Institution Granting Degree
The University of Tennessee
While East Germany has been regarded since 1949 as the most subservient of the USSR's allies, developments in the latter part of. the last decade, especially with regard to the West Berlin question, worked in such a way as to impel the GDR's leadership to attempt to assume a more important position within the Bloc. The intention of the Ulbricht government was not to achieve independence from the .USSR, but rather to elevate itself to a status from which it could exercise a veto over certain elements of Soviet policy. The area of greatest concern to Ulbricht was the Soviet policy toward the West. The USSR's pursuit of a policy of detente with the West, which required a demonstration of Communist "goodwill" on the West Berlin problem, was viewed by the Ulbricht regime as a threat to the vital interests of the GDR.
In the years after 1968, the West Berlin issue came to represent an increasingly divisive matter in relations between the GDR and the USSR. Ulbricht's reluctance to allow a demonstration of Soviet good intentions in West Berlin ultimately led to his removal as First Secretary of the SED in 1971. He was replaced by Erich Honecker, a man who has consistently exhibited his desire to bring the GDR to a position of more thorough compliance with Soviet wishes. In this effort, Honecker has demonstrated, as Ulbricht also did, the close relationship between foreign policy questions such as West Berlin and domestic considerations. The GOR's efforts to develop a sense of national consciousness in recent years illustrates the .impact that foreign and domestic matters have upon each other.