German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: This article comes from the Notizbuch des Agitators (Agitator’s Notebook), issued by the SED’s Department of Agitation. It was published from 1950 to 1955, after which the SED concluded that it was difficult to put out something suitable for agitators in all districts, so it ceased publication and tried putting out similar periodicals at the regional (Bezirk) level. This essay, published just after the uprising of 17 June 1953, provides guidance for agitators in dealing with the aftermath.

The source: Notizbuch des Agitators, #14/1953 (June).

Why Must We Increase our Alertness?

“Losses make one wise.” The truth of this old proverb has been made been made clear to many people in the GDR in recent weeks.

“That will not happen to us again,” say the majority of those who fell prey on 17 June to the rabble-rousers and agents of foreign warmongers. These people who have learned from their misfortune will examine more carefully in the future people who suddenly claim to be “representatives” of the workers, but who in fact organize activities that harm them.

MAGAZINE COVERThe events of 17 June prove that we are still not sufficiently alert, though we have talked enough about it and have certainly had sufficient evidence in the past of the underhanded means that the imperialists use to disrupt our peaceful construction work. Only, for example, the alertness of our workers and security organs stopped the plan of the scoundrel Burianek who, paid by the Americans, planned to blow up the railway bridge in Erkner. In the same way we stopped the Ostbüro-paid bandit Müller’s plan to destroy the bridge at Finow and the new sluice at Paretz. These and many similar plans have been caught in time and stopped.

Who are the saboteurs and what is the goal of their destructive activity?

The criminals, saboteurs, agents, and West German hirelings who are trying to disrupt our construction with rabble-rousing, sabotage, arson, and murder are only the tools of the real culprits, the American and German monopolists. As early as 1951, the American Congress authorized $100 million to finance espionage and sabotage in the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies. This is widely known. What is less widely known is that the American government approved another $96 million for “anti-communist underground activity” on 13 June 1953. The notorious West German sabotage and subversion organizations have received a great deal of this money, which they use to finance agents in the GDR.

Aside from a few misled workers, most of those who organized the strikes, riots and arson on 17 June, as court proceedings have shown, were former Fascists, agents, and provocateurs acting for foreign and West German monopolists. Their goal was and remains the stopping of any peaceful solution of the German Question. They wanted to incorporate the GDR into the American zone of control, which means war. They want to give the people’s factories back to their old owners and to take the land away that farmers got through land reform and give it back to the old big landowners. In short, they wanted a return to the rule of the monopolists and Junkers.

These enemies of the people have learned nothing from the shameful collapse of their Putsch attempt on 17 June, and speak and write openly that they want to cause new unrest in the GDR and extend it, if possible, to other people’s democracies.

Why are our enemies increasing their subversive activities against peace?

Because they find themselves in a difficult position. Their plans for war in the Far East have failed. The powerful and growing movement for peace, for peaceful negotiations and for an armistice in Korea has made the imperialist position more difficult and has changed the balance of power to the benefit of the peace camp.

The American imperialists and their reawakened revanchist German monopolists are making desperate attempts to hinder improvements in the international situation and in East-West relations.

The important lesson we must draw from 17 June is this: Given the reality of a divided Germany, the imperialist occupation of West Germany and the existence of the imperialist bridgehead in West Berlin, all peace-loving Germans, and particularly the citizens of the German Democratic Republic, must be doubly alert.

How do we frustrate the criminal plans of our opponent?

Alertness means that all those who work for peace must implement the government’s new course in a speedy and unbureaucratic manner, which will bring a rapid improvement in the lives of our workers, and keep their eyes and ears open.

Our enemies are attempting to sow suspicion and mistrust against the party of the workers and its functionaries through raging rabble-rousing. They are spreading the most absurd and awful rumors and slanders, following Hitler’s principle that the bigger the lie, the more readily it is believed. They use existing difficulties to incite the workers against their own state. The enemy is not interested in eliminating such difficulties, but rather the opposite. They want to increase them. They therefore spread slogans among the masses that would have the worst results for them. For example, they encourage the farmers not to deliver foodstuffs to the state.

To whose advantage is that?

Not only the farmer is hurt when his products sit unsold in the barns, but also those in the cities for whom prices will rise. That is clearly bad for the workers and good for our enemies, for their rabble-rousing is most effective when the workers are dissatisfied. For the same reason, the provocateurs try to hinder the implementation of the government’s new course. To the degree that the situation in the GDR improves and problems and difficulties in the factories are eliminated, the rabble-rousers lose ground. They recently have been trying even harder to confuse our workers with political slanders.

When, for example, certain people have recently raised the question of the Oder-Neisse line again. It is no longer a matter of clarifying the issues — we have spoken extensively and often about the issue — but rather it is an open incitement to war. We have a law against war incitement, however, and we will use it.

We all know what war means. There is no going back. To protect against new misery, to be alert, means concrete, combative opposition to false enemy arguments about the connection between meeting the needs of people and the strengthening of democratic government. We will quickly be able to see if we are dealing with people who are simply chattering about what they have had whispered to them or if they are those who are intentionally and systematically spreading rumors or slogans to incite the workers. We must act resolutely against the rumor-spreaders, shutting up the filthy mouths of the rabble-rousers. We must uncover those who are often well-hidden, and who sabotage the new decisions of our government or try to render them ineffective through bureaucratic stubbornness. If each worker, farmer, and housewife in factories, towns, and shops keeps his eyes and ears open to uncover bureaucracy and problems and works to eliminate them, the enemy will be isolated and harmless.

By a combative approach, and by rejecting decisively provocative demands and assertions, we will discover the provocateurs.

For example, a provocateur at a meeting the Buna Works said: “One gets 25 years in prison for saying anything against Wilhelm Pieck.” The speaker demanded a single piece of evidence to support this underhanded slander. The provocateur could not provide one, and was immediately nailed by the speaker, who said: “You cannot prove your charge because it is a bald-faced lie and because you are a liar!” This is the way the working class must expose all provocateurs.

The driller Hering from the Transformer Factory “Karl Liebknecht” in Berlin was right when he said: “We are partly to blame for what happened, for we were not alert enough and did not fight enemy rumors strongly enough.”

It is particularly important that workers, farmers, and all people of good will guard their machines and workplaces to keep the enemy from doing any damage. One cannot always recognize the dirty aims of provocateurs and spies. It is necessary to compare words and deeds to detect the enemy.

Those who believe that the government’s new course gives them the freedom to carry on their subversive and damaging activity are wrong. We do not talk with provocateurs. They will be revealed and turned over to the peace-loving men of our state organs.

Increased alertness is our best weapon against all our enemies!

Last edited 24 November 2023

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