Od pouliční šmeliny ke „strýčkům ze Západu“. Černý trh pozdního socialismu v česko-německém kontextu
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From Wheeling and Dealing in the Street to the ‘Uncles from the West’: The Black Market of Late Socialism in the Czech-German Context
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This article compares and contrasts the black markets in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s and 1980s. It first briefly discusses the social conditions of the Communist dictatorships, which determined the existence, and successful reproduction, of the black market. It then seeks to identify the common features in illegal trade in the two countries and also those specific to only one country or the other. The author focuses mainly on two sectors of the black market at that time – namely, the illegal trade in foreign consumer goods and the criminal exchange of hard currency. He discusses the figures who were the driving forces in the black market, and the commodities which they preferred to deal in. In Czechoslovakia, unlike East Germany, a special social stratum of underhand moneychangers, called veksláci, had a strong position on the local black market, and profited from the sale of hard (Western) currency, coupons to the exclusive Tuzex shops (that had scarce Western goods), and consumer goods. In East Germany, it was mainly family members, friends, and acquaintances from West Germany who served as the middlemen in obtaining scarce goods. Nevertheless, there, too, organized networks of black-marketeers were formed, in which citizens of the People’s Republic of Poland occupied a privileged position, thanks mainly to the relative ease with which Poles could travel abroad; and they too influenced the nature of the East German black market.
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