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Securing the Communist State

The Reconstruction of Coercive Institutions in the Soviet Zone of Germany and Romania, 1944–1948

Liesbeth van de Grift

From Berlin to Bucharest, from Warsaw to Sofia, Soviet tanks crossed national borders across East Central Europe at the end of the Second World War. The arrival of the Red Army marked an important turn in history. Within only a few years, the often unpopular communist parties developed into political organizations with mass followings. They managed to seize power, eliminate political opposition to their rule, and purge the state apparatus of undesirable personnel.
In Securing the Communist State, Liesbeth van de Grift provides a new understanding of these organizations using recently disclosed material from the communist archives in Berlin and Bucharest. She reveals how these communist parties gained control over the security apparatus after 1945 in East Central Europe from a transitional justice perspective, focusing on purges and personnel policies. This book shows that the personal break after 1945 was not as radical as is often thought.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 202Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/2
978-0-7391-7178-3 • Hardback • December 2011 • $84.00 • (£54.95)
978-0-7391-7179-0 • eBook • December 2011 • $82.99 • (£54.95)
Liesbeth van de Grift is a Dutch historian and postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University.


Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. From Democracy to Dictatorship, 1918-1944

Chapter 3. Postwar Reconstruction and Transitional Politics, 1944-1948

Chapter 4. ‘Control Must Rest Firmly in our Hands’: The Reconstruction of the Security Apparatus in the Soviet Zone of Occupation

Chapter 5. ‘A regime, not a government has changed’: The Reconstruction of the Security Apparatus in Romania

Chapter 6. Control versus Chaos: The Soviet Zone in Germany and Romania Compared

Chapter 7. Epilogue


About the Author

The author goes into great detail on the structure of the new police in both countries and the numerous reorganizations that were present.
Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis

The central question posed in this invaluable study is ‘How did the German and Romanian communists manage to win control over the police and army and transform them into loyal pillars of their own regime?’ In providing answers Liesbeth van de Grift adopts a non-teleological approach, one which seeks to take into account the role of domestic political forces and discusses not only the discontinuities of the period but also the continuities. She examines the similarities and differences in the courses the Soviet-occupied countries adopted after the Second World War and explains the strategies the communists in Romania and East Germany employed to overcome their lack of legitimacy, notably their reform of the police and the army. Her careful analysis adds significantly to the political history of Romania and East Germany, as well as to the literature on the dynamics of transitology.
Dennis Deletant, University College, London and Georgetown University

This is an important contribution to our understanding of the transition from fascism to communism in Eastern Europe after 1945. Liesbeth van de Gríft offers a clear, well-researched comparative analysis of how the police forces of the communist regimes in East Germany and Romania were formed after war and of the key role they played in the establishment of these regimes.
Richard Bessel, University of York