The communist German Democratic Republic, founded in 1949 in the Soviet-occupied zone of post-war Germany is, for many people, epitomized by the Berlin Wall; Soviet tanks and surveillance by the secret security police, the Stasi, appear to be central. But is this really all there is to the GDR¹s history? How did people come to terms with their situation and make new lives behind the Wall? When the social history of the GDR in the 1960s and 1970s is explored, new patterns become evident. A fragile stability emerged in a period characterized by 'consumer socialism', international recognition and détente. Growing participation in the micro-structures of power, and conformity to the unwritten rules of an increasingly predictable system, suggest increasing accommodation to dominant norms and conceptions of socialist 'normality'. By exploring the ways in which lower-level functionaries and people at the grass roots contributed to the formation and transformation of the GDR from industry and agriculture, through popular sport and cultural life, to the passage of generations and varieties of social experience the contributors collectively develop a more complex approach to the history of East Germany.