Education system in the GDR

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Structure of the school system in the GDR

The education system in the GDR had existed since 1946 in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ) with the law to democratize the German school as a unified school .

The education system was fundamentally reformed twice. In 1959, the law on the socialist development of the school system introduced the ten-class general polytechnic high school (POS) as a uniform type of school for all pupils . The stipulations of the law on the uniform socialist education system of 1965 determined the school system of the GDR until their end.

The state had the monopoly on education in the GDR. The centrally organized education system was thus under the SED . Margot Honecker was Minister of Education for many years from 1963 to 1989 . With one exception ( Katholische Theresienschule Berlin-Weißensee ), there were no state-approved private schools .

The basis of the state educational mandate was the education for a socialist personality determined by an “ideologically indoctrinated pedagogy” . The party and the Ministry for State Security monitored adherence to socialist loyalty among teachers and pupils or students at schools, colleges and universities . The regime took over complete control over orphaned children or social orphans from an early age, for example, through the home education controlled by the MfV . Among other things, young people with behavioral problems or those who were critical of the regime had to fear re-education measures in so-called special homes or youth work centers operated by youth welfare services , in which in some cases highly repressive educational methods were used. The aim of the GDR university system was to attract a “party-loyal power elite”. The state exerted influence on who was allowed to study at all, and also determined the career choices of academics via a state graduation regulation after the end of their studies. There was consequently no guaranteed freedom of career choice .

Educational goals

The Ministry of Public Education in Wilhelmstrasse 1952

The Education Act of 1965 formulated the goal of educating "socialist personalities that were developed on all sides and harmoniously". The special education, which took place in skilled worker training, extended secondary schools (EOS) and special schools , study institutions such as technical and engineering schools as well as colleges and universities, and various further training courses , built on a high general education for all young people that the POS was supposed to convey .

The general education imparted at the POS was strongly oriented towards science and technology. A special feature was the polytechnic lessons , which were intended to create a close connection to the world of work at an early stage and to familiarize the students with "socialist production". The interlinking of theoretical and practical training, of learning and productive activity was also sought in further educational institutions.

An important principle of the education system of the GDR was the "unity of education and upbringing". The children and young people should become full members of the “socialist society” and identify with the state. The entire school system was heavily ideologized and militarized. The ideological system of the GDR pervaded the contents of several school subjects. Military education was part of school education , from 1978 also as specific military instruction . The students were expected to be committed to the social system of the GDR. The leisure activities at schools by the pioneering organization Ernst Thälmann and the Free German Youth were also ideologically oriented. These included in particular the pioneer afternoons , when members of the pioneer organization of a class met regularly under the guidance of the class teacher.

In addition to the technical requirements, political criteria such as the social commitment of the students, later also the obligation of the boys to a longer service in the NVA , the parents' profession or membership in mass organizations or the SED decisive.

Structure of the education system

With the last major amendment in 1965 and the restructuring in the 1970s, the education system of the GDR remained almost unchanged until German reunification and was as follows:

Day nurseries

The Ministry of Health was responsible for supervising the crèche system, but the crèches were part of the school system. The day nursery took in children from a few weeks to three years of age. For the mothers, it was necessary to observe a protective period before the children were allowed to go to the crèche on weekdays in order not to damage or destroy the mother-child bond during the first five to six weeks of life.

The main task of the crèches was to look after the children. The medical care and monitoring were very well developed and included regular various examinations, both on the physical as well as on the psychological and cognitive development of the children. Speech therapists or specialists treated any language or psychomotor disorders at an early stage. In addition, the day nursery took care of the complete vaccination protection; parents could not refuse vaccinations.

Early educational support for children began in the day nurseries. Since the 1960s, work has therefore been carried out according to a state education plan with the title “Pedagogical tasks and working methods in day care centers”, comparable to the state “education and upbringing plan” for kindergartens. Getting the children used to a fixed, regular daily routine, systematic intellectual preoccupation beginning with the completion of the first year of life, lots of sport and exercise in the fresh air, being dry before the end of the second year of life, intelligence-shaping games, making music, painting and much more were the focus of the daily upbringing of the children. Learning to be polite and non-violent, helping one another, behaving in good manners, observing rules and having the day together were important elements of daycare and aimed at adapting interpersonal behavior to the norms of the collective .

The day nurseries followed the principle of the day school, i.e. they were open all day, usually from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., sometimes until 7 p.m. In many cities, week nurseries were set up in which the children were admitted for working days, but sometimes for a longer period of time, depending on the circumstances (for example if the single mother fell ill or for shift workers).

The crèche fee charged as a contribution to meals was 27.50 marks per child per month. In the 1980s, there were crèche places for 80% of the children, in some metropolitan areas even 99%. The childcare ratio was 1: 5, and three nurses or day nursery teachers looked after 15 children. Since, as a rule, some children were not in the facility every day, the number of children registered was often much higher.

The job profiles of baby nurses and nursery teachers were traditionally - like all educational professions in the GDR - academic professions and required several years of technical college studies.


The kindergarten looked after children from the age of four and had the task of promoting the children until they were ready for school. Unlike in the Federal Republic of Germany, the kindergarten teachers had a clearly defined educational mandate and were consequently subordinate to the Ministry of National Education. In the kindergarten, the children were taught simple set theory (arithmetic with chopsticks in the number range up to 10), painting, singing and creative design ( e.g. kneading ), the children made their first attempts at writing. The education in kindergarten already contained civic elements and began with a political education in the sense of socialism. Occasionally, however, there were also denominational kindergartens.

Poly-technical high school

Back to school in the GDR, 1980
8th grade pupils of the 23rd Artur Becker Polytechnic School in Berlin-Lichtenberg visits the Army Museum in Karlshorst

The Polytechnische Oberschule (POS) was the basic type of school in the GDR from 1959 onwards. The majority of the children started school at the age of six or seven after a medical examination of their fitness for school. The reference date for this was May 31; Children who turned six after that day usually did not start school until the following year. Exceptions to this rule (with the deadline of August 31) were possible at the request of the parents and with the consent of the doctor who carried out the school aptitude test. Downgrading due to developmental delay was rare.

From December 1959 the POS was divided into the lower level (1st – 4th grade) and the upper level (5th – 10th grade). This was further differentiated with the School Act of 1965. The structure now comprised three levels, the lower level (1st – 3rd grade), in which the fundamentals were taught by specially trained lower level teachers , the intermediate level (4th – 6th grade) - from the 5th grade onwards, the subjects were taught around Russian as a first foreign language and further subjects (from the 5th grade: history, geography, biology; from the 6th grade additionally: physics) significantly expanded - and the upper level (7th – 10th grade, now additionally from the 7th grade: Chemistry and optional English or French; in grade 10 astronomy), in which polytechnical instruction played a greater role.

The POS was concluded with written final exams in Russian, German, mathematics and a natural science (choice between physics, chemistry and biology) as well as a sports examination and subsequent two to five oral exams. The final certificate from the POS corresponded roughly to today's secondary school leaving certificate (Mittelreife) and is now generally recognized as such. This qualification entitles the holder to take up vocational training and to study at one of the numerous technical schools (depending on the field of study, they are equivalent to West German vocational schools, technical schools or predecessor institutions of technical colleges). Ending the POS prematurely after the eighth or less often after the ninth grade was possible at the request of the parents and with the consent of the school. With the appropriate leaving certificates, it was possible to complete vocational training in certain professions, mainly in the areas of industrial production, handicraft and agriculture, which, however, often lasted a year longer and ended with a partial skilled worker qualification. Nowadays, a 9th grade leaving certificate from the POS is generally equivalent to a secondary school leaving certificate, as is an 8th grade leaving certificate in conjunction with a subsequent skilled work certificate.

A second foreign language was necessary for admission to the EOS or vocational training with a high school diploma.

Teaching proportions
(ten-class general polytechnic secondary school, 1988)
German language and literature 22.9
Art education / music 6.8
Social science lessons 10.9
mathematics 17.7
Science lessons 12.2
foreign languages 11.0
Physical education 7.5
Polytechnic lessons 11.0
Source: "40 Years of the GDR" - State Central Administration for Statistics, May 1989

Extended secondary school and vocational training with high school diploma

At the Extended Oberschule (EOS), pupils could take the Abitur . It consisted of grades 9 to 12, since 1983 - apart from the special schools - only grades 11 and 12. In the 1960s, attending the extended high school was combined with vocational training for which a list of selected professions came into question . Only a certain number of pupils in a year could attend an EOS (7% to a maximum of 10% of a year). The later high school graduates visited the POS up to and including grade 8 (later 10). For admission to the EOS, in addition to the achievements, the desired occupation, a certain political "reliability" and also the social origin of the parents were decisive. Origin from the “ working class ” was an advantage here at least until the mid-1960s, but after the first generation this “ positive discrimination ” steadily weakened.

In order to acquire the Abitur, there was still the option of three-year vocational training with a high school diploma , which, after the 10th grade, combined vocational training with further schooling with the aim of completing the Abitur at a vocational school . However, the number of these apprenticeship positions and the types of training professions offered were limited (just under 5% of a year group). Students at the EOS were paid a training allowance (from 1981 100 marks in the 11th and 150 marks in the 12th grade), while apprentices in vocational training with a high school diploma received a training allowance.

In addition, at some universities and colleges there was a one-year preparatory course for young skilled workers to acquire the university entrance qualification . The higher education entrance qualification acquired was subject-specific and entitled to study in business and technical fields of study . Subsequent studies with the professional goal of teaching at the POS were also possible. The prerequisite was that the professional training matched the course.

Each district only had one EOS with an ancient language class (Latin, Greek).

With the Abitur or the university entrance qualification a study could begin. The precondition for men was the approval of the military district command . Unless there were special reasons against it, military service had to be done before studying. Basically, a three-year military service as a non-commissioned officer was pushed for. With the exception of a five-week reserve service during the 3rd or 4th semester, there were generally no interruptions due to military service during the studies. Because the number of first-year students was limited by admission to the Abitur, there was a place for each Abitur - albeit not necessarily in the desired subject.

An additional possibility for university entrance was a previous technical college education, e.g. B. to engineer.

Similar to the evening grammar school in the Federal Republic of Germany, there was also the opportunity to prepare for the general university entrance qualification at the adult education center. In order to be admitted to the so-called evening high school diploma, the approval of the local school council was required. For apprentices in vocational training with a high school diploma, it was also possible to only attend courses in geography or chemistry, as only one of these subjects was ever taught at vocational schools.

The workers and farmers faculties (ABF) played a special role in the GDR school system, especially in the early years , as they represented a special form of support and led to the Abitur.

Special school

All institutions of popular education were designated as special schools, in which physically or mentally handicapped children and adolescents were to be educated and educated as full-fledged "members of socialist society" as far as possible through special educational measures. In addition to the well-known auxiliary schools for mentally handicapped or learning-handicapped children, the special schools also included physically handicapped, blind, visually impaired, deaf (wrongly referred to as deaf and dumb), hard of hearing and speech healing schools as well as schools for nerve-damaged children.

In addition, schools and classes in hospitals and healing and rehabilitation facilities (for cures) also had special school status.

Special schools

There was a diverse system at special schools to promote the gifted . Sometimes there were also special classes that were administratively connected to a POS or an EOS. The so-called Russian schools, which were attended from the third grade onwards, as well as the children's and youth sports schools (KJS) were known. There were also special schools for music, mathematics, science, electronics and old or new languages. The special schools began at different grade levels. A few special classes also had a 13th class because of the additional instruction, and for some special schools there was no public selection, as was the case for the so-called diplomatic schools with extensive modern language teaching. In the special schools beginning in earlier grades, there was mostly a smooth transition to the Abitur phase (EOS).

A special feature were the special schools and special classes that were affiliated to a university or college and served as special classes for mathematics, physics or chemistry or as special schools for music for the promotion of highly talented students in the mathematical and natural sciences or in the musical field.

Community College

As a state institution, the adult education center was integrated into the general school system and since 1956 has been under the Ministry of Popular Education. It was developed into an "evening high school for the working people", awarded certificates and taught according to a mandatory curriculum. The main task was to provide lessons on the same level as the regular school system to catch up on school-leaving qualifications, in particular the Abitur, which can only be achieved to a very limited extent on the first educational path. There were special courses for shift workers, which took place either in the morning or in the afternoon. The final exams took place on the same day as at EOS. From the 1970s there was a return to old traditions. General education courses in foreign languages, natural sciences, art and culture were increasingly offered again. The predominant form of event, however, remained the course. The offer was financed by the state, and course fees were only charged at a very low level (1 mark for school-based final courses, 3 marks for other courses for 20 hours each).

Everyday school life

Pioneer afternoon in an exhibition

Start of the hour

One of the first exercises the students did was to learn to stand up when the teacher entered and wait for them to be asked to sit.

In the mid 1950s, the first hour of the week began with singing a song, which was often a folk song. The basis for this was still the song book of the Free German Youth published by the New Life Berlin publishing house in 1952. In the Advent season, each day of class began with a corresponding song. This was later replaced by a previously named student having to report the readiness of the students to the class to the teacher when entering the class ("Mr. / Mrs. / Miss ..., the class ... is ready for class." ). Since the overwhelming number of students in the 1970s were finally pioneers or FDJ-lers, the start of lessons was reorganized after the teacher entered. At the beginning of the lesson the class rose and after the announcement the greeting of the pioneer organization (teacher: "For peace and socialism, be ready!" Class: "Always ready!") Or the FDJ (teacher: "friendship!" Class) : "Friendship!"). Then the class sat down again.


A roll call took place at the beginning and at the end of the school year and on the occasion of special events . Since the possibilities for information were still very limited, special features in school operations were pointed out on this occasion, changes in the composition of the teaching staff were made known and reference was made to special events. Particularly conspicuous behavior by individual students was also named. The student had to step forward, d. that is, he or she was standing in front of everyone in the field of vision of each student next to the teacher responsible for the roll call.

On this occasion, all students wore the uniform of the pioneer organization or the FDJ, if they were members, as early as the 1950s.

A roll call usually took place in the gym, in a courtyard or in the school auditorium. All classes marched (sometimes to marching music) in class or took up class-by-class line-ups.

At the end of a school year, performance badges were also awarded for special school, sporting or political achievements as part of the appeal . Since a sports festival was usually held at school in June, always on Children's Day, the award for the best athletes of the day was associated with it. In the 1960s and later, company representatives who had accompanied the class through the school year as members of the sponsor brigade took the opportunity to recognize those students who were often not the best performers but who had achieved better results through their efforts. Due to the large number of sponsorships, this was later moved to the classrooms when the certificates were issued.

Group council

The members of the pioneer organization of a class elected a group council. The group council consisted of the group council chairman, the deputy, the secretary, the cashier, the agitator and the friendship council member.

The group council kept in contact with the class teacher and assumed a similar function as a class representative .

Sponsor brigade

The sponsor brigade was a group of employees (brigade) from an industrial company or an agricultural production cooperative that sponsored a school class. It often lasted the entire school time of a class. The students visited the brigades in their working environment together. In return, brigade representatives were present at important school events such as certificates, hiking trips, etc.


The construction of schools in the Soviet zone of occupation

The beginnings of the school system in the former Soviet Zone were marked by a comprehensive exchange of teachers . In addition to the 71% former NSDAP members, who were seen as the biggest problem, a large part of the learning materials could no longer be used because of their adherent Nazi ideology. In many places, classes were suspended and only resumed in September 1945.

On July 27, 1945, a decree of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) created the Central Administration for Popular Education (ZfV), whose task it was to draw up proposals for the organization of the school system. With the order No. 40 of the SMAD, the preliminary legal framework was created in the SBZ, which should allow the schools to have regular lessons. For the time being, the old school forms of elementary school, middle school and high school were retained. However, general private schools were no longer taken into account, which guaranteed the state monopoly of schools in the Soviet occupation zone. Like all important bodies , the ZfV was headed by a man in whom the Soviet government had complete confidence; in this case it was Paul Wandel , the former editor-in-chief of the “ Rote Fahne ”, the central organ of the KPD .

Further guidelines of the ZfV and the SMAD for the reinstatement of teachers provided that NSDAP members and active members of other Nazi organizations were to be removed from school service. The teachers who had been dismissed or reprimanded by the Nazis should be reinstated. Since, however, strict adherence to these guidelines would not have permitted the start of comprehensive school lessons in the initial phase, NSDAP members who were born after 1920 were also temporarily left in school service.

New teacher

A fundamental concern of school policy in the Soviet Zone was a new teaching staff. This should also ensure that the SED has control over school education. In the short term, university training for a large number of teachers was not possible. According to the will of the new rulers, the new teachers were also to be recruited from the “democratic-anti-fascist circles of the German intelligentsia”, but also from the working class. Another criterion was that when recruiting new teachers, preference should be given to younger teachers. In the next few years 40,000 people who already had vocational training and / or who came directly from prisoner-of-war were trained in crash courses to become so-called lay teachers and new teachers. During her training, reform pedagogical approaches from the Weimar Republic were occasionally conveyed, but these did not shape everyday school life. The new teachers of the 1940s and 1950s formed a substantial part of the GDR teaching staff until the 1980s. New teachers who did not successfully complete the three-year teacher training course by 1954 were fired.

In 1949, 67.8% of all teaching positions were filled with new teachers. 47.7% of these new teachers belonged to the SED, 13% to the LDPD and 10% to the CDU , who were aligned with block parties . This largely achieved the SED's control over the school system.

Law to democratize the German school

In the early summer of 1946, the law to democratize the German school for the countries of the Soviet occupation zone was passed. It was groundbreaking for the next 20 years and thus well into the time of the GDR, which was only founded three years later. The law was the starting point for the redesign of the entire school system in the Soviet Zone. The structured school system disappeared in autumn 1946 in favor of a complex unified school system, consisting of several uniformly organized school types. The eight-year elementary school was its core component and was gradually transformed into the ten-class general polytechnic secondary school through a number of eventful reforms .

It was noteworthy that the integrated school formulated a legally anchored educational goal, namely preparation for school, when bringing up three to six year olds. This extended the right to education “downwards”.

The following school laws were effective in the GDR:

Grades and degrees

Certificate folder made of soft PVC .
Certificate of a school semester.

In the GDR there were five grade values ​​for students:

  • 1 = very good
  • 2 = good
  • 3 = satisfactory
  • 4 = sufficient
  • 5 = insufficient

In addition to the grades in the individual subjects, the certificate also included the so-called top marks (behavior, order, diligence, cooperation and, up to 1978, also overall behavior). There was also a detailed assessment in the school report at the end of the school year. In the school year 1953/54 there were three more certificates a year, in the following period as a half-year certificate in February before the winter holidays and in July at the end of the school year before the summer holidays. A grade 5 or several grades 4 on the final year report (except for top grades) precluded promotion to the next higher class. The rule for this has been changed several times. The certificates had to be signed by the legal guardians , this was checked by the class teachers after the holidays .

The certificates initially consisted of an A5 sheet of paper with letters on both sides. They remained with the pupil, but had to be shown to the teacher with the signature of both parents at the beginning of the new school year, who noted this in the class register. Later, up to the end of the 1970s, the grades were entered in a certificate booklet in the format A5: This was replaced a few years later by a certificate folder made of artificial leather. It was used by every pupil up to the 10th grade to keep his certificates and stayed with him, but was collected for the issuing of certificates. In some schools, the certificate folders were only given out during the winter or summer holidays and then collected again and stored in the secretariat.

At the end of the 10th grade and for the Abitur there was a special diploma. In the end there was an overall predicate that were made up of the services within the school year and the performance of oral and written examinations: with distinction existed Excellent passed Gut passed Satisfactory passed Pass , Fail . As additional recognition, the Lessing Medal in gold (all subjects with a grade of 1) or silver (a maximum of two subjects with a grade of 2) could be awarded for degrees with distinction . The overall grade could only be two grades better than the worst partial grade and only one grade better than the worst grade in a major. However, these evaluation criteria changed from time to time.

Street of the best

In some schools, the portraits of the best-in-class students were shown publicly in the school building by name. The tradition of the street of the best was taken over from production companies.

Class days and holidays

In the later school years, a day of instruction consisted of an average of six hours of instruction. Up until the 1989/1990 school year, Saturday was a regular school day in some schools, but only two to three lessons were taught in the lower grades and no more than five lessons in the higher grades. From the 7th grade onwards, there were one or two additional lessons on some days of the week as the “zeroth hour” (possibly at 7 o'clock or earlier) or in the afternoon. Optional lessons took place e.g. B. often takes place during these hours to enable the participation of students from different parallel classes. Lessons ended in the early afternoon between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., the exact times depended on the school year and the number of lessons.

The vacation dates were uniform throughout the GDR. The school year began on September 1st or a day or two later if it fell on a weekend. For school beginners, the start was usually on the Monday after September 1st, as the weekend before was used for the start of school celebration. The following vacation dates were common:

  • one week autumn break (mid-October)
  • the days between Christmas and the New Year
  • three weeks of winter vacation (February)
  • one week of spring break (mid-May)
  • eight weeks of summer vacation (last day of school on the first Friday in July) at the end of the school year

After the lesson there was the opportunity to acquire additional knowledge and skills in working groups. There were study groups in many fields, for example electronics, languages, math, health, biology, chemistry, sports, music, choir and others. Most of them were led by teachers, some of them by parents, members of the sponsor brigade or the pioneer organization.

The transformation of the education system during the transition

Criticism and reform discussion

While the restructuring of the education system in the second half of the 1940s was accompanied by extensive discussions, any public criticism of the school system or critical academic support was prohibited at the latest since the adoption of the "Law on the Socialist Development of Schools" in 1959. A critical discussion took place within the churches. Here, in particular, the introduction of military instruction in the POS in 1978 and the discrimination against church-bound young people when they were admitted to advanced training courses were discussed.

With the fall of 1989, a large number of initiatives quickly emerged that criticized the education system and made suggestions for change. By the end of 1989 alone, the Ministry of Popular Education had received more than 8,000 suggestions and submissions .

The main points of the discussion were:

  • The lack of equal opportunities in access to further education offers should be abolished and access should be guaranteed according to the performance principle.
  • The right of parents to bring up their children, especially on ideological and religious questions, should be guaranteed.
  • The educational goals should be maturity and individuality instead of education for socialist personalities.
  • Ideological indoctrination should be abolished and social education changed.
  • The bureaucratic control and centralized control of schools should be reduced.
  • The students, parents and teachers should be given extended participation rights.

The individual political groups and parties took up this discussion and formulated their own goals and priorities. The Green Party in the GDR demanded that peace and environmental education be anchored in the curriculum, the liberal parties demanded increased support for the gifted, the admission of independent educational institutions and the free choice of schools, and the United Left demanded the election of school directors School collectives. Even the SED, renamed PDS , was critical of the hypocrisy in the previous education system.

In a position paper dated March 5, 1990, the central round table on education, upbringing and youth also advocated comprehensive reforms. Legal regulations on equal opportunities and a right to lifelong education should be created. The paper contained a commitment to ten-year regular schools, but also a demand for the possibility of independent schools being admitted. What is essential, however, is first an analysis of the educational situation and then a “profound educational reform”.

Last-minute changes

A number of changes in the education system have taken place spontaneously since Margot Honecker's resignation in autumn 1989 and were implemented by the Modrow interim government. As early as October 1989, there were no more military education classes; this was formally ordered by the ministry on December 15, 1989. Citizenship classes were also omitted. The social studies classes that were given as a substitute (like history classes) were initially given at the discretion of the teachers. In January 1990, the Ministry of Education published a transition concept that was agreed with the reform groups. Even after new framework plans were published in March 1990, there was still great uncertainty. In particular, the fact that the same teachers who were previously responsible for the “red light irradiation” should now teach social studies, and the lack of school books was discussed intensely. In 1990, 26.5 million school books were printed by Volk und Wissen Verlag and 2.46 million school books from the West were donated as "school book aid".

Foreign language teaching also changed in a very short time. One of the demands of the citizens was the free choice of the first foreign language. On the one hand, the Ministry of Education could not ignore the demands of the parents, but on the other hand it did not have enough teachers with English skills. As early as November 1989, Russian teachers were therefore asked to take part-time training in English. In the 1990/91 school year, 80 to 90% of students chose English instead of Russian as their first foreign language.

Furthermore, the 5-day teaching week was introduced in the schools and private schools were initiated during the turnaround days. However, formal approval of private schools did not take place until the “Constitutional Act on Independent Schools” of July 22, 1990.

The dispute over the unified school

The parties' positions on the question of school organization diverged widely. For the first free Volkskammer election , the PDS insisted on the existing unified school, the SPD spoke out in favor of converting the unified school into comprehensive schools and the Alliance for Germany promoted the introduction of the structured school system . Even if the supporters of the structured school system had a clear majority in parliament after the election, the question of the school system was initially excluded, as this question was disputed within the grand coalition formed . The unification treaty transferred responsibility for the school system to the newly formed federal states. As a result, different national regulations came about.

In Brandenburg , the SPD had become the strongest parliamentary group and wanted to introduce comprehensive schools as a regular school. The coalition partners in the Brandenburg Ampelkoalition , however, pushed through that in addition to comprehensive schools, grammar schools and secondary schools could be founded if this was in line with the parents' will.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the state government preferred a three-tier school system, but had to recognize comprehensive schools as an equivalent school form within the framework of the legislative process. The situation was similar in Saxony-Anhalt , where the comprehensive school was permitted as an exception.

The school laws in Thuringia and Saxony did not provide for comprehensive schools . In Thuringia, however, comprehensive schools can be set up on request, provided that a corresponding educational concept is available (example: Integrated Comprehensive School Jena). In Saxony there was a special feature that the single-ruling CDU provided for a two-tier school system consisting of a middle school and a grammar school.

See also


  • Sebastian Barsch : Mentally disabled people in the GDR. Upbringing - education - care . Athena, Oberhausen 2007, ISBN 978-3-89896-302-2 .
  • Christoph Führ (Ed.): German Democratic Republic and new federal states . Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-42931-9 .
  • Gert Geißler: History of the School System in the Soviet Occupation Zone and in the German Democratic Republic 1945 to 1962 . Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2000, ISBN 3-631-36445-8 .
  • Gert Geissler, Ulrich Wiegmann: School and education in the GDR. Studies and documents . Luchterhand, Neuwied am Main et al. 1995, ISBN 3-472-02258-2 .
  • Karl-Heinz Günther: The education system of the German Democratic Republic . People and knowledge Volkseigener Verlag, Berlin 1979, DNB  800141865 .
  • Hubert Hettwer: The education system in the GDR - structural and content development since 1945 . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1976, ISBN 3-462-01165-0 .
  • Freya Klier : Lüg Vaterland - Education in the GDR . Kindler, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-463-40134-7 .
  • Tina Kwiatkowski-Celofiga: Persecuted Students. Causes and consequences of discrimination in the school system of the GDR (= writings of the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarian Research . Vol. 54). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2014, ISBN 978-3-525-36966-1 .
  • Uwe Markus: What was our school worth? Popular education in the GDR . Das neue Berlin, 2009, ISBN 978-3-360-01965-3 .
  • Saul B. Robinsohn: School reform in the social process - An intercultural comparison, Volume 1: FRG, GDR, USSR . Ernst Klett, Stuttgart 1970.
  • Andreas Tietze: The theoretical appropriation of the means of production. Subject, structure and socio-theoretical justification of polytechnical education in the GDR . Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-631-63919-1 .
  • Barbara Wellmitz: On the development of the physically handicapped education in the GDR . In: Curative Education online . No. 4 , 2003, p. 21-44 ( online ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ "School in the GDR was better" ,, December 7, 2004
  2. Teaching and learning under MfS control: Paralysis of the universities ,, February 17, 2017
  3. ^ GDR labor camp in Rüdersdorf The humiliating methods in the GDR education camp ., March 12, 2015
  4. Myth: “Everyone was allowed to study in the GDR” ,, accessed: June 4, 2018
  5. ^ GDR: Myth and Reality - How the SED dictatorship determined the everyday life of GDR citizens. IV. School and training in the GDR ,, January 15, 2014 (PDF)
  6. Angela Brock: Producing the 'Socialist Personality?' Socialization, Education and the Emerge of New Patterns of Behavior. In: Mary Fulbrook (Ed.): Power and Society in the GDR 1961–1979. Normalization of Rule? New York 2009, p. 236.
  7. Gottfried Schneider among others: Adult education. Verlag Volk und Wissen, Berlin (GDR) 1988, ISBN 3-06-252676-9 , p. 94.
  8. Martin Broszat, Gerhard Braas, Hermann Weber (eds.): SBZ manual. State administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany 1945–1949. 2nd Edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55262-7 , p. 233.
  9. Paul Wandel: The democratic unit school , review and outlook. People and Knowledge, Berlin 1947.
  10. Compulsory Education Act
  11. ^ Law on the socialist development of the school system in the German Democratic Republic
  12. ^ Law on the Unified Socialist Education System
  13. ^ Holidays in the GDR on, accessed on January 26, 2014.
  14. ^ Hans-Werner Fuchs: Education and science since the turn. 1997, ISBN 3-8100-1811-2 , pp. 33-34.
  15. ^ Volkhard Peter: Education Discussion in the GDR between 40th Anniversary and Accession. In: Hans-Dieter Schmidt (Ed.): Towards the child. 1991, p. 124.
  16. Jan Hofmann, Helmut Soder: Content-analytical study of educational conceptual ideas that arose outside of institutionalized structures in the period from October 1989 to March 1990. Bonn 1991 (discussion papers of the study commission “Future Education Policy - Education 2000” of the 11th Bundestag), p. 10.
  17. ^ Hans-Werner Fuchs: Education and science since the turn. 1997, ISBN 3-8100-1811-2 , p. 39.
  18. Berndt Musiolek, Carola Wuttke: Parties and political movements in the last year of the GDR. 1991, p. 171 (FDP), 172 (Greens), 174 (NDPD, BFD), 175 (PDS), 179 (others)
  19. The text is printed in the minutes of the People's Chamber of March 5, 1990.
  20. ^ Hans-Werner Fuchs: Education and science since the turn. 1997, ISBN 3-8100-1811-2 , pp. 92-95.
  21. ^ Hans-Werner Fuchs: Education and science since the turn. 1997, ISBN 3-8100-1811-2 , pp. 95-96.
  22. Law Gazette of the German Democratic Republic "Part 1 No. 5 of February 2, 1990" Ordinance on the 5-day teaching week at general and vocational schools to be found in the Berlin Federal Archives Document no. E.g. 20049a
  23. Art. 37 Para. 4 Unification Agreement
  24. ^ First School Reform Act for the State of Brandenburg - Preliminary Act of April 25, 1991.
  25. ^ First School Reform Act of the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania of April 26, 1991.
  26. ^ School reform law for the state of Saxony-Anhalt - preliminary law of May 24, 1991.
  27. ^ Provisional Education Act of March 21, 1991.
  28. ^ Education Act for the Free State of Saxony of August 1, 1991.