Historical Social Research

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André Steiner: “Common Sense is Necessary.” East German Reactions to the Oil Crises of the 1970s. [Abstract]

This article examines the SED leadership’s perception of the global oil price increases at the beginning of the 1970s, as well as the consequences this had for the GDR. On this basis, the article then deals with the economic and political reactions within the GDR. The country waived a reform of the wage payment system and increased the use of brown coal in the production of electricity, heating, and elsewhere, as well as extended opencast mining in consequence. The intention was to also cut costs on heating oil, petrol, and diesel throughout the economy. The article reveals the difficulties of and limitations to the realization of this strategy and the unfortunate consequences. In the short-term, the political and economic survival of the GDR could be secured. In the long run, however, these processes played their part in the GDR’s economic collapse.

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