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The 500.000th Volkswagen Beetle is rolling off the assembly line in West Germany. Things are looking up economically. In the GDR, however, the projected socialism produces more and more propaganda. In everyday life, people clearly feel the gulf between reality and ambition.

Stalin’s death raises hopes for change. Construction workers on Berlin’s Stalinallee are the first to demonstrate for better working conditions and free elections. Their protests are followed by rebellions in various other East German cities. On 17 June, the uprising in Berlin is violently suppressed.

The popular cartoon character “Mecki“ is used to mobilise citizens in the West to vote in the upcoming Bundestag elections. Sporting a Hitler beard in the commercial, Mecki strongly warns against not voting. Eventually, Konrad Adenauer wins the elections, becoming chancellor for the second time.

What else happened?

Täve Schur wins the Peace Race and inspires enthusiasm for cycling among GDR citizens.

The coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in London is the first major TV-event in West Germany.

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