Were internal or external factors more important in explaining the collapse of the GDR?
The essay, ideally, needs to acknowledge different opinions found in the literature, and then explain why one line of thinking is right and the other one is wrong. I, personally, would argue that the GDR was not an independent and self-sustaining political actor and, therefore, regardless of its internal adequacy or inadequacy, would not have survived the collapse of the Communism hence, determining the external factors as primary cause of the collapse and the internal as secondary. The main points to look at would be:
- The impact of Soviet policies on shaping events in the GDR and role of Gorbachev in particular.
- Economic problems (ruined after the war + Soviet reparations + planned economy inside vs market economy outside + accumulation of foreign debt).
- Awakening of civil society (church) leading to mass demonstrations, formation of opposition (though not strong enough to bring the regime down).
- Leadership problems (lack of legitimacy both, internally and externally, failure to recognise the need for change, failure to create national Identity).