The June uprising in East Germany was not merely an incident in the resistance that has become part of daily life in the satellite areas; for this time the whole character of the resistance was suddenly, dramatically lifted to a new stage. The elementary, merely “convulsive” level of opposition to totalitarianism was left behind; the uprising reintegrated the consciousness of the workers, reaffirmed their role as a class, and in doing so, posed with unprecedented sharpness the problem of the future of Stalinist totalitarianism. Never again can Stalinism be what it was prior to the uprising: the memory of June 1953 has become in Europe a symbol, a hope, a portent.
Given both the ruthlessness and subtlety of Stalinist control, how could such a thing happen? The uprising had obviously not been “staged”; its leaders attested to its spontaneity; the improvised nature of all organized activity on June 16 in Berlin and on June 17 everywhere in Eastern Germany is indubitable. The Stalinists have spoken of “fascist provocateurs,” of the “Ostbureau” of the West German Social Democratic Party (SPD) but only as at most “provoking” the strikes, not as organizing th...
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