A work norm or norm in the central administration economy of the German Democratic Republic was the work to be done in a certain period of time. The labor standard included the description of the conditions, i.e. the technical and organizational requirements and the way in which the work was carried out. All this led to the calculation of the number of pieces of a product that could be produced in a certain time.
In the GDR, the establishment of labor standards was a state measure in the state-owned economy in order to adapt the relationship between labor productivity and performance to the changes in production. By increasing the existing standards, the wages of employees who were paid according to performance could be reduced. Brigadiers or operations managers feigned the fulfillment of the plan specifications by specifying premium-subsidized services that were actually not performed or not performed to the specified extent. This unauthorized change of the norms was referred to by the state with the catchphrase “ norm swing ”.
In return, the standard departments of the companies forced the employees to declare voluntary standard increases, which in turn led to state-determined standard increases.
Berlin, June 17, 1953
In June 1953, after a 10% increase in labor standards, this problem came to a head. This led to violent reactions from the SED . On June 14, 1953, the newspaper Neues Deutschland published an article under the heading “It's time to put the mallet aside”, in which it was asked to put an end to the “horse trading and the norm swing”. The resolutions for new standards would have to be enforced through conviction among the workforce, because "the most dangerous thing is that when dictatorial and administrative measures are introduced, we repel our working people instead of tying them ever tighter to us." On June 16, 1953, the SED Politburo announced on the radio that the administrative enforcement of the norm increases was wrong and recommended that the government repeal the relevant decision. The unrest of June 17, 1953 could not be stopped.
The playwright Heiner Müller addressed the problem in his plays The Wage Pusher and The Correction .
In the socialist system of the GDR, norm-breakers were people who worked beyond the prescribed level, the plan . In doing so, they set the standard high for their colleagues who feared having to work more for the same wages. Standard breakers were therefore unpopular and feared among workers, while they were courted by the political leadership and used for propaganda purposes. In particular, the miner Adolf Hennecke became known , who in 1948 exceeded the work standard with 387% in a prepared high-performance shift and was the first to receive the GDR national prize, 1st class, for science and technology in 1949 . Another example was the high-speed turning brigade of the Buckau-Wolf machine factory , which was honored with the GDR 2nd class national prize in 1951 "for triggering the high-speed turning movement in the German Democratic Republic".
- Chronicle of June 17, 1953: June 14, 1953 (Sunday). Federal Agency for Civic Education, accessed on August 31, 2009 .
- Chronicle of June 17, 1953: June 16, 1953 - Part I. Federal Agency for Civic Education, accessed on August 31, 2009 .
- Come on the norm swing. (No longer available online.) Berlin theater reviews, archived from the original on June 7, 2009 ; Retrieved August 31, 2009 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.