country's Western borders, especially at the Wall. Deaths at the Wall, three of which this chapter explores at length, embodied the potential gains and pitfalls of the GDR's policies.

Keywords:   Berlin, Berlin Wall, GDR, division, legitimacy, death, Hermann Döbler, Lothar Schleusener, Jörg Hartmann, détente

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