This picture was taken during the Leipzig trade fair in March 1960. It shows the entrance
to the „central registration office for West German and West Berlin visitors to the fair“
(indicated on the small board above the entrance). A propagandist slogan has been put above
it: "The German Democratic Republic - rescuer of peace". In early 1960, the GDR government
had renewed calls for a peace treaty and for disarmament. At the same time, the GDR National
Defence Council was founded. Such peace initiatives must be seen in the context of East
Germany's struggle for international diplomatic recognition: shortly before the Paris summit
in which the East German leaders wished to participate as representatives of a sovereign
state, the words "rescuer of peace" attribute outstanding diplomatic importance to the GDR.
On the other hand, describing East Germany as a "peace-loving" state, or simply as a "peace
state", was a lasting feature of its propaganda and - like the description „anti-fascist
German state“ - served as a major strategy in claiming legitimacy. In sharp contrast, state
education furthered an increasing militarization of society from the mid-1950s onward, and
during the 1980s, the state used its secret police and judicial bodies to repress the
independent peace movement.