This was joined by the measures taken by the CC SED, as part of their mistaken policy of liquidating the petit and middle bourgeoisie of both city and country, which in some places took the rather ugly forms of insular administrative planning and mass repressions directed also at workers. In addition, the petit-bourgeoisie's deprivation of ration coupons for fat, meat and sugar was particularly hurtful, given the absence of these products in the consumer market.
Functionaries of the SED and of the State apparatus, under the influence of the decision that emerged from the 2nd conference of the SED "on the construction of socialism, regardless of any difficulties," started to lose contact with the bulk of the populace and increasingly often to rely on management and administrative methods vis-a-vis members of SED, using the harmful methods widely employed within the CC SED Secretariat as a guide. In a number of instances, SED district and regional committees completely supplanted government organs, bringing under their authority police operations, arrests, the day-to-day administration of enterprises, etc.
All these, as well as other unhealthy developments, mentioned in the Soviet Government resolution of 6 June, were the prime causes of the disorders and agitations that took place in the GDR on 17-19 June.
Already, long before 17 June, in certain areas in the GDR there were sporadic worker strikes within a few enterprises, directed against increases in output norms, which were being instituted in accordance with government and isolated GDR ministries' directives, without the accompaniment of corresponding organizational and technical measures and political work among workers. The initiator and the primary author of the policy to increase output norms was [SED General Secretary Walter] Ulbricht, who, in a number of public speeches, rather actively stressed the importance of these measures. The CC SED did not pay attention to these short-lived strikes and only under heavy pressure from SCC announced, on 8 June, sloppily formulated directives on the inadmissibility of overreaching during the course of the campaign to raise output norms; this, however, was not accompanied by any organizational measures on the part of the party CC, and the announcement, for the most part, fell on deaf ears.
2. Events in Berlin on 16-19 June
On 14 June the state security organs of the GDR and the SED city committee of Berlin received information on plans to strike against the increase of productivity norms for construction workers in Berlin, in particular, on the Stalinallee construction site. However, they did not deem this information to be of any importance and did not report of this to the leadership of CC SED and SCC. The events that followed were completely unexpected to the leadership of GDR.
In the evening of 15 June the construction workers in Berlin announced categorical demands to repeal the increase in the productivity norms, of which they [the workers] were informed without any prior explanations through a withholding of corresponding sums from their paychecks. The Berlin organization of SED and the magistrate of East Berlin did not react in any way to these demands.
As came to be known later, agents from West Berlin and as yet unknown traitors from the GDR trade unions were actively involved in inciting the ranks of the workers.
In the morning of 16 June, 2,000 out of a total of 35,000-40,000 construction workers in Berlin struck in the city centre. They had a strike committee, which maintained ties with West Berlin. The construction workers decided to march to the GDR Statehouse, located on Leipzigerstrasse, right on the border between the Soviet sector and the Western sector of Berlin. The construction workers were joined on the way by large groups of West Berlin provocateurs, carrying placards directed against the government, with demands for the resignation of the GDR government that had made mistakes, as well as with demands for the lowering of prices by 40% in the commercial stores of KhO [Konsum-Handels-Organisation]. Crowds of onlookers also joined the demonstration, so that there were gathered some 5,000 people at the GDR Statehouse.