UNEQUAL FRIENDSHIP: ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DIFFERENCES ACROSS THE POLISH-EAST GERMAN OPEN BORDER, 1972-1980 Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 20, 2019
Creator
  • Skalski, Michael
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
Abstract
  • In 1972, Poland and the German Democratic Republic opened their mutual border to free travel. Although this arrangement worked for some time, tensions arose quickly contributing to the closing of the border in 1980. This thesis explores the economic, political, and social reasons for the malfunctioning of the open border in order to shed light on the relationship between Poland and East Germany in particular, and between society and dictatorship in general. It reveals that differences in economic conditions and ideological engagement in both countries resulted in mass buy-outs of East German goods and transnational contacts of dissidents, which alienated segments of the population and threatened the stability of the system. Seeing open borders as an important element of the “welfare dictatorship,” this study concludes that the GDR was reluctant to close the border again. Only fear of opposition developing in Poland forced the SED to rescind the free-travel agreement.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Bryant, Chad
  • Jarausch, Konrad Hugo
  • Auerbach, Karen
Degree
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016
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