This new book investigates communist rule in East Germany from its establishment as a sphere of Soviet influence after World War II to its rapid collapse after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Using newly available archive material, the early chapters trace the emergence of the GDR out of the Soviet zone of occupation. Later chapters cover the dramatic episodes of the 1953 uprising against Soviet dominance and the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The subsequent stabilisation of the GDR and the establishment of an uneasy compromise between the ruling elites and the population in the later 1960s and 1970s are explained with reference to a range of internal social, economic and political factors. The disintegration of the regime in 1989 is explained in the light of : The chronic weakness of Gorbachev's Soviet Union. The bravery of the protestors. The enduring appeal of West Germany's social market economy. Political pluralism. This clear and comprehensive survey marshals secondary and original primary sources in order to give a unique insight into the GDR's struggles and achievements.