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Forming the GDR and Handing Over Authority

Pictured: A medal commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the German Democratic Republic (1949-1979); Inspector General of the Group of General Inspectors of the Soviet Union Ministry of Defense, Marshal V. I. Chuikov, wearing his GDR medal underneath his Deputy of the Supreme Soviet flag pin at a special military parade in Berlin, 7 October 1979; the award citation accompanying the medal given to each recipient.

When considering the application of leadership theories to real-life scenarios, it is important for leaders to know how and when to delegate duties to their subordinates. Delegation involves the transfer of tasks and the authority to make decisions about those tasks to other team members. It is the final leadership style covered in Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory.

Delegating entails giving up power to another person, which is often difficult for the leader to do. However, effective leaders understand the importance of entrusting authority to their associates, and they are successful in handing over this power. The theory is applicable to the business world as well as to non-profit, governmental, and military organizations. Throughout his career, Marshal Chuikov practiced situational leadership (later posts will explore this topic more), and his service in post-war Berlin as the Chairman of the Soviet Control Commission is no exception.

Colonel-General Chuikov and the 8th Guards Army were involved in the storming of Berlin and served as part of the Soviet occupation forces after the Great Patriotic War was over. Germany was occupied and divided into four zones following the surrender on 8 May 1945. The four major Allied powers (the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France) were tasked with administering their respective zones. However, tensions between the Western Allies and the Soviets began to rise following the war.

Eventually, Great Britain and the United States merged their respective zones in 1947. The German Federal Republic (FRG, commonly known as West Germany) was formed on 21 September 1949, following tensions between the Soviet Union and the Western powers. A few days later on 7 October 1949, the Soviets created the German Democratic Republic (GDR, also known as East Germany) out of their zone of occupation and formally adopted the Constitution.

The New York Times reported Moscow’s announcement of Army General Chuikov’s appointment as Chairman of the Soviet Control Commission on 7 November 1949. The task of the Soviet Control Commission in Germany was to oversee the activities of the GDR in light of the Potsdam Pact. Four days later on 11 November 1949, Chuikov personally delivered a notification to Premier Otto Grotewohl’s East German Cabinet announcing that administrative functions were symbolically and officially handed over to and executed by the newly-established government. This was a correct action to take to support the legitimacy and authority of the new entity. While there was still oversight by the Soviets, Grotewohl and his staff were empowered to take the lead on conducting GDR administrative duties.


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