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By Jeannette Z. Madarasz

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In spite of the efforts of the MfS, parts of the population continuously circumvented the ideological demands of the state and were able to establish complex structures of interaction. This subversive behaviour developed partly in response to increased politicisation under Honecker at the beginning of the 1970s. Its presence acknowledged the general expectation that the GDR would continue to exist for a long time, perhaps forever. The population was getting increasingly used to this prospect and searched for ways to live with the dictatorship.

Much later, in 1993, a survey produced statistics that highlighted the extent of integration achieved under Honecker. 4% denied that the GDR had been an attempt to create a fairer society. 1%. 6% denied this claim. 40 These results, taken years after the collapse of the regime, highlight the existence of a basic link between the former GDR and most of its citizens, that not only survived the arrival of democracy but also seem to have been strengthened by the long-term experience of political freedom.

After 1971, Honecker used the new policy ‘Einheit von Wirtschafts- und Sozialpolitik’ to stabilise society and achieve loyalty by providing a socially secure environment. 18 In a similar attempt to mollify specific sections of society, Honecker began to improve the relations with the Churches. Although the BEK was officially recognised three months before Ulbricht’s resignation, it was Honecker who granted the concessions which were crucial to its establishment as an effective institution. In June 1971, the state licensed the official information bulletin Mitteilungsblatt des BEK.

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