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Knabe, Hubertus


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Bild - Germany | 17/06/2013

Hubertus Knabe on the lessons of the 1953 rebellion

Sixty years ago today the Soviet troops put a stop to the rebellion of June 17 in East Berlin. The revolutionary dynamic always follows the same pattern, historian Hubertus Knabe writes in the tabloid Bild: "The people are a patient entity. But if you test their patience too much they can suddenly rebel, as we are seeing now in Turkey and as happened two years ago in Egypt - and in Eastern Germany in 1953, when the strike of a few construction workers turned overnight into a full-blown national uprising. Things can then get very dangerous for those in power. If they bring in the police  this often only strengthens the protests. If they comply with a few demands, the people feel encouraged to demand more. Mostly those in power try a combination of both - and only worsen the situation. Most revolutions come completely unexpectedly. Only afterwards does it become clear how much frustration was boiling under the surface. The rulers of the world would therefore do well to watch carefully for the first warning signals. Democracies have the major advantage that discontent can be expressed in small doses. And in regularly held elections, so that it doesn't have to come to a big bang for changes to be made."

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