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On May 8, 1945, when Germany surrendered unconditionally to
the Allied powers, the mold for its divided future already had
been cast. The Yalta Conference of February of that year and the
Potsdam Conference of July-August left, at least in Western
minds, the perception that ultimately post-World War II Germany
would be a demilitarized and, to a degree, deindustrialized state
of undetermined but shrunken borders. In dividing Germany into
occupation zones, however, the Allies wittingly or unwittingly
doomed such a state to failure from the start. After the common
enemy was defeated, the traditional forces dividing the Soviet
Union from the West reasserted themselves, and occupied Germany
became the initial focus of conflict.
Scholars still argue about who was truly responsible for the
making of two Germanies. Opposing positions had emerged among the
Allies while the war was being fought, and, in the postwar
division of Germany into occupation zones, each occupying power
intended to establish a local administration in its own image.
The Soviet Union was no more likely to acquiesce to a Germany
united as a Western-style democracy than the United States was to
accept a united Germany under a communist dictatorship.
Compromise by either side would have required a retreat from
ideals and a degree of faith in the good intentions of the other
side that simply did not exist.
Although neither side may have recognized initially that the
"temporary" division of Germany would become permanent, the
pragmatic and suspicious Joseph Stalin probably accepted the
possibility much more quickly than did the Western leaders.
Stalin took the first step toward the institution of East German
statehood when he began creating a centralized, armed military
force in the Soviet zone in October 1945 under the guise of a
Data as of July 1987