German Democratic Republic

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German Democratic Republic
Flag of the German Democratic Republic
State coat of arms of the German Democratic Republic
flag coat of arms
Official language German
Sorbian (in parts of the districts of Dresden and Cottbus )
capital city Berlin ( East Berlin )
State and form of government real socialist republic with one-party dictatorship
Head of state President of the GDR
Wilhelm Pieck ( SED , 1949–1960)

Chairman of the State Council
Walter Ulbricht (SED, 1960–1973)
Willi Stoph (SED, 1973–1976)
Erich Honecker (SED, 1976–1989)
Egon Krenz (SED, 1989)
Manfred Gerlach ( LDPD , 1989–1990)

President of the People's Chamber (i. V.)
Sabine Bergmann-Pohl ( CDU , 1990)
Head of government Prime Minister of the GDR
Otto Grotewohl (SED, 1949–1964)

Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Willi Stoph (SED, 1964–1973)
Horst Sindermann (SED, 1973–1976)
Willi Stoph (SED, 1976–1989)
Hans Modrow (SED / PDS, 1989 –1990)

Prime Minister of the GDR
Lothar de Maizière (CDU, 1990)
surface 108,179 km²
population 16.675 million (1988)
Population density 154 inhabitants per km²
currency 1949 Deutsche Mark (DM),
renamed in 1964 to Mark of the German Central Bank (MDN), in
1967 renamed to Mark of the GDR (M).
Replaced in 1990 by the Deutsche Mark (DM) as a result of the monetary, economic and social union .
founding October 7, 1949
resolution 3rd October 1990
National anthem Rising from the Ruins
Time zone UTC + 1 CET
UTC + 2 CEST (March to September)
License Plate until the end of 1973: D, then: GDR
ISO 3166 DD, DDR, 278 no longer valid
Internet TLD .dd (provided, never assigned / delegated )
Telephone code +37 (no longer valid; +37x reassigned to several states)
East Germany 1956-1990.svg

The German Democratic Republic ( GDR ) was a state that existed from 1949 until the establishment of German unity in 1990. The GDR emerged from the division of Germany after 1945, after the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) established a dictatorial regime at the instigation of the Soviet occupying power , which existed until the peaceful revolution in autumn 1989 . The official state ideology was Marxism-Leninism . In contemporary historical research , the system of rule in the GDR is sometimes referred to as real socialist , sometimes as communist . The rulers called the GDR a " socialist state of workers and peasants " and a German peace state, and claimed that the GDR had removed the roots of war and fascism . Anti-fascism became a state doctrine of the GDR.

Emerging from the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ), which arose with the division of defeated Germany , the GDR and its government, like the other real socialist Eastern Bloc countries , remained largely dependent on the Soviet Union for the four decades of its existence .

The prevailing political and economic conditions met with some rejection, but only rarely with active resistance from the population. However, this was unmistakable in the early phase of the popular uprising of June 17, 1953 , which was suppressed by Soviet troops. The emigration movement , which threatened the very existence of the state and which was drastically curbed by the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 , also signaled clear rejection . The Ministry of State Security (short Stasi or colloquially "Stasi") was transformed to the whole society pervading organ of surveillance and targeted decomposition opposition activities and groupings. From kindergarten to university, state education and training was geared towards “ training to become a socialist personality ” in accordance with the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Block parties and mass organizations in the GDR were subject to the SED leadership claim, not only in the People's Chamber elections , which were held via a single list , but also through an extensive system of control over the filling of management positions of all kinds within the framework of cadre policy .

The undemocratic political system and economic weaknesses led to an increasingly critical attitude of the population, especially since the first conference on security and cooperation in Europe (1973). With this conference, applications to leave the country were possible, against which the state was unable to respond despite various harassment in the further course. In the final phase, Erich Honecker's refusal to allow the reform process initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union to also take effect in the GDR intensified both the need to leave and the willingness to protest. Support for the system also waned within the power structures of the GDR, and the peaceful protests of many citizens that broke out in 1989 were no longer suppressed. These protests and a wave of emigration via Hungary and Czechoslovakia were essential components of the turning point and peaceful revolution in the GDR , which culminated in the unexpected fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989 and ultimately paved the way for the end of the GDR and German reunification .


The districts of the GDR (boundaries and names from the GDR perspective, 1989)

The national territory of the German Democratic Republic consisted of today's German states Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , Brandenburg , Saxony , Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia as well as the Neuhaus and Bleckede-Wendischthun office in Lower Saxony ; The inclusion of East Berlin was controversial . In terms of natural space, the GDR extended an average of 450 kilometers in a north-south direction, the mean east-west extension was around 250 kilometers. The northernmost point of the GDR was Gellort on the island of Rügen , northwest of Cape Arkona , and the southernmost point was Schönberg am Kapellenberg ( Vogtland ). The westernmost point was near the village of Reinhards in the Rhön , the easternmost near Zentendorf between Rothenburg and Görlitz .

In the north, the Baltic Sea formed a natural border, with the territorial waters of the GDR partially bordering those of the Federal Republic of Germany , Denmark and the People's Republic of Poland (viewed from the north-west to the north-east). The Oder-Neisse border with Poland existed in the east and the border with Czechoslovakia in the southeast . The inner-German border with the Federal Republic ran in the west and south-west of the GDR . In its center, the GDR enclosed the area of West Berlin .

The north and center of the GDR were part of the northern German lowlands, which were shaped by the Ice Age , and took up three fifths of the total area of ​​the country. There, undulating ground or terminal moraine landscapes such as the northern and southern ridges alternate with flat sand areas and glacial valleys ( Mecklenburg Lake District , Märkische Seen ). Most of the lakes of the GDR can be found in this lowland , including the Müritz , Schweriner See and Plauer See , the largest inland waters. The south of the country, on the other hand, is occupied by the low mountain ranges ( Harz , Thuringian Forest , Rhön , Ore Mountains , Elbe Sandstone Mountains , Saxon Switzerland , Lusatian Bergland , Zittau Mountains ), into which pronounced basin landscapes protrude from the north ( Leipzig lowland bay , Thuringian basin ). The highest elevations in the GDR were the Fichtelberg with 1214.79 meters, followed by the Brocken (1141.2 m) and the Auersberg (1019 m).

Elbe and Oder , connected by different navigable canals ( Oder-Havel Canal , Oder-Spree Canal ), were the two largest river basins in GDR territory ; they were of great importance for inland navigation . The Elbe, with its numerous direct and indirect tributaries from the Saale , Havel , Mulde and Spree, drained most of the GDR's territory into the North Sea. The Oder, with the Lusatian Neisse as its largest tributary, was the second largest river basin; like Peene and Warnow, it drains into the Baltic Sea.

Rügen , Usedom , Poel and Hiddensee as well as the Fischland-Darß-Zingst peninsula belonged to the GDR as the largest islands in terms of area .



In 1950, 18.388 million people lived in the GDR and East Berlin . At the end of the state in 1990 it was 16.028 million people. The decrease had several reasons:

  1. the permanent escape from the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR or the relocation from the Soviet Zone / GDR to West Germany ;
  2. in the early years of Weiterzug of displaced persons over the zone boundary in the West zones;
  3. the reduction in the birth rate, in particular through the introduction of the contraceptive pill and as a result of the legalization of abortions ("birth kink " , " pill kink "); in addition, as in other developed countries, there was also the trend away from larger families towards families with one or two children;
  4. the increase in the death rate due to adjustment to a normalized demographic development , after this had shown serious differences in the respective population groups in the early years of the Soviet occupation zone and GDR due to the war.

Due to international agreements, there were two small but still clearly demarcated foreign population groups, the Vietnamese contract workers and the 15,000 contract workers from Mozambique , also known as Madgermanes .

Residents and working people of the GDR
year Population (million) Employed persons
(excluding apprentices, million)
1950 18,388 7.196
1960 17,188 7.686
1970 17.068 7.769
1980 16.740 8.225
1988 16.675 8,594

Bev DDR with historical events.png


The area in which the GDR was located belongs to the German-speaking area . In some districts of the Dresden and Cottbus districts , the West Slavic languages Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian , which are native to them, were also officially recognized (→  minority protection ).

The Benrath Line divides the country from west to east at the level of the districts of Magdeburg, Potsdam and Frankfurt (Oder) or on a line between Nordhausen and Frankfurt (Oder). To the north of it the East Low German dialects Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch and Mark-Brandenburgisch or Märkisch are spoken. They are parts of the Low German language (Low German). On the border with the state of Lower Saxony, East Westphalian and Brunswick-Lüneburg dialects such as Elbe-East Westphalian and Heideplatt are also widespread. One of the East Central German dialects is spoken south of the Benrath Line, where around 60 percent of the GDR population lived . This group includes the southern Mark dialect and the Thuringian-Upper Saxon dialect group . The area south of the Rennsteig in the Suhl district belongs to the East Franconian language area . In the south of the Vogtland ( district of Oelsnitz and district of Klingenthal ) the Upper German dialect North Bavarian is spoken, in addition the Upper German dialects Vogtland and further east the Erzgebirge are common. In the area around Görlitz, which until 1945 belonged to the province of Lower Silesia , the Silesian dialect has been preserved.

Religions and Religious Substitutes

State cult

In order to “ shape the younger generations” into “ socialist personalities ” and alienate them from the churches, the SED began a cultural war against the Christian churches in the 1950s and, from 1954, introduced the ritual of socialist youth consecration . In this quasi-religious substitute act, as a counter-event to confirmation and communion , combined with the pledge to serve the GDR, almost 99% of all 14-year-olds took part from the 1970s onwards. In addition, as a substitute for religion, analogous to the corresponding Christian rites, individual celebrations emerged, such as the socialist consecration of names (as a substitute for baptism), the socialist marriage and burial. In 1957 Ulbricht gave the youth consecration a state character and made it de facto a compulsory event with various means of pressure. While several attempts to introduce a socialist worker consecration failed, a pronounced state cult developed , with socialist festivals, forms of personality cult and a ritualization of the military. In 1958, the socialist state religion, created by Walter Ulbricht as a substitute for ethics, postulated the Ten Commandments of socialist morality and ethics . In 1988 the SED founded the Freethinkers' Association controlled by the Stasi as a replacement for pastoral care offered by the churches .


Religion in the GDR, 1950
Believe percent
Catholic Church
Not connected
Religion in the GDR, 1989
Believe percent
Catholic Church
Not connected

There were various religious communities in the GDR . The largest were the Christian churches. In addition to the eight Protestant regional churches and the Roman Catholic Church , which have been united in the Federation of Evangelical Churches in the GDR since 1969 , there were the following free churches : the Federation of Evangelical Free Churches in the GDR , the Federation of Free Evangelical Congregations , the Methodist Church , the Moravian Church , The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( Mormons ), the Seventh-day Adventist Fellowship , the Mennonite Congregation, and the Quakers . There were also the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church , the Evangelical Lutheran (Old Lutheran) Church and the Federation of Evangelical Reformed Congregations in the GDR.

In 1950 around 85 percent of GDR citizens belonged to a Protestant and around 10 percent to the Catholic Church. By 1989, the proportion of church members in the total population decreased significantly: 25 percent of the population were Protestants and 5 percent Catholics. The proportion of non-denominational in the total population rose from about 6 to about 70 percent in 1989. While most of the GDR were Protestant areas, there were also some traditionally Catholic areas: in Thuringia the Eichsfeld , the Rhön around Geisa , the traditionally bi-denominational city of Erfurt as well as the Upper Sorbian core settlement area in the Kamenz / Bautzen area .

“Full freedom of belief and conscience ” was written into Article 41, Paragraph 1 of the 1949 Constitution of the GDR . In the constitutional reality, however, SED officials and representatives tried to limit the undisturbed practice of religion, to reduce the influence of the churches and, above all, to withdraw church influence from young people. The prohibition of discrimination against Christians set out in Article 42 of the GDR constitution was undermined by many simple legal provisions that required an atheist profession. The anti-church policy of the GDR had its sharpest form in the early 1950s. It culminated in 1953 with the criminalization of the " young communities ". This led to relegations to schools and universities, including arrests, which were withdrawn in June 1953. Even afterwards, professing Christians had no more opportunities to study or to pursue a career in the state. Up until the end of the GDR, there were school-age children who were refused entry to the EOS due to a lack of youth consecration .

Other religions

There were some Jewish communities whose membership steadily decreased. But Jews in the GDR could live in safety without open anti-Semitism . On the other hand, the GDR rejected any compensation for Holocaust survivors because it saw itself as the successor state , but not as the legal successor to the German Reich . Like all Eastern Bloc states, the GDR took a stand against the " Zionist imperialism" of the State of Israel. In the 1980s, the SED paid more attention to the Jewish heritage and also invited Jewish organizations.

In addition, there were isolated Buddhist , Hindu and Muslim groups from the 1980s onwards . Dealing with paranormal ideas and practices in the GDR was examined from 2013 to 2016 in a knowledge-sociological DFG project. Such ideas were subject to strong reservations, especially in comparison with the Soviet Union. The anthroposophical movement was continued in the GDR, especially in the context of the Christian community . The esoteric St. John's Church had a special ecclesiastical role in the SED state .

Although the number of people with religious ties decreased considerably, the churches remained an independent social factor. From 1989/90 onwards, many people came together in the Protestant churches as semi-public assembly rooms, some of them without being religious themselves, who became the supporters of the peaceful revolution in the GDR.


The four decades between the founding of the GDR in October 1949 and the rapid fall in power of the SED since October 1989 form the main strand of GDR history. This was preceded by the division of Germany into zones of occupation decided and carried out by the victorious powers of World War II . From 1945 until the founding of the state in 1949 was the Soviet zone of occupation of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) was assumed that a land reform and the forced merger of the SPD and KPD to form the SED had already set the course. The opening of the border in November 1989 was followed by the initiation of the GDR's accession to the Federal Republic of Germany and the associated contractual arrangements between the two German states and in relation to the victorious powers.

Foundation of the GDR and development of socialism (1949–1961)

First GDR Law Gazette of October 8, 1949 on the constitution of the Provisional People's Chamber of the German Democratic Republic on October 7, 1949
Wilhelm Pieck (left) and Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl at Pieck's election as President of the GDR in the DWK building ( Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus since 1992 ). Photo taken on October 11, 1949

The German Democratic Republic was founded on October 7, 1949 ( Republic Day ) - a few months after the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany . On this day the constitution of the German Democratic Republic came into force, which had been in place since October 1948. The Second German People's Council was constituted as a provisional People's Chamber and commissioned Otto Grotewohl as Prime Minister to form a government . His colleague in the chairmanship of the SED, Wilhelm Pieck , was elected President of the GDR on October 11th .

The GDR was described as a real socialist people 's democracy . Political rule was exercised by the SED and extended to all areas of social life. In addition, there were “bourgeois” parties such as the LDPD and the CDU, but they had to submit to the SED. The CDU, DBD, LDPD and NDPD were part of the National Front (officially constituted on January 7, 1950) as block parties together with the SED and could not be elected separately. The Council of Ministers formally formed the government of the GDR, but was in fact subordinate to the Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED - the actual center of power. Walter Ulbricht was a member of the Politburo and, since 1950, Secretary General of the Central Committee of the SED . But even after the Soviet government had declared on March 25, 1954 that "the Soviet Union [...] wanted to establish the same relations [...] with the German Democratic Republic [...] as with other sovereign states", the sovereignty granted in this way remained restricted: the social historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler therefore describes the GDR as a " satrapy in the western frontier of the Soviet empire".

Army General Tschuikow , as head of the Soviet Control Commission, receives the members of the government of the German Democratic Republic. Photo taken on November 11, 1949

The first elections to the People's Chamber were set for October 15, 1950 and then held on the basis of a unified list. This date, more than a year after the constitution came into force, was opposed to the bourgeois politicians in the CDU and LDPD , as was the electoral mode. Meanwhile, their representatives received high posts in the new government: the LDPD chairman Hans Loch became finance minister , the CDU chairman Otto Nuschke became deputy head of government , his party friend Georg Dertinger foreign minister . Two of the most important foreign policy decisions of the GDR fell during his term of office: on July 6, 1950, the Görlitz Agreement with the People's Republic of Poland, in which the GDR recognized the Oder-Neisse line as the “state border between Germany and Poland”, and on September 29 In 1950 he joined the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (Comecon / Comecon).

Right from the start, true or supposed opponents of the SED regime were subjected to Stalinist repression. In the years 1950–1953, around 1,000 people were arrested by the State Security or its predecessor organization, extradited to the Soviet Union in violation of the GDR constitution and executed in Moscow.

Like the Federal Republic of Germany, the GDR claimed to speak for all of Germany. Initially, democratic constitutional features were also emphasized on the eastern side and the possibilities of an East-West German understanding were explored. However, they failed because of mutual insistence on certain incompatible basic conditions, as did Stalin's proposal for a united, neutral and democratic Germany in March 1952, since the Western powers again made free all-German elections a precondition.

As a result, in July 1952 , Josef Stalin gave Ulbricht's SED leadership a free hand to accelerate the development of socialism . In the economic field, there was now an increasing nationalization of industrial companies, in agriculture, collectivization based on the LPG model was elevated to a model. Propagandistically the innovations were accompanied by the long-term motto: “To learn from the Soviet Union means to learn to win.” This was accompanied by increased ideological repression directed against all adversaries and especially against the churches . At the low in May 1952 after a several kilometer exclusion zone sealed off inner-German border were in action vermin thousands aligned suspicious or dissident residents of the border areas forcibly relocated . The gradual adoption of the Stalinist Soviet model of society, without freedom of opinion , lack of worker participation and a materially privileged class of functionaries who occupied the important state and administrative positions, was accompanied by a personality cult promoted by the SED about the infallible leader Stalin, who, as the great " Teacher of the German labor movement and best friend of the German people ”.

The change of course ordered by the new Soviet leadership after Stalin's death in March 1953 , which included a suspension of the socialization and intensified ideological repression course, was followed by the SED, but without withdrawing the increased labor standards . The demonstrations directed against it in the eastern part of Berlin expanded into the nationwide uprising of June 17, 1953 . At least 55 people died in connection with the crackdown by the Soviet troops stationed in the GDR.

Financial aid from the Soviet Union, which also waived further reparations from the GDR and converted the remaining Soviet stock corporations in the GDR into state-owned companies, eased the supply situation and restabilized the SED regime under Ulbricht's leadership, which was now highly controversial. The de-Stalinization that Nikita Khrushchev on the XX. Had initiated the CPSU party congress , the SED leadership took part only hesitantly: In the GDR there was neither a personality cult nor mass repression, which is why there was not much that could be changed. But it contributed to a thaw in which students and intellectuals of the party hoped for further liberalization up to and including the reunification of Germany . The suppression of the Hungarian popular uprising in November 1956 by Soviet troops, which resulted in several thousand deaths and more than 2,000 death sentences, triggered a new wave of repression in the GDR. In 1959, the SED considered the time for a second attempt to “build socialism” to have come, by using all means more or less forceful means that in the first quarter of 1960 almost 40 percent of the agricultural area was taken over by “voluntary” accessions agricultural production cooperatives and that in the following year almost 90 percent of agricultural production was generated in socialist collectives . As a result, the number of refugees rose sharply again; 47,433 people left the GDR in the first two weeks of August 1961 alone. When Khrushchev condemned the terror of the Stalin regime in October 1961, Ulbricht distanced himself from the personality cult around Stalin and the crimes committed under his leadership, whereupon the GDR leadership initiated the de-Stalinization the USSR approved.

Between building the wall and policy of détente (1961–1971)

Former inner-German border between Hesse (left) and Thuringia (right), photo from 2008
Deep socialist brotherly kiss between Walter Ulbricht and Leonid Brezhnev (left)

The massive emigration threatened the existence of the GDR, especially since an above-average number of young and well-educated people left the state. With the backing of the Soviet leadership, on the night of August 12th to 13th, 1961, People's Army Soldiers, People's Police and members of the working class combat groups of the GDR began to cordon off the border around West Berlin with barbed wire and armed forces. This resulted in the Berlin Wall , which became a symbol of the division of Germany and Europe. In addition, the inner-German border was secured more and more extensively by mine barriers , self- firing systems and border guards firing deliberately . Several hundred refugees were killed on the inner-German border in an attempt to overcome this blocking system , which the GDR propaganda referred to as the “ anti-fascist protective wall ”. These and other human rights violations committed in the GDR were documented by the Central Registration Office of the State Justice Administrations established in November 1961 in Salzgitter, West Germany.

Just two months after the border wall had begun, the SED leadership received new signals from Moscow in October 1961 amid a wave of repression against the regime opponents who were now prevented from fleeing, where CPSU General Secretary Khrushchev initiated a second wave of de-Stalinization . In East Berlin, people reacted by renaming streets, squares and facilities named after Stalin and rejecting the personality cult . However, this did not prevent Ulbricht from being celebrated on his 70th birthday in 1963 for his “simplicity, straightforwardness, simplicity, openness, honesty, cleanliness” and being propagated as a “statesman of the new type” distinguished by the “nobility of humanity”. In place of purely repressive measures against latently oppositional sections of the population, there was now more ideological persuasion and an economic policy oriented towards raising living standards . By working in the workplace, the people who had been deprived of the opportunity to escape sought to improve their standard of living and their chances of advancement as far as possible. "This attitude had a positive effect on economic development, the material improvements that it made possible in turn reduced oppositional moods, so that the relationships between the leadership and the population gradually became more objective."

The SED leadership gave up certain forms of harassment towards the young people, especially with regard to imports of Western dance forms. A Politburo resolution in 1963 stated: “It does not occur to anyone to tell young people that they should only express their feelings and moods while dancing to the waltz or tango rhythm. Which tact the youth chooses is up to them: the main thing is that they remain tactful! ”So the FDJ chairman, as a public activist for the fashion dance“ Twist ”, which had been frowned upon up to that point, worked hard to improve the“ musty ”image of the FDJ . At the third and last meeting of young people in Germany in May 1964, half a million young people from the GDR were represented as well as 25,000 participants from the Federal Republic and West Berlin. A youth program from Berliner Rundfunk went on air around the clock, was very well received and was given a permanent slot as DT64 .

However, this opening period in 1965 was quickly over soon after the overthrow of Khrushchev on October 14, 1964 and youth riots in Leipzig on October 31, 1965. It was a matter of curbing the "hooliganism" and taking action with the press against " bums ", "long-haired", "neglected" and "loitering". Now the FDJ leadership even supported campaigns in which students had their classmates cut off their hair. Honecker railed against the beat music on DT64 and against the "cynical verses" of the songwriter Wolf Biermann , against whom a performance ban was imposed.

The hopes of reform socialism associated with more freedoms that arose in the GDR population with the Prague Spring 1968, despite the renewed climate of repression, were suddenly dashed when parts of the United Armed Forces of the Warsaw Treaty under Soviet leadership adopted the Czechoslovak reform model of KPČ party leader Alexander Subdued Dubček by military means. The protests directed against it, mainly by young people in small groups in many cities in the GDR, were nipped in the bud by the security organs. In this context, the MfS ascertained over 2000 “hostile acts” up to November 1968.

The decisive importance of the course guidelines emanating from Moscow for the government of the GDR was again evident in the power struggle that broke out in 1970 for the party leadership between Ulbricht and Honecker. Honecker presented himself as the GDR politician who was more closely connected to the Soviet guidelines regarding the German-German rapprochement policy and found support in the SED Politburo for his criticism of Ulbricht's economic strategy, which was aimed at supporting future industries as well as research and industry, while Honecker There were complaints about backlogs and reduced production figures in the consumption-related area. It was not until Brezhnev's cooperation, after some hesitation and waiting and waiting, that Ulbricht resigned in April 1971.

From a new departure to stagnation (1971–1981)

After resigning from all offices except for that of the chairman of the State Council “for health reasons” and his being put aside by Honecker, Ulbricht died on August 1, 1973. Honecker had already given a change of course at the SED party congress in June 1971 and the “further increase in material and cultural standard of living of the people "of the party as" main task ". The working people in the “developed socialist society” should now participate more in the fruits of their labor. The “ unity of economic and social policy ” became the core slogan . One focus was placed on the construction of houses and the provision of adequate living space; by 1990 this social problem should be resolved. The increased employment of women in the work process was promoted through measures such as reducing working hours and extending maternity leave, as well as through the strong expansion of childcare facilities ( crèche , kindergarten ). The concentration on consumer goods production led to considerable results for GDR standards in equipping households with fridges and televisions, for example, and raised hopes for further increasing prosperity, even if the increase in minimum wages to over 400 marks and minimum pensions to over 230 marks until 1976 . However, the stimulation of the economy and consumption was only possible through increased indebtedness in western countries.

In December 1971, Honecker also set new accents in cultural policy , which were initially interpreted as liberalization and also used in this sense, while a restrictive reading prevailed after the mid-1970s at the latest:

“If one starts from the firm position of socialism, then in my opinion there can be no taboos in the field of art and literature. This applies to questions of content design as well as style - in short: the questions of what is called artistic mastery. "

Wolf Biermann on December 1, 1989 in Leipzig

A GDR-specific rehabilitation now also experienced the musical tastes of the younger age groups. At a dance music conference in April 1972 it was said: "We do not forego jazz, beat, folklore just because imperialist mass culture misuses them to manipulate aesthetic judgment in the interests of maximizing profit." In 1973, Honecker stopped the fight against reception of West German radio and TV stations in the GDR as well as the reservations against long hair, short skirts and blue jeans , the "riveted pants" that were previously known had been scourged as a symbol of Western decadence .

In foreign and German policy, Honecker followed the line of close ties to the Soviet Union, already championed by Honecker in the power struggle with Ulbricht, and invoked “firm anchoring in the socialist community of states”. Relations between the GDR and the Soviet Union were, according to the official reading in 1974, at a level of maturity "that there is practically no crucial area of ​​daily life that does not reflect friendship with the Soviet Union."

In the course of the New Ostpolitik of Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt , beginning with the Erfurt summit in 1970, there were efforts to reach an understanding between the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany. A transit agreement with foreign currencies for the GDR ensured easier transit through the GDR and improved the traffic route situation to and from West Berlin. With the basic agreement of September 21, 1972, which, among other things, regulated the mutual establishment of permanent representations in Bonn and East Berlin , the existence of both German states was mutually recognized on the basis of a peaceful coexistence. As a result, both German states became members of the UN in 1973 .

"Internationally recognized
trading partner GDR"
- propaganda poster in Leipzig, 1970

With the signing of the CSCE Final Act in 1975, the GDR government gained further renown in terms of foreign policy, but domestically it was faced with demands based on human rights based on the new international commitments. Citizens who petitioned the Secretary General of the United Nations and the governments of the CSCE signatory states who accused the GDR officials of depriving them of their liberty after rejecting an application to leave the country were arrested in October 1976 and convicted of " subversive agitation ", one year later in the Federal Republic deported . The West German government turned to the prisoner ransom in 1964 to 1989, 33,753 political prisoners from East German prisons total of 3.4 billion German marks to - the historian Stefan Wolle sees parallels with the soldiers trade under Landgrave Friedrich II of Hesse-Kassel. While of absolutism . In the Politburo, Honecker vigorously tried to prevent the emergence of an emigration movement motivated in this way. The first SED secretaries of the district leaderships were instructed on how to proceed as follows:

“Lately, revanchist circles in the FRG have been trying desperately to organize a so-called civil rights movement in the German Democratic Republic [...] It is necessary to reject these circles accordingly. This also requires that our competent organs reject all applications that apply for release from our citizenship and exit to the FRG on the basis of the Helsinki Final Act or other justifications . "

Honecker issued instructions that all such applicants were to be dismissed from their employment relationships and ensured that they were criminalized as part of an amendment to the criminal law in April 1977.

Also in the fall of 1976, with the expatriation of the songwriter Wolf Biermann, the beginning of the cultural and political opening with which the Honecker era had begun ended. Biermann's concert in Cologne, at which he was as drastic and critical of the GDR functionaries as he was communist and loyal to the GDR itself, provided the last pretext for Biermann's long-planned removal from the GDR. Unexpected for the SED superiors, however, came the protests against this expatriation measure , initiated by well-known GDR writers and generating a broad response, even beyond their own artistic circles . Of the twelve first signatories of the protest note of November 17, 1976, only two took part in the eighth writers' congress in May 1978. The others were not granted admission or voluntarily waived.

In terms of foreign policy, the situation for the GDR government became more complicated in the second half of the 1970s with the emergence of Eurocommunism, which was breaking away from the Soviet model, in Western Europe , with the establishment of the Charter 77 human rights group in Czechoslovakia, and at the transition to the 1980s the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and through the protest strikes in Poland in the summer of 1980, which were popularized with the independent trade union Solidarność .

Decline and turnaround (1981–1990)

The second oil crisis in 1979/80 had dramatic consequences for the GDR's economy , which led to accelerated economic decline. The Soviet leadership, themselves in economic difficulties, cut the GDR's annual crude oil deliveries on preferential terms from 19 to 17 million tons. Honecker intervened several times and asked Brezhnev “whether it is worth two million tons of oil to destabilize the GDR and to shake our people's trust in the party and state leadership”. The GDR had meanwhile specialized in processing parts of its Soviet crude oil contingent using the oil refineries in Schwedt, Böhlen, Lützkendorf and Leuna ( Leuna works ) and selling them on the Western European market at a good profit and against Western currencies. Since Honecker's protests did not get caught, but were answered with the request to support the difficulties of the USSR in solidarity, since otherwise its position in the world would be endangered with “consequences for the whole socialist community”, the financial and economic system of the GDR got into a “tangle of Worries and hopelessness ”(according to the chairman of the State Planning Commission Gerhard Schürer ).

Members of the party and state leadership of the GDR as well as representatives from abroad in an honorary gallery at the parade in Berlin's Karl-Marx-Allee on October 7, 1989, the 40th anniversary of the GDR
The Alexanderplatz demonstration in East Berlin on November 4, 1989
" We are the people " from the last year of postage stamps from the GDR (date of issue: February 28, 1990)

In 1982 the GDR was threatened with insolvency . It was largely saved from this by two West German billion-dollar loans in 1983 and 1984, initiated by the head of the Commercial Coordination Department responsible for foreign exchange procurement and at the same time Stasi officer on special operations (OibE) Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski , who won the Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauss as an advocate could by including a defusing of the GDR border regime was promised. The Schmidt III cabinet (1980–1982) had previously considered lending the GDR three to five billion DM through a “straw bank” in Zurich . The supply of the population with high-quality consumer goods could not be solved satisfactorily. Color televisions, refrigerators with freezers and fully automatic washing machines of almost western standards not only had to be paid for in a comparatively expensive manner, but also had to be paid for with long waiting times: “The delivery time for a fully automatic washing machine was up to three years; With at least a decade of waiting , the Trabant remained the uncrowned leader. "

On the Soviet side, however, the special German-German agreements also sparked distrust of the GDR leadership. This is one of the reasons why Honecker's visit to the Federal Republic , which was recorded as the culmination of the international recognition of the GDR, only came about in 1987. As had Mikhail Gorbachev to the Soviet Union glasnost and perestroika already embarked on a course of reform and had friendly parties and governments in the Eastern Bloc countries now free hand for the internal development . This shifted the basic foreign policy coordinates for the SED superiors, who were used to seeing the Soviet leadership as the guarantor of the GDR and their own power. They strictly refused to follow Gorbachev's model, now even imposed censorship on the Soviet media and propagated “ socialism in the colors of the GDR ”. While a number of Eastern Bloc countries relaxed their exit policy after Gorbachev took office, the GDR adhered to its restrictions, with which it isolated itself from the socialist camp at the CSCE follow-up conference in 1988 when it came to the recognition of human rights .

With this, the SED superiors in the GDR population met with incomprehension and increasing resistance, even in their own SED ranks. Organized forms of protest were mainly to be found in a peace movement that had arisen since the early 1980s. It consisted of local small groups , some of which were also committed to ecological and Third World issues and some of them developed under ecclesiastical protection and encouragement. The dissatisfaction with the SED regime took on increasingly clear forms in the course of 1989, especially during the protest against the falsified results of the local elections in May, and culminated in a diverse motivated civil rights movement. The GDR government also had serious problems with the mass exodus of GDR citizens via Hungary , which had dismantled its border security with Austria in the spring of 1989, made it possible for them to flee at the Pan-European picnic and, from September 11, 1989, also for GDR citizens to officially leave the country allowed to Austria. The protests of the reform-oriented civil rights movement were expressed in the Monday demonstrations that took place regularly during the autumn . While the demonstrators were pushed aside and harassed by the security forces at the celebrations in East Berlin for the 40th anniversary of the GDR's founding on October 7, the mass demonstration in Leipzig only two days later led to the groundbreaking breakthrough for the peaceful revolution in the GDR : Even the resignation of Honecker on October 18 and his replacement by Egon Krenz as well as the offer of the new SED leadership for a dialogue with the population did not stop the fall of power of the state party. The announcement of imminent travel opportunities for GDR citizens to the western part of Germany led to the rush to the Berlin Wall and its opening on the night of November 9, 1989. In 1989, around 344,000 people left the GDR for the Federal Republic.

The new government under Hans Modrow , the former 1st Secretary of the District Management of the SED Dresden , was controlled by the opposition forces at the round table , who also pushed for the dissolution of the Stasi apparatus , while the slogan changed during the continued Monday demonstrations: We are the people ! ”Until then, challenged the state power, the slogan“ We are one people ! ”Was now aimed at German unity.

With the victory of the Alliance for Germany in the Volkskammer election on March 18, 1990 , the course was set in this direction ( see main article German reunification ). A grand coalition under the first freely elected GDR Prime Minister Lothar de Maizière , energetically supported by the Kohl / Genscher government, pursued the goal of the GDR's accession to the Federal Republic according to Article 23 of the Basic Law after the entry into force of a monetary, economic and social union On July 1, 1990, the ratification of the Unification Treaty and - as a foreign policy requirement - the conclusion of the two-plus-four treaty with the former victorious powers of World War II, the GDR was absorbed into the Federal Republic of Germany on October 3, 1990.


Tribune of honor for the acceptance of the NVA troop parade on the 32nd anniversary of the GDR, 1981. From left: Horst Sindermann , Willi Stoph , Erich Honecker , Heinz Hoffmann , Erich Mielke


The striking changes that were made to the original constitution of the GDR reflect the development and the respective political guidelines of the SED leadership, which held the actual power in the state. Because both the state structure and the organization of the parties and mass organizations were subject to the principle of “ democratic centralism ”.

Article 1, paragraph 1 of the 1949 Constitution of the GDR read: “Germany is an indivisible republic; it is built on the German states . ”Since 1968, instead, with emphasis on the socialist character and the SED leadership role, it was said:

“The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state of the German nation. It is the political organization of the working people in town and country who, under the leadership of the working class and their Marxist-Leninist party, are realizing socialism. "

With the renewed change in 1974 (after the Basic Treaty and the admission of both German states to the United Nations ), the connection to the German nation was omitted:

“The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state of workers and peasants. It is the political organization of the working people in town and country under the leadership of the working class and its Marxist-Leninist party. "

Palace of the Republic , seat of the People's Chamber
The Stasi headquarters were stormed in January 1990

The Council of Ministers as the government of the GDR was constitutionally the highest executive organ of the state and was elected by the People's Chamber. The ministers came from the various parties of the National Front, but in practice had less influence than the secretaries and heads of departments who were represented in the central committee of the SED and who belonged to the respective ministry.

The actual center of power was the Politburo , which was chaired by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED . The decisions made at this highest level became binding for the lower levels in the manner of democratic centralism. Cadre policy and “ nomenklatura ” contributed to this, as did the increasingly extensive surveillance apparatus of the Ministry for State Security . Printed matter , radio and television, literature and art were subject to censorship , those with political differences were subjected to repression and were not infrequently criminalized.

The State Council of the GDR was - after the death of the first and only President Wilhelm Pieck in September 1960 - as a collective presidential body the head of state of the GDR. Walter Ulbricht became the first chairman of the State Council . Until the fall of the Berlin Wall, the chairman of the State Council was always provided by the SED.

Elections and legitimation of the regime

In all elections that took place in the GDR before 1990, those eligible to vote were only presented with a single list of candidates from the parties and mass organizations that were linked together in the National Front . There was no possibility of voting for individual persons or parties. For the elections, which were based on a purely confirmatory function of the rulers, the electorate was elaborately mobilized and, in the collectives to which they belonged, motivated or forced to participate with some emphasis. The individual voting process itself was usually carried out without any effort and not in secret: most of the voters - under careful observation - refrained from using the voting booths set up in the back of the polling station , but simply folded their slip of paper with the unit list and threw it in unread the urn . This process was popularly called "going to fold". As early as the first Volkskammer election in 1950 , extensive electoral fraud resulted in the picture that had become common on this scale from Soviet votes: 98 percent voter turnout and 99.7 percent approval.

These types of unity elections do not allow any conclusions to be drawn as to how large a percentage of the population approved or disapproved of the SED regime. Historians rely on estimates to answer this question. Stefan Wolle points out the consistently high voter turnout of 99%, which the SED repeatedly referred to for legitimation purposes. Since nobody had to fear prosecution for refusing to vote and the state propaganda was not taken seriously by anyone, Wolle assumes that the citizens of the GDR "partly reluctantly, partly approvingly and to a large extent indifferent" gave their vote to the candidates of the National Front . To explain it, he cites "an apparently deeply rooted striving for harmony with those in power, a joy in submission and the collective humiliation of outsiders".

The historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk emphasizes that no regime can be based on repression alone. The fact that the real existing socialism in the GDR actually met with approval was due to three promises of the regime: that war should never again start from German soil, that fascism or National Socialism should never repeat itself, and the promise of social justice. The GDR therefore acted as an anti-fascist peace state in which “everyone was allowed to live and work according to their possibilities”. Indeed, some wealth began to spread in the 1960s. The unity of economic and social policy enforced by Honecker in 1971 served the same purpose. In the words of Hans-Ulrich Wehler:

"At the price of obedience, loyalty to the system, the renunciation of active influence and readiness for conflict, an authoritarian-paternalistic care in the style of the propagated anachronistic 'security' was introduced."

According to the historian Arnd Bauerkämper , the party’s official promise of social equality met with a wide response. The real social inequality in the GDR and in particular the privileges of the nomenklatura, such as the forest settlement of Wandlitz , which is described as luxurious, led to a legitimacy gap and thus significantly to the fall of the regime in 1989.

The American historian Andrew I. Port, on the other hand, believes that the GDR had no legitimacy in the sense of Max Weber's sociology of domination . The fact that it did not collapse sooner despite the widespread dissatisfaction with its numerous shortcomings, he attributes to a widespread "unwilling loyalty". Many behaved defensively, participated as far as it was unavoidable and promised advantages. The numerous conflicting interests between the social groups and individuals in the GDR prevented the emergence of a broad opposition movement until 1989.

State symbols

GDR national coat of arms, formerly part of the facade of the StäV in Bonn

The flag of the German Democratic Republic consisted of three horizontal stripes in the traditional German democratic colors black, red and gold with the state coat of arms of the GDR in the middle, consisting of a hammer and compass , surrounded by a wreath as a symbol of the alliance of workers , peasants and intelligence . The first drafts of Fritz Behrendt's coat of arms only contained a hammer and a wreath of ears, as an expression of the workers 'and peasants' state . The final version was mainly based on the work of Heinz Behling .

With the law of September 26, 1955, the national coat of arms was designated with a hammer, compass and wreath of ears, while the national flag was still black, red and gold . By law of October 1, 1959, the coat of arms was added to the state flag. The public display of this flag was viewed in the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin as a violation of the constitution and public order until the end of the 1960s and was prevented by police measures (cf. the declaration by the federal and state interior ministers , October 1959). It was not until 1969 that the federal government decreed "that the police should no longer intervene anywhere against the use of the flag and coat of arms of the GDR."

At the request of the DSU , the first freely elected People's Chamber of the GDR decided on May 31, 1990 that the GDR national coat of arms should be removed in and on public buildings within a week. Nevertheless, until the official end of the republic , it was still used in a variety of ways, for example on documents.

The text risen from the ruins of the national anthem of the GDR comes from Johannes R. Becher , the melody from Hanns Eisler . From the beginning of the 1970s until the end of 1989 the text of the hymn was no longer sung due to the passage “Germany united fatherland”.

Legal system

Like the power-political structures in general, the legal system of the GDR was shaped by the SED's claim to leadership, as laid down in the constitution. There was no separation of powers based on the independence of the courts ; there was also a lack of other constitutional standards. In politically motivated proceedings, for example, lawyers were subject to arbitrary restrictions in safeguarding the interests of their clients: access to files was only granted in part, and discussions with clients were sometimes not allowed at all or only in a monitored manner.

The Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure of the GDR were decisive for the jurisprudence . In the area of criminal law, the GDR judiciary politically criminalized in part on the basis of vague and indefinite facts such as "subversive agitation", "public degradation", "impairment of state and social activity", "hooliganism", "anti-social behavior" or "unlawful connection" undesirable behavior. So blurred worded offenses did not meet the constitutional principle of certainty . In addition, there was an extensive and hardly foreseeable interpretation of such facts. Particularly in the first years of the GDR, extremely harsh penalties were often imposed for objectively harmless acts for " boycott agitation ". In politically significant proceedings, courts and the public prosecutor's office in the GDR were sometimes actually forced to act contrary to the legal situation due to specific requirements on the part of the SED.

The first constitution from 1949 still contained democratic and constitutional principles such as the separation of powers, certain basic rights such as the right to freedom of expression or assembly , the rule of law, freedom of the press and the independence of the courts and the administration of justice . Individual elements were also retained in the later constitutions of the GDR, but were actually not granted or only granted to a very limited extent. The low binding effect of the constitution and the lack of independence of the judiciary were shown, among other things. in secret procedures such as the Waldheim trials . In addition to its influence on the courts, the SED used internal party procedures (including Paul Merker ) to sanction members. The Central Party Control Commission was responsible for this.

Since there was no effective administrative jurisdiction , fundamental rights were not enforceable - there was no legal protection against the actions of the state organs (as the state authorities were called). Instead, since 1975 citizens who did not agree with their measures or decisions had the legally guaranteed possibility of submitting submissions to administrations, for example the city ​​council , party branches, the People's Chamber or the Council of State. The petitioners did not have a legal right to have their request fulfilled. Such submissions could also be sent to companies and other institutions. Entries regarded as justified may have been complied with, albeit arbitrarily and in a way that is often incomprehensible to the public. Submissions that were unwelcome to the authorities, especially with regard to exit applications, could lead to repression against the applicants. An estimated half a million to a million such submissions were received by the state and the party every year. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk sees an authoritarian tradition in the input system of the GDR , the historian Martin Sabrow compares it with the enlightened absolutism of Frederick II .

The planning law was a result of the party-controlled planned economy , the resolution of conflicts between different regional authorities and authorities , such as in infrastructure projects, environmental protection and monument law not provided for or unregulated.

International commitments entered into by the GDR, e.g. For example, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized within the framework of the CSCE gave opposition groups and dissidents more room for maneuver in terms of formal law. The same applied to the freedom of religious belief, which was incorporated into the GDR constitution in 1968 .

The regulations of the civil code were initially adopted in the GDR. The age of majority had already been reduced to 18 in 1950 (in the Federal Republic this did not take place until 1975), and the mandatory official guardianship for illegitimate children was abolished in favor of full parental authority of the mother. In 1966 family law was transferred to a separate law, the Family Code, and the distinction between illegitimate and legitimate children was abolished. The (remaining) civil code was replaced in 1976 by the civil code of the German Democratic Republic . Property , patent and inheritance law were strictly limited, contract law was committed to the planned economy. As in all real socialist states, an interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary labor law developed in the GDR in the sense of a right to work . This corresponded to the self- image of the SED, anchored in the traditions of the labor movement , according to which the marketing of labor on a free labor market was rejected as exploitation .

Parties and mass organizations

GDR postage stamp for the 20th anniversary of the SED
Torchlight procession of the FDJ on the 40th anniversary of the GDR

The party pluralism that also existed in the GDR alongside the dominant SED from 1949 to 1989 - the so-called socialist multi-party system - arose from the early efforts of the SMAD to bring the implementation of the Potsdam Agreement with regard to denazification and democratization in line with the goals of its own occupation policy. Therefore, in order to preserve the democratic appearance, no one-party system as in the USSR should initially be set up. Even bourgeois and nationally oriented parts of East German society should be included in an anti-fascist alliance, which was then formed into the National Front . The founding of parties that promised to open up Christian, liberal and national milieus was also emphatically promoted, and the spectrum of parties was combined to form the democratic bloc . As block parties were represented:

The purpose of recording and integrating as many parts of society as possible into everyday political life in accordance with the SED was also served by the mass organizations, in which those who were less politically interested could be encouraged to cooperate collectively. These included:

The distribution of mandates and offices among the parties and organizations was independent of the elections and remained constant for a long time. It is true that the SED itself held only a good quarter of the mandates, according to the proportional representation that was fixed before every election to the People's Chamber; but with the deputies of the mass organizations, mostly also SED members, it could not fail to have a majority, even if the bloc parties had wanted to behave less obediently than was usual under the pressure of the circumstances. In the 9th electoral period (1986–1990) the People's Chamber consisted of the following 500 members:

  • SED: 127
  • DBD: 52
  • CDU: 52
  • LDPD: 52
  • NDPD: 52
  • FDGB: 61
  • DFD: 32
  • FDJ: 37
  • Kulturbund: 21
  • VdgB: 14

Of these, 271 MPs were designated as workers, 31 farmers, 69 salaried employees, 126 members of the intelligentsia and three as other MPs. In the history of the People's Chamber, up until the turning point in 1989, there were only one dissenting votes, namely in 1972 from the CDU on the liberalization of the regulations on abortion through the law on the interruption of pregnancy . In addition to the People's Chamber, there were people's representatives at the district assembly level, district level and communal level, also elected according to a list of candidates drawn up beforehand.

In the turning point of 1989 , numerous new parties and organizations such as the New Forum , Democratic Awakening and the Social Democratic Party in the GDR emerged . On December 1, the People's Chamber deleted the SED leadership claim from the constitution. The SED itself tried to free itself from its dictatorial legacy by expelling its former leadership and gradually renaming it to the Party of Democratic Socialism . On March 18, 1990, these parties ran for the first and only free elections to the People's Chamber .

Restricted public life

Propaganda poster in Dresden , October 1985

The Marxist-Leninist doctrine as read by the SED gave the guidelines and limits to public life in the GDR. This also applied to the interpretation of the fundamental rights, for which it was stated in the constitution of 1968 that the GDR guaranteed all citizens “the exercise of their rights and their participation in the management of social development. It guarantees socialist justice and the rule of law. ”(Article 19, Paragraph 1). Furthermore, the following principle follows the statement: "Work with us, plan with us, govern!" the agreement with the GDR socialism bound:

  • The free development of personality was subordinate to the goal of developing socialist personalities and was only promoted in this sense.
  • The right to demonstrate on official occasions partly had the character of a collective obligation, but was not suffered in the case of oppositional statements and constituted a criminal offense in the form of " boycotts " or "subversive agitation" .
  • The freedom of expression in the form of the published opinion and ensuring freedom of the press were in the GDR reality tied to line loyalty within the current bandwidth. Statements deviating from this were subject to the various levels of state censorship . The “abuse of the media for bourgeois ideology”, which disciplined authors and journalists and, in addition to newspapers, books and other printed matter, also affected radio and television, satire, art and science, was also punishable .

Public life was strictly controlled, but its intensity fluctuated. At the beginning of the 1950s it was still quite possible to publicly e.g. B. to thematize the inadequate supply of spare parts for motor vehicles and to specifically name the guidelines of the government and its organs as the culprits. In later years the publication of such articles was unthinkable. In the cultural field, the accompanying censorship was subject to fluctuations. A period of relaxation came in the early 1970s when films like The Legend of Paul and Paula were made. However, the phase was rigorously ended with the ban on the system-critical rock band Renft in 1975 and Biermann's expatriation in 1976. A second phase of easing set in in the mid-1980s when films like Whispering & Screaming and Coming Out, as well as rock albums like Riot in the Eyes of Pankow and February by Silly , were released. That period of relaxation ended up in the peaceful revolution of 1989 , during which the public protests were not put down.

There was a shortage in the range of magazines approved by the censorship, especially in the weekly and hobby magazines. Illustrated magazines such as the magazine “ Neues Leben ” or the television magazine “ FF bei ” were very difficult to obtain. Popular media, such as “ Das Magazin ”, the only magazine that had nudes in its program, was limited in circulation in the GDR. Performances of the few political cabarets in the GDR (including Die Distel and Leipziger Pfeffermühle ) were sold out for years, but the performances on the radio or TV were only broadcast in exceptional cases and in parts. In the case of books, especially fiction , the printing approval procedure de facto led to prior censorship and work-specific control.

The "complete and perfect" surveillance of the public space in the GDR, which is unique according to wool - "The state security lay over the country like a giant octopus and penetrated the most hidden corners of society with its suction cups" - created a climate of constant uncertainty and a substitute public, fed by political jokes and rumors. The suppression of an independent public resulted in the general absence of political scandals . Scandalous public disputes, for example about theater performances in the 1950s and 1960s, the self-immolation of Pastor Brüsewitz in 1976, Biermann's expatriation or the coffee crisis in the GDR from 1977 onwards remained exceptions. They were also closely related to the reports in western media that were accessible to GDR citizens and the use of which the government was unable to object. With the exception of the so-called valley of the unsuspecting , West German radio and television programs could be received everywhere in the GDR . Especially after the building of the wall, political programs like “ Kennzeichen D ” or “ Kontraste ” with correspondent reports from the GDR contributed to the information about changes in the GDR. Since these also reached large parts of the GDR population, the GDR leadership tried to counteract propagandistically, in particular in the program " The Black Canal " moderated by Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler . The every evening "collective departure" by means of western television, which was tolerated in the Honecker era, undermined the credibility and effectiveness of state propaganda on the one hand, but also broadened the information horizon to the west for those physically prevented from traveling to the west, thereby easing the situation to a certain extent.

An all-encompassing political control of society was therefore not feasible on the part of the GDR leadership. For example, certain informal networks and freedom remained for the churches . The planned economy, with its unplanned side effects and deficits, also promoted the perception of self-interest and informal self-help activities in the collective. In spite of all general loyalty to the line, there was a certain amount of freedom, for example, in the bloc parties, where the bourgeois "you" were upheld and had no chance of getting into the real key positions of the state, but due to the lack of mass in relation to SED membership, they even expected better chances was able to move forward on the “party line” and to move up on a proportional basis in a privileged position compared to the GDR ordinary citizen.

The GDR had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The SED leadership largely hushed up and made taboo on the subject of high suicidal tendencies .

Political opposition and its fight by the Stasi

Samizdat magazine of the opposition environmental library , October 1989

The term GDR opposition refers to many different currents and forms of protest that have existed side by side and one after the other during the four decades of GDR history. They often appeared individually or in locally organized small groups. In the early phase of the GDR, the SED reformers who advocated a “special German path to socialism” formed a counterweight to the Ulbricht course, which was stripped of its ground through purges and targeted criminal prosecution. Opposition groups have emerged since the 1970s, adhering to a socialism modeled on the Prague Spring , committed to human rights, peace and all-round disarmament, or starting initiatives against environmental pollution and destruction. These resistors found support in parts of the Protestant Church, for example through the provision of rooms and publication opportunities.

Until the turning autumn of 1989 , including when the New Forum was founded , the civil rights activists in the GDR mainly advocated reforms and had to accept professional disadvantages, surveillance and, in some cases, repression. Politically dissenters were particularly observed in the nationwide state surveillance system, in particular with the help of the “unofficial employees” of the MfS (popularly: “Horch und Guck”). Depending on the degree of resistance to be expected from the point of view of the security organs , Stasi victims were fought with a whole range of methods, from mere intimidation to harassment and decomposition to long-term imprisonment in the Bautzen prison . In the case of “defectors” from the ranks of the Stasi and escape helpers , there were also kidnappings and murders on the secret orders of the Stasi. Torture and solitary confinement were among the various means of coercion, especially in the MfS pretrial detention centers , to make political prisoners compliant and confess. Physical torture was more likely to be used until at least the 1960s. Later, more and more psychological torture methods were used to wear down political prisoners and break their will, as the use of psychological torture is more difficult to prove.

Women and Family Policy

The law on mother and child protection and women's rights , passed in 1950, formed the legal basis of women's and family policy in the GDR . The compatibility of work and family was taken for granted for women in the GDR and was specifically promoted. By 1989, almost 92 percent of women were integrated into working life, which shows a significantly higher employment rate for women compared to the Federal Republic of Germany: on the one hand, the employment of women corresponded to the socialist conception of gender emancipation and, on the other hand, it served to cover the labor needs of the GDR, which was disproportionately high many male skilled workers had turned their backs at an early stage by fleeing. In management positions, however, women were clearly underrepresented.

The promotion of female employment was created, for example, through the development of a comprehensive infant and child care system or through special curricula and study plans for student families. As part of family policy , the state promoted married couples primarily when they had children. This was done through special loans and through a clear preference in the allocation of housing. On the issue of abortion, under the Abortion Act introduced in 1972, women were given the choice of terminating the pregnancy within the first twelve weeks. Nevertheless, the number of live births rose by a third between 1973 and the peak in 1980.

In everyday life, the emancipation of women through employment was usually accompanied by a double burden on the one hand at work and on the other hand in the household and family, in that traditionally male tasks were simply added to traditionally female roles. A survey from 1970 showed that of the average 47 hours of housework per week, 37 hours were done by women, around 6 hours by men and around 4 hours by “others”.

Environmental policy

The reindustrialization of the post-war period was associated with increasing environmental pollution in both parts of Germany. It culminated in the 1970s, when environmental protection was first weighted in economic policy - but not in the GDR: a lack of investment leeway made a rapid approach to environmental protection impossible in view of the already inadequate production of goods. The party leadership always considered the approach to western consumer conditions more important than measures to protect the environment. In addition, there was the ignorance of the GDR leadership towards committed citizens who would like to do something to protect the environment. In the 1980s, however, more and more environmental activists, cycling clubs etc. were formed. In a new study from 2009, the ecological balance of the GDR is described as "catastrophic". In the absence of hard coal deposits, lignite- fired power plants burned raw lignite on a large scale . The consequences were, among other things, the highest emissions of sulfur dioxide and the highest dust pollution of all European countries. The air pollution caused increased mortality; More than twice as many men died from bronchitis , emphysema and asthma as the European average. Around 1.2 million people did not have access to drinking water that met the general quality standard. Only 1 percent of all lakes and 3 percent of all rivers were considered intact in 1989. Until then, only 58 percent of the population was connected to a sewage treatment plant . 52 percent of all forest areas were considered damaged (see also forest dieback ). More than 40 percent of the garbage was improperly disposed of.

There were no high-temperature incinerators for hazardous waste . On the grounds that the environmental data were used by the class enemy to discredit, the data was classified as " Confidential classified information " from 1970 and as "Secret classified information " from the beginning of the 1980s and thus withheld from the public. Criticism of environmental policy was ruthlessly suppressed; also criticism of the extensive uranium mining that was carried out by the bismuth in Saxony and Thuringia. For a long time, the GDR was the fourth largest uranium producer in the world after the Soviet Union , the United States of America and Canada .

Rubbish imports from western countries (especially from western Germany ) brought the GDR foreign currency income that it urgently needed. The dumping prices in the GDR were sometimes less than a tenth of the prices charged in properly managed landfills in West Germany; For the garbage suppliers (companies, municipalities, federal states), garbage transport was therefore worthwhile despite the sometimes high transport costs. Part of the foreign exchange generated in these transactions, in which the Commercial Coordination Department and the Ministry for State Security played a leading role, ended up in the "Honecker account" and the "Mielke account" of Deutsche Handelsbank AG and was able to supply the SED- Elite are used in Wandlitz . Towards the end of the 1980s, the MfS determined not only in the Federal Republic but also in the population of the GDR a growing environmental awareness and, in some cases, a negative attitude towards garbage imports into the GDR. In contrast, those responsible for the disposal of West German rubbish in the GDR accepted non-compliance with German environmental standards.

In the GDR, public passenger transport and freight transport by rail were heavily promoted, which at the time was not ostensibly for environmental reasons, but nevertheless represented a sustainable transport concept that was initially discarded during the fall of 1989. In view of climate change , bad air and a lack of space in large cities, there is now a rethinking, and parts of this transport policy are being taken up again.

The automobile production of the GDR was neglected economically, so that further developments in terms of environmental protection were hardly implemented. The Trabant and Wartburg cars produced by the GDR contributed significantly to environmental pollution with their outdated two-stroke engines and their harmful exhaust gases. Exhaust gases from a two-stroke engine are clearly smell and visible due to their high KH content (blue exhaust plumes). Compared to a four-stroke engine without a catalytic converter, on the other hand, a two-stroke engine only emits a tenth of the amount of acid rain and smog that causes nitrogen oxide (NO x ).

Administrative structure and capital city problems

Bezirk Cottbus Bezirk Dresden Bezirk Erfurt Bezirk Frankfurt (Oder) Bezirk Gera Bezirk Halle Bezirk Karl-Marx-Stadt Bezirk Leipzig Bezirk Magdeburg Bezirk Neubrandenburg Berlin Bezirk Potsdam Bezirk Rostock Bezirk Suhl Bezirk Schwerin Volksrepublik Polen Tschechoslowakei Berlin (West) Deutschland#Bundesrepublik Deutschland und DDR (1949–1990) Dänemark
The districts of the GDR from 1952

Since its foundation, the administrative structure of the GDR was characterized by a strong central power. The first constitution of 1949 constituted a federal structure with the states of Mecklenburg , Brandenburg , Saxony-Anhalt , Thuringia and Saxony . These five countries were originally its own constitutional body , the Bundesrat , on the legislation involved the GDR, in addition East Berlin had an advisory capacity. Nevertheless, the GDR was not a real federal state , but, as constitutional lawyer Karl Brinkmann writes, “a unified state , moreover as a uniting power , more centralized. There was no federalism at all, but a strict unitarianism ”.

With the administrative reform of 1952 , the states were relieved of their functions. 14 districts took their place as the new middle level of state administration. At the same time, the number of urban and rural districts was greatly increased as part of a district reform . In 1958, the federal states were finally formally abolished.

Territorial division of the GDR into the districts and districts in 1989 with the largest cities

According to the constitution , Berlin was the capital of the GDR , which was a violation of the agreement reached by the Allies at the Yalta Conference in 1945 . Although after this entire Berlin as a four- sector city under joint Allied control, none of the zones of occupation and thus could not belong to one of the two resulting German states, the successive occupation of the eastern part by the GDR was ultimately tolerated by the western powers de facto (→  Berlin question ) . In 1977 the special features of East Berlin compared to the GDR were dismantled: the East Berlin administration was called the “ Magistrate of Greater Berlin ” until then . On January 1, 1977, the Ordinance Gazette for Greater Berlin and with it the official documentation of the adoption of laws from the GDR by the East Magistrate was discontinued. the control booths on the border of the eastern sector from Berlin to the GDR were removed. The three western allies always emphasized the special constitutional status of the whole of Berlin, which results from the occupation sovereignty exercised by all four victorious powers . Finally, the Western powers reminded the Soviet Union to “keep their obligations with regard to Berlin”, although since 1955 a gradual concealment of the legal situation in the Eastern sector could be observed, even if there was no legally binding document by which it was fully identified as part of the GDR.

The State Council of the GDR put East Berlin on a par with the districts in 1961. The following districts existed until the end of the GDR (bb according to community number key bbkkgg; bb: district (numeric); kk: district (numeric); gg: municipality (numeric)):

Foreign and Development Policy

Khrushchev at the 5th party congress of the SED in the Werner-Seelenbinder-Halle in Berlin, 1958

The GDR leadership was not allowed to pursue an independent foreign policy under Soviet influence. Even in the 1952 Stalin Notes , the GDR represented a power-political and diplomatic asset for the Soviet leadership: “If a reunification of the four zones of occupation had proven to be feasible, which corresponded better to the foreign policy interests of the Soviet Union than the status quo , the GDR regime would have been was not sacrosanct. "Only when the all-German option failed at the beginning of 1954 due to western preconditions that demanded free all-German elections, and when the acceptance of the Federal Republic into the western military alliance NATO was immediately apparent, did the USSR admit to the GDR in March of the same year," to determine at its own discretion about internal and external affairs ”. In May 1955, the GDR was already among the founding members of the Warsaw Pact .

One of the most urgent goals of its foreign policy was the claim of the GDR to be recognized internationally as an independent, sovereign state and as a subject of international law in relation to the West German Hallstein Doctrine . From February 24 to March 2, 1965 Ulbricht visited the United Arab Republic and was received there by Gamal Abdel Nasser with all the honors customary for a head of state. Subsequently, several Arab and African states were ready to enter into diplomatic relations with the GDR. In 1967 the Warsaw contracting states decided on the counterpart to the Hallstein Doctrine, the so-called Ulbricht Doctrine : "No member state of the alliance was allowed to recognize the Federal Republic as long as it had not recognized the existing borders and the existence of two German states." On the basis of the Ulbricht Doctrine Doctrine induced the GDR other Comecon states such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria to conclude mutual support agreements, and thus pre-empted an intensification of the relations of the Eastern European neighbors with Western Europe.

In the field of high-performance sport, those responsible in the GDR managed to bring their own state a sensational step forward in international competitions through targeted promotion of talent and, in some cases, with the help of systematic doping . At the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City , the GDR, which was represented with its own team for the first time, took fifth place in the national ranking .

On the national question , the SED has been relying since 1963 on “creating a solid basis in the first workers and peasants state for the working class to take over the leadership in all of Germany, disempowering the monopoly bourgeoisie in West Germany and the national question in the sense of the word of peace and social progress is resolved. ”The reading still held under Ulbricht that the two German states belonged to one nation was rejected after Honecker was replaced and replaced by the doctrine of the socialist nation that was developing in the GDR have. Already in 1967 was the place German citizenship to citizens of the GDR, the GDR citizenship entered.

Erich Honecker in the Élysée Palace with François Mitterrand , 1988

The new Ostpolitik of the Federal Government of Brandt / Scheel from 1969, which was linked to the idea of ​​“change through rapprochement”, was answered by the GDR leadership with a course aimed at self-assertion and recognition, demonstrative demarcation and the perception of one's own interests was. The reserve towards Brandt's Ostpolitik also had to do with the fact that it was initially essentially negotiated with the Soviet Union and, to Ulbricht's annoyance, the GDR leadership was initially not involved. The basic treaty with the Federal Republic of 1972 recognized the existence of two German states and on September 18, 1973 enabled the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany to be admitted as 133rd and 134th full members respectively by acclamation by the General Assembly of the United Nations ; While the " socialist brother states " ensured that the praise of the GDR was no less pronounced than that of the Federal Republic, it was on the part of the western states, in particular Israel through its UN ambassador, Yosef Tekoah , that expressed their opposition to admitting the GDR and justified this with the refusal of the GDR to recognize the historical responsibility of the German people for the mass murder of six million Jews as well as their support for Arab terrorists . However, there was still a special relationship between the two German states. There were no embassies in East Berlin and Bonn, but permanent representations . Since the Federal Republic of Germany did not recognize the citizenship of the GDR, but instead stuck to the continued validity of German citizenship even in divided Germany, every GDR citizen was automatically entitled to exercise all civil rights of a federal citizen. Last but not least, Honecker's Gera demands were directed against this in 1980 . For more than the peaceful coexistence of the two German states and their opposing political systems with continued competition, the GDR leadership had no federal government to offer.

The GDR had been part of the Comecon since 1950, where the Soviet Union dominated. Approaches to greater economic integration of the Comecon countries failed in the mid-1960s due to Romania's resistance ; bilateral economic relations with the Soviet Union became much more difficult after Leonid Brezhnev took office . The GDR had indirect access to the European Economic Community through intra-German trade . It was an advantage for them that their border with the Federal Republic of Germany, from a western point of view, was not a state border and therefore not subject to customs duties.

From the mid-1960s, the GDR was also active in foreign policy for a number of governments and revolutionary movements in the training of security forces and in the development of military infrastructure that accompanied arms exports. Intensive economic and armaments cooperation with Libya planned in 1977 did not come to fruition, however, after the two Central Committee members Werner Lamberz and Paul Markowski were killed in a helicopter crash near Tripoli in 1978.

At the beginning of the 1980s, several thousand NVA soldiers were stationed primarily as military advisers in Africa and the Middle East . The foreign presence of the NVA was only exceeded in the Warsaw Pact by the Soviet and Cuban missions abroad . The GDR avoided real combat missions by regular troops, but the GDR-typical combination of economic policy with military and infrastructure projects attracted international attention early on. This also involved efforts to compensate for the lack of foreign currency, which from the mid-1970s weighed heavily on the GDR's national budget .

Contract worker from Mozambique in 1987 in Mittweida

This resulted in a significant intensification and economization of GDR foreign and development policy beyond the Comecon. Barter deals with parallels to classic colonial trade, such as weapons and trucks from the GDR for green coffee and energy resources from selected partner countries, in particular Vietnam , Mozambique , Ethiopia and Angola , were sought. The significant role played by contract workers and the training of foreign civilian and military specialists on the part of the GDR continues to have an effect in German relations with Vietnam, Angola, Namibia , Mozambique and Ethiopia, for example .

Erich Honecker's trip to Damascus and Kuwait in 1982 was an attempt to stabilize the regime economically. Using Mozambique as an example, Hans-Joachim Döring states the exemplary failed attempt at broad economic cooperation, characterized by utopian and poorly prepared large-scale projects, for example in coal mining. Moatize in Mozambique was the only larger colony of GDR citizens outside of Comecon countries, with the German workers posted there being rigidly sealed off. Under these circumstances, latent racism also manifested itself. The GDR foreign activities were subject to secrecy; Trade and development concepts were hardly discussed in public. Private development initiatives were reduced to smaller church activities abroad. The specialists were selected less according to technical than ideological and security-relevant criteria.

The GDR took a politically tough line against Israel , with "anti-Zionist propaganda" it repeatedly crossed the line to anti-Semitism ; the GDR supported the PLO politically, financially and militarily.

Security policy

Troop parade on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the GDR with a formation of anti-aircraft missiles of the type S-75 ("SA-2 Guideline"), 1979

Soon after the end of the Second World War, so-called rearmament , that is, the reintroduction of military structures , took place in the two German states founded at the time, against the backdrop of the approaching Cold War . This construction took place in the GDR under the guidance of the Soviet Union and from 1955 within the framework of the Warsaw Pact : In 1948, with the barracked readiness, the first armed units were created after the war. These were transferred to the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (KVP) in 1952. On March 1, 1956 - almost a year after the Bundeswehr was founded - the National People's Army (NVA) was founded. In the establishment of the armed forces of the GDR, as in the case of the Bundeswehr, former officers of the Wehrmacht as well as the Waffen SS played a role. Most of them had already made themselves available to the National Committee for Free Germany during the Soviet captivity .

Soviet armed forces in the GDR

Posting of a poster on the 40th anniversary of the Red Army's victory over Hitler's fascism

The Group of the Soviet Armed Forces in Germany (GSSD), which emerged from the Soviet occupation forces, comprised an average of 500,000 officers, soldiers and family members in the GDR who claimed around 10 percent of GDR territory. The troops of the GSSD were subordinate to the NVA and other military organizations. Its main task was to secure the GDR against the West . The GSSD was armed with offensive weapons, including nuclear weapons . According to a study, the widespread and pre-emptive use of tactical nuclear weapons had been planned in Germany in the event of war since the 1960s . Even after Mikhail Gorbachev turned away from the offensive war plans of the Eastern Bloc in 1986, the massive use of large-caliber nuclear weapons was played out in the GDR in the NVA exercise "Staff Training 1989".

National Peoples Army

Honor guard of the guard regiment Friedrich Engels of the NVA at the memorial for the victims of fascism and militarism ( Neue Wache ) in Berlin in the exercise step

The National People's Army (NVA) was the GDR's army from 1956 to 1990 . It consisted of the land forces, the people's navy and the air forces . After the introduction of compulsory military service in 1962, the NVA had around 170,000 soldiers.

The NVA described itself as the "power instrument of the working class" to protect and secure the "socialist achievements" from external attacks. It was intended to defend the GDR and the other socialist states allied with it in the Warsaw Pact against possible "imperialist aggression". The NVA developed from a domestically oriented, very strongly politically controlled party army to an instrument of an increasingly independent foreign policy. The GDR tried to avoid military confrontations and deployed security forces and military advisers primarily in the context of arms exports and economic projects.

The SED secured the political leadership of the armed forces through the Political Headquarters (PHV) and a special structure of party organizations. The officers and cadets were a few exceptions, members of the SED. A high proportion of SED members was also aimed for among the NCOs.

During its existence, NVA associations were not involved in any war. In 1968, parts of the NVA were earmarked for military operations to put down the Prague Spring . There were plans to take part in the invasion of the Warsaw Pact states into the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic with two divisions . Because of the expected devastating effects on foreign policy - it would have been the first combat deployment of German troops abroad after the Second World War - they limited themselves to logistical support for the suppression of the Prague Spring.

Border troops

The border troops were responsible for the border protection of the GDR. They were set up in 1946 as border police and in 1948 had a staff of 10,000. In 1956 the border police of the NVA was designed as a border troops branch . As part of the Helsinki disarmament process, it was postulated that the border troops would be independent in order not to count them as part of the regular army strength. However, like the National People's Army, they were still subordinate to the Ministry of National Defense (MfNV) and would have been used as motorized shooters in an emergency. The vast majority of the troops served to guard the inner-German border with the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin and, above all, to prevent GDR citizens from attempting to escape to the West. Several hundred people were killed by members of the border troops on the basis of the order to shoot . The 6th Coastal Border Brigade took a special position with regard to securing the maritime border on the Baltic Sea .

A command post for the border troops on the heavily guarded inner-German border near the town of Teistungen , now a museum site

Relatively few forces controlled the Oder-Neisse border with the VR Poland and the border with the ČSSR .

From January 1, 1972, a visa-free border traffic was set up between the GDR and Poland as well as the ČSSR , which was actively used by the citizens of the GDR. Between Frankfurt (Oder) and Słubice (Poland) alone, between January 1 and September 20, 1972, exactly 2,773,612 Polish and GDR citizens crossed the border. Traveling to Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria was also relatively uncomplicated. The prerequisite for this was that the socialist countries involved kept their borders (including ports and airports) to the west just as closed as the GDR. Since this was not the case in Yugoslavia, for example , GDR citizens could only travel there in the exceptional cases that also applied to Western European countries. Since the GDR leadership viewed the strike movement and the political growth of the system-critical trade union Solidarność with great concern and feared it would spill over to the GDR, trips to Poland were made very difficult again in November 1980, and a personal invitation from the Polish authorities was now necessary was to be exhibited. In the visa-free border traffic, the border troops or passport control units limited themselves in most cases to checking identity cards , while the GDR customs authorities searched all the more intensively for imports and exports of prohibited merchandise . Not only weapons and narcotics fell under the import ban, but also newspapers and other periodical press products, calendars, almanacs and yearbooks, insofar as they were not included in the GDR's postal newspaper list, as well as tapes (including cassettes ) and videos of all kinds. The bans applied also for books "the content of which is directed against the maintenance of peace or the importation of which contradicts the interests of the socialist state and its citizens in any other way" and for records "insofar as they do not concern works of cultural heritage or of genuinely contemporary cultural work".

More security guards

The "Feliks Dzierzynski" guard regiment was the military arm of the Ministry of State Security . Since the regiment was not officially part of the armed forces, it could be stationed in Berlin despite the four-power status- related stationing ban . The teams consisted of conscripts who committed themselves to three years of military service and who came from “politically reliable” families. The tasks included securing state and party institutions in the area of East Berlin as well as the forest settlement near Wandlitz , where the party and state leadership lived. The workforce was around 10,000 in the 1980s.

The barracked units , to which the VP readiness (battalions) belonged, were a military grouping that did not belong to the branches of the People's Police (VP), but was equally subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior (deputy minister and head of the main department readiness / combat groups ). The focus of their orientation in the late 1960s, the fight against diversion reconnaissance groups operating behind the front in times of war, shifted more and more in favor of the ability to fulfill tasks in the elimination of "disturbances of public order and security". The relatives were conscripts.

The fighting groups of the working class were a special military organization, which consisted mainly of male SED members and were organized in factories, state institutions, LPGs as well as universities and technical schools. In their free time, the relatives took part several times a year, mostly on Fridays or weekends, in military exercises or training courses in uniform, which were instructed by VP officers. The combat groups thus contributed to the militarization of GDR society. In the state of defense, the district combat forces were intended to be integrated into the NVA units.

The historically most important mission of the combat groups was to secure the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. They were also mobilized to support the People's Police, for example, when Soviet soldiers deserted with ammunition. The combat groups were particularly present at the annual May Day parades .

As police and intelligence services existed:


Natural resources and industrial sites of the GDR (as of August 1990)

The central administrative economy of the GDR, which produced on the basis of five-year plans and organized the distribution of food and consumer goods, was based on the largely forced socialization of private forms of property in industry, agriculture, trade and handicrafts; private entrepreneurs, for example, were harassed with allegations of not paying taxes on time if they did not want to integrate themselves into state-owned companies. In their place there were nationally owned enterprises (VEB), agricultural production cooperatives (LPG), trade organizations (HO) and production cooperatives of the handicrafts (PGH). The basic size of the work organization was the collective, often in the form of a brigade . The most complex form of company organization represented the combines . The characteristics of the GDR economic system included job security and a higher level of employment of women compared to the social market economy of the old Federal Republic - with significantly lower overall economic productivity despite the bonus incentives in " socialist competition ". A drifting apart of social classes in material terms occurred in the GDR compared to the Federal Republic only to a small extent. Both the prices and the supply of goods were based on government guidelines, which resulted in an extensive system of subsidies as well as inadequate coverage of needs for certain foods and high-end consumer goods. The increasing demand for western imports could not be compensated by the export performance and increased the national debt.

The GDR economy was controlled as a central administrative economy based on the Soviet model by the State Planning Commission . In addition to the expropriated, now state-owned large-scale enterprises, which were mostly combined in combines , and cooperatives, there was also a medium- sized enterprise in the GDR , which made a noticeable contribution to the GDR's economic performance until its expropriation in 1972.

A two-year plan came into effect in 1949, followed by the first five-year plan in 1951 to organize the GDR economy according to Marxist-Leninist ideology. Reconstruction in the GDR took place more slowly than in the Federal Republic of Germany, and not only because of the desired centrally planned economy. The USSR, hard hit by the war , carried out extensive dismantling in the Soviet-occupied zone and transported material and products on a large scale as reparations . The GDR, like other Eastern Bloc states, had to forego services from the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe due to Soviet pressure. Another aspect of the unequal conditions was the limited raw material deposits: there were neither large iron ore nor hard coal deposits on the territory of the GDR. The upswing in the east was considerably slower than in the west. Groceries remained rationed in the GDR until 1958 , while in the Federal Republic no grocery stamps were needed for shopping since 1950 .

Nonetheless, in 1958, Ulbricht set the goal that within a few years the per capita supply of GDR residents “with all important foodstuffs and consumer goods should exceed the per capita consumption of the entire population in West Germany.” “Durable goods or“ trash ”of Western design, but goods with a high practical value,“ that are beautiful and tasteful, that working people happily buy and use. ” Hans-Werner Sinn writes about the resulting long-term difficulties for the GDR leadership "with adventurous statistics have been calculated their workers the East German authorities that their standard of living in many areas that of their Western counterparts same [...]." the hopes of being able to overtake the west actually economically, were nourished by the teachings of Marx ', the predict a collapse of the capitalist mode of production in the long term. As a result of the industrialization of the Soviet Union under Stalin and its rise to a world power , the outcome of the Cold War still seemed open. Examples of the initially Stalinist economic strategy and its ruthless implementation are the focus on heavy industry , the monumental design of Stalinallee in Berlin and the bloody suppression of workers' protests against the harsh norms . From then on, the SED was careful not to force high work rates - the phase of de-Stalinization from the mid-1950s led, among other things, to a stronger focus on the immediate needs of the population. In the course of the 1960s, hopes of being able to overtake the West economically in the medium term dried up. Ulbricht's motto in future was "overtaking without overtaking".

Part of Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin

Nevertheless, there was also a significant economic upswing in the GDR during the 1950s and 1960s. The production of consumer goods in the GDR rose continuously. For example, there were 3.2 cars for every 100 households in 1960, and in 1970 there were already 15.6 cars. The number of televisions rose from 18.5 to 73.6, refrigerators from 6.1 to 56.4 and washing machines from 6.2 to 53.6 devices per 100 households. The housing situation has been significantly improved through extensive housing construction programs. Despite redistribution by the Comecon , the GDR had the highest standard of living within the Eastern Bloc and has been one of the most important industrial countries in the world since the 1970s . During the Cold War era, the situation in the West was a benchmark for both the government and the people. However, to the annoyance of its population, the GDR could not keep up with the pace of the Federal Republic's economic upswing from the start.

After the nationalization campaign of 1972, the private sector was limited to small businesses such as butchers, carpenters, etc. with up to 10 employees, which were, however, disadvantaged in terms of material supply, tax and legal situations and were therefore not considered to be very promising. After a few experiments to improve economic competitiveness with foreign countries, there was a domestic supply crisis in 1970. When Erich Honecker took office in 1971, under the slogan “ Unity of economic and social policy ”, an attempt was made to demonstrate through extensive social subsidies that it was nevertheless the more progressive state. The economy was reoriented towards meeting the consumer needs of its own population, placing international competitiveness aside. This is how the supply crisis that broke out in 1970 was actually overcome and the new political course was confirmed. With his rejection of Honecker's economic strategy, Ulbricht was partially right: To finance the greatly increased consumption , Honecker reduced the share of the investment volume in the state budget. The rate of accumulation for productive investment decreased from 16.1% in 1970 to 9.9% in 1988. This turned out to be a devastating wrong decision, which ultimately led to the economic solidification of the GDR.

The existing investment funds were concentrated on major projects such as the development of microelectronics , with the criminal neglect of other branches of industry . "To build a self-sustaining microelectronics industry there was the GDR no alternative, she wanted to maintain a leading position in the group of industrialized countries." Due in part to the ideological personnel policy in research and development (cf.. Werner Hartmann ), was due to the the lack of innovative capacity of the centrally planned economy and the refusal to cooperate in Comecon, the western technology embargo of the CoCom can only be met inadequately. That is why the SED tried to eliminate these technological deficits in the development of the microelectronics and computer industry by means of a strategy of " reinvention " with the broad use of secret service methods by the MfS. “In principle, this strategy could not eliminate the gap to the leading manufacturers in the world, but at best reduce it. Ultimately, however, the technical possibilities of the GDR to copy the products of the competition did not keep pace with the rapid development, [...]. "

Within the GDR there was a historically grown difference between the heavily industrialized south and the agrarian north. State structural policy tried at great expense to reduce this difference, for example by setting up large-scale combines such as the Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost in Eisenhüttenstadt or the Petrochemical Combine (PCK) in Schwedt . In addition, the Rostock port was massively expanded and several large shipyards were built along the Baltic Sea coast. This was accompanied by an internal migration movement from the old industrial areas of the south to the greatly expanded cities of the north such as Neubrandenburg , Rostock or Schwerin .

The range of goods remained at an unchanged unsatisfactory level. Technical innovations or new thinking, such as the emerging environmental awareness at the time, could not be taken into account. The inflexible shortage economy demoralized the population and, in the course of the 1980s, even parts of the SED, as the so-called Schürer paper of October 30, 1989 shows. The export performance neglected under Honecker was no longer sufficient to cover imports . In the secret Schürer paper, the balances of the foreign trade companies of the GDR KoKo were not taken into account for reasons of secrecy when calculating the debt level , so that a much higher debt was assumed than actually existed. This was also confirmed by Schürer himself in later publications. Compared to the non-socialist economic area , the net foreign debt was 19.9 billion DM. According to the figures of the Bank for International Settlements and the Bundesbank, the foreign exchange liquidity was actually available in 1989 . Compared to the countries of the socialist economic area, the GDR achieved a net creditor position (credit balance) of 6.0 billion currency marks in 1989. In addition, there were liabilities of state enterprises to the GDR state budget.

The SED leadership feared an impending insolvency after the experiences of the liquidity crisis of 1982. This crisis was overcome in 1983 by the billion -dollar loans negotiated with Strauss by Schalck-Golodkowski and restored the creditworthiness of Western banks. Subsequently, the solvency of the GDR was secured according to the motto “liquidity comes before profitability”. Research has disputed whether the turnaround was triggered or accompanied by the risk of acute insolvency. According to wool, the SED regime was “on the verge of insolvency” in its final year. This is disputed by the historian Armin Volze . According to Hans-Werner Sinn, “In 1989 the GDR was in a run-down condition, and was hardly able to increase productivity or improve the range of goods on offer. The average real wage level of the GDR population was at most a third of the western level. "


The first five-year plan from 1951 to 1955 mainly pursued the goal of eliminating the consequences of the war and increasing production, especially in the energy , heavy and chemical industries . 1955 existed in the GDR still more than 13,000 private enterprises, and in agriculture which was collectivization completed until 1960th

The production figures in the GDR reached double the pre-war level in 1957. In the same year, 213 million tons of raw lignite (50 percent of world production), 32.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 2.9 million tons of steel (14 times as much as in 1947) were produced in the GDR. In chemical production, the GDR had the second highest production rate in the world and was the largest machine exporter of all Eastern Bloc countries. By 1965, industrial production had risen to around five times its pre-war level.

National income of the GDR in billion marks of the GDR based on comparable prices (basis 1985, p. 13):

Total social product

National income produced
1950 98.186 30,352
1960 240.271 79.379
1970 405,477 121.563
1980 655.212 193.644
1988 810.963 268,410

Income and consumption

Juwel cigarette pack, 1988


As a rule, wages and prices were determined by the state. Some consumer goods, especially imported goods, were consistently scarce in the GDR. Essential consumer goods were mostly available in sufficient quantities, but the variety of products and options available were much lower than in the Federal Republic of that time. Mainly everyday items were subsidized with a uniform sales price . Technical equipment and other goods that could also be exported for foreign currency, on the other hand, were often very expensive (measured by the purchasing power of the population). A color television cost between 3,500 and 6,900 marks in the 1980s , while a bread roll cost  five pfennigs. It is noteworthy that most of the GDR's consumer goods came from its own production. However, the best products were often exported and were hardly or not at all available to the local population. The coffee crisis at the end of the 1970s was a striking example of the shortage of imported goods because of the civil protests . The party leadership tried to save foreign currency by reducing coffee imports. Due to widespread protests in the population, the measures had to be abandoned again. The range of goods in East Berlin was better than in the rest of the GDR.

The government advocated absolute price stability from the start. In fact, the prices of most goods changed little or nothing over the decades. In contrast, income rose continuously. A simple factory worker at the Sachsenring plant earned 6,586 marks in 1960 and 16,237 marks in 1989. Since the production of goods did not develop in an equivalent manner, a massive excess of purchasing power built up. The population preferred to save their money because they saw no adequate value in the available range of goods. The distribution of financial assets in the GDR counteracted socialist principles: around ten percent of the account holders owned 60 percent of the financial assets.

The high interest rate on savings of over 3 percent further distorted the situation. The state found itself unable to solve the problem, since it used the savings of the population as investment loans . With rising salaries and stable prices, the population was suggested a level of prosperity that did not exist.


The incomes of a saleswoman (around 600–800 marks), an engineer (around 500–1,200 marks) and a construction worker (around 900–1,800 marks) differed in terms of amount and thus also in terms of savings potential; the income gap was not as wide as in the western industrialized countries. It is not uncommon for skilled craftsmen to earn at least as good as senior doctors. Income rose steadily over the decades, especially the salaries of simple factory workers, some of them disproportionately high. In the Sachsenring plant in the 1980s, for example, simple production workers sometimes earned more money than qualified masters and qualified engineers at the plant. The medium-sized private sector, as it existed in the GDR until the early 1970s, made it possible for individuals to work their way up to become millionaires. This was achieved, among other things, by a soap manufacturer from Dresden. In the GDR in the 1970s and 1980s, however, this was no longer possible due to nationalization and legal restrictions.

Money and assets played a far less important role in the GDR than they do today because of the socialistically regulated markets. Questions of prosperity were questions of social position, political attitudes, private relationships, inventiveness and much more. The highest party cadres enjoyed increased prosperity, but did not live in decadence. Stories of gilded water taps in Wandlitz and the like have turned out to be untrue.

retail trade

Consumer village shop, 1960
Centrum -Warenhaus Suhl , 1969

In the post-war period, money hardly played a role. The scarce consumer goods were checked centrally and distributed to consumers in rationed quantities against cards . In 1958 the GDR abolished the remnants of food rationing because, after the currency reform in June 1948 , the SED had nothing to counter the developing efficient economic system in the western occupation zones. However, the economists and bureaucrats of the young GDR misunderstood the importance of private consumption and developed the planned economy , fixed on a network of large industrial companies , in whose niches consumer goods sales were improvised.

In retail stores, especially those of the cooperative consumer organization and the HO , the "everyday goods" were sold. In addition to small shops, there were larger self-service shops called “ Kaufhallen ”. Department stores and department stores were set up in larger cities. The trade organization ran them as center department stores , the consumer cooperatives theirs as consumer department stores . “High-end goods” were offered in special, licensed shops in order to absorb purchasing power: initially the exquisit shops for clothing and shoes . Five years later, luxury delicatessen stores with food and beverages were opened, the delicatessen stores . The Intershop stores were founded to procure foreign currency and from 1962 sold imported goods or goods made in the GDR under Western brands for foreign currency.

In 1969 and 1970, the rapidly increasing income and assets of the population and the poor supply of consumer goods resulted in a surplus of purchasing power that the planners had not foreseen. The accumulated inflation and the inability to continue building scarcity prices for high-quality products prompted the government in 1974 to legalize the DM and foreign currency stocks already stored by GDR citizens and to collect them by opening the Intershops.

The supply of many products was subject to great fluctuations. In the 1950s and since the 1970s in particular, there were repeated supply bottlenecks, the only exceptions being staple foods , tobacco products and alcohol. Everything else was, at least in phases, only to be had as a stumbling block or on the black market : This was fed by the private importation of consumer goods from the Federal Republic, which gained momentum with the new Ostpolitik of the social-liberal coalition and finally reached a volume of several billion. Payments were made with DM, with GDR marks at significantly overpriced prices or they were exchanged. This black market was tolerated by the regime because it satisfied the demand of the population, which not least was fueled by advertising television from the West; At the same time, he contributed to a destabilization of the regime because, according to Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, he kept alive the “longing for the 'right' West”. From 1978 the GDR developed from beer to spirits country. In terms of spirits consumption , the GDR took third place from 1975 and first place among European countries from 1987.

Electronics and media technology

Electronic items such as radios, cassette recorders, stereos and televisions were usually produced in-house by RFT . These goods were politically classified as not essential for everyone and, as luxury goods, had their price accordingly. The production of computer technology took place in the combines Robotron and Microelectronics Erfurt . From the mid-1980s onwards, in addition to professional computers, consumer goods such as the Robotron KC 87 home computer were produced, but until the end of the GDR, the production figures for such devices remained rather low.

In 1989 only 17.2% of households were equipped with a telephone connection. Doctors, police officers and employees of the MfS were given preference over a private telephone connection.

means of transport

Tatra T4 tram on its own route in Dresden city ​​center next to Wartburg 353 and Trabant 601
Trabant 601 - the "Volkswagen" of the GDR
Vehicle registration number of the GDR (valid from 1973 until reunification in 1990); to 1973 she led as the Federal Republic of Germany D .

The supply of cars did not play a major role in the economy of the GDR. The deficit compared to West Germany was justified with the exploitative working conditions in the West, which were not necessary in the GDR, as well as with the difficult initial conditions due to the division of Germany and the associated loss of numerous raw material and supplier companies. The SED criticized the Federal Republic for focusing unilaterally on promoting the automotive industry. Plans to catch up with the West soon were abandoned in the mid-1960s when the gap in the automotive sector began to grow, obviously and insurmountably. Traffic experts in the GDR saw the increasing traffic chaos in large western cities caused by private cars as confirmation of the correctness of the orientation towards public transport.

Public transport was promoted, but the building was partly in poor condition due to the general shortage of materials. Trams were manufactured in Germany by member companies of LOWA such as the Gothaer Waggonfabrik until 1965 , but afterwards, due to the COMECON specifications, constructions by the manufacturer ČKD Tatra were imported from the ČSSR. Buses were obtained from the Ikarus works in the People's Republic of Hungary . Public transport fares were low. In contrast to the traffic planning in the Federal Republic of Germany, special emphasis was placed on the expansion of an extensive tram network. This difference can still be seen today in the Berlin tram network. When building new residential areas, routes for trams in the GDR were always included in the planning. The train service of the Deutsche Reichsbahn was also very cheap. Freight traffic was mainly carried out by rail, most of the companies were connected to the rail network.

The Trabant made up about half of the passenger car fleet in the 1970s and 80s . It was built in the VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau , was a small car and, after the introduction of the Trabant 601 model, has only been further developed in detail since 1964. Most of the production facilities in the passenger car sector were showing signs of wear and tear, and profits were hardly or not at all reinvested. Promising developments like the Trabant 603 or Wartburg 355 were politically stopped (see also  Comecon Car ). From the end of the 1960s, the vehicle models therefore increasingly moved away from the world class and even outdated compared to the cars of other socialist countries. The Trabant became a symbol of the frozen economy in the GDR.

Truck production in the GDR was essentially limited to the Barkas pickup truck , the three-tonne Robur and the five-tonne W 50 . Larger trucks were imported from other Comecon countries, such as Tatras and KAMAZ . Volvo vehicles were often used for long-distance transport. The shortage of vans was particularly acute, and imports from the Polish Żuk , the Russian UAZ-452 and the Romanian Rocar TVs , known as Balkan goats , changed little. Cars with load trailers were therefore often used for transport purposes. Multicar is the only car manufacturer in the GDR that still exists today. The small, agile mini-trucks fill an existing gap in the market.

Simsonroller SR50, produced 1986-2002

The GDR was a country of two-wheelers: Simson produced over five million mopeds from 1955 to 1990, most of which remained in Germany. The number gives - measured against the 17 million inhabitants - an impression of how widespread mopeds were back then. This was also due to the permissive approval guidelines; A small driving test was enough to be able to drive a 60 km / h moped at the age of 15. In addition, there was the Simson Suhl AWO 425 and another three million motorcycles from Zschopau from MZ . In contrast to the passenger cars, the two-wheelers of the GDR did not lag so far behind the international standard, even in the 1980s there were still advanced products such as the Simson SR50 .

All bicycles were also manufactured in the GDR itself. The most important manufacturers were Diamant and MIFA . The former were regarded as a respected brand until the 1960s due to their international racing successes.

From the travel agency of the GDR and air travel were offered. For example, a flight from Leipzig-Mockau to Barth on the Baltic Sea cost 80 marks. In general, however, air travel for private vacation purposes was not very widespread. Even distant destinations like Bulgaria were often reached by car or by train.


With the state housing program of 1972, the prefabricated building was elevated to the most important new building type.

There was no open housing market in the GDR. Depending on social status, whether married or how many children, etc., apartments were allocated. Individual wishes can often only be realized through an agreed home exchange. Especially as an unmarried adult without children, it was problematic to get an apartment of one's own at all. The cold rent for an apartment was usually around 30, less often up to 120, a month, depending on the furnishings. This is extremely little, also taking into account the average income of 1300 marks per employee at the time (1989).

The war damage made extensive housing programs necessary. From the beginning of the 1970s, a maximum of rationalization and standardization of new residential buildings was achieved with the prefabricated building technology . The result was the construction of a number of residential complexes and entire city districts using prefabricated panels. Since the demand for new apartments was immense, individual demands on the residential complexes were largely disregarded. Despite the extensive construction of new apartments, there were long waiting times for new apartments even in the 1980s, as the old buildings were falling into disrepair. In view of the housing shortage after the war, the cost-intensive renovation of old buildings was initially out of the question in both German states. In some cases, old buildings that were still intact were demolished in order to make space for more cost-effective new buildings. While the redevelopment of the old towns began in the Federal Republic of Germany at the end of the 1960s with state funding for urban development , the old town centers in the GDR fell into disrepair. Since politics in the GDR were based on the number of newly built apartments and the stipulated rents were not sufficient to maintain the buildings, often not even basic repairs of the roofing were carried out and many old buildings became dilapidated. The demand for construction work “clearly exceeded the volume of construction actually carried out in the GDR.” Serious estimates in 1991 classified 20 percent of the building stock as “unrecoverable”. Up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, extensive renovation measures could only rarely be implemented in the GDR; Examples are the Kollwitzplatz area in Berlin- Prenzlauer Berg , which was extensively redeveloped in 1987, as well as showcase areas in the city centers of the trade fair city of Leipzig and the classic city of Weimar .

Due to fixed rents and state housing allocation, the residential districts were less homogenized according to income groups than in many Western countries today and for the most part exhibited a high degree of social mix: members of different social classes often lived close together. However, the party nomenclature and the staff of many state organs were concentrated in certain residential areas.

The construction of single-family houses was initially only possible within narrow limits due to a shortage of materials (for example there were regulations on the amount of stones used and prescribed house types depending on the size of the family), but experienced a certain boom in the 1980s due to state subsidy programs for single-family houses. Apart from that, it was always difficult to get private building material, so that building new or renovating houses on one's own initiative was associated with major hurdles. There were no hardware stores; Getting a bathtub, tiles or cement privately was usually only possible with contacts in the state construction industry. The unfavorable framework conditions for the construction and maintenance of private land had an impact on land prices, which were extremely low.

Medical supplies

Wheelchair with lever drive in the GDR Museum Pirna

Medicine was extensive in the GDR, but not always at the highest level. The GDR was not able to guarantee the latest international standards everywhere, especially when it comes to equipment and drug supplies, due to a lack of foreign currency. Supply and equipment deficiencies were increasingly evident among pensioners and those in need of care, although the benefits in the Federal Republic of Germany were not comparable with today's levels. The outpatient medical care was organized in polyclinics and by means of community nurses, both care models were initially discarded in the course of the fall of the Wall in 1989. Efforts are now being made to reintroduce both. The situation is similar with the compulsory vaccination , which was initially abolished in the course of reunification and partially reintroduced in 2019.


The freedom of GDR citizens to travel was severely restricted. The background to this was the strong tendency towards emigration, especially of qualified workers, which was supposed to be counteracted by restricting the freedom of travel. Thus, until the fall of 1989, the government refused the majority of the GDR population free travel to western and even socialist countries. Most of the vacationers stayed in the GDR, preferably on the Baltic Sea, in the Thuringian Forest and in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Travel to other socialist countries was subject to a very restrictive authorization practice. They required so-called travel facilities, which had to be requested from the People's Police. It was only possible to travel to the ČSSR and to Poland between 1972 and 1980 without prior authorization. After the conclusion of a mutual legal assistance agreement between Belgrade and East Berlin for the extradition of renegade GDR citizens, 2000 selected GDR citizens were allowed to travel to Yugoslavia under special security precautions. According to the travel ordinance published in the GDR Law Gazette , GDR citizens under 65 could apply for trips to non-socialist countries , but the Stasi behind the scenes classified the applications as mostly "unlawful" and rejected them. Exceptions were made for "urgent family matters" when a return to the GDR was considered likely, e. B. if children or the spouse were left behind as a deposit. There were also simplified regulations for trips to the West if the trip was for professional reasons. From 1964 onwards, pensioners were allowed to travel to western countries for several weeks a year, because their absence did not mean a loss of workforce for the GDR. Although the GDR signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Final Act , nothing changed for GDR citizens until the fall of the Berlin Wall. There was also an exit application , which, however, did not deal with travel in the tourist sense, but with emigration from the GDR and was also only partially approved and subject to harassment.

Failed economic reforms

When the expectations conjured up in the Ulbricht era that the West would catch up with and surpass the West in terms of economic efficiency and consumer supply turned out to be an illusion at the end of the 1950s, the causes were initially sought in “over-centralization”. This was to be remedied with the New Economic System of Planning and Management of the National Economy (NÖSPL), which promised new impulses and measurement parameters for determining needs and increasing profitability on site. There was just as little thought of turning away from the party-controlled planned economy as of a socialist market economy based on the Yugoslav model.

After the concept of targeted promotion of leading branches of industry promoted by Ulbricht failed to produce the prospect of success, there was a renewed push of centralization under Honecker, in which in the first half of the 1970s most of the still privately owned companies were nationalized through forced majority shareholdings were: "There was only a small private remnant in handicrafts, retail and gastronomy [...]."

The administration building of the combine industrial glass Ilmenau, a typical example of industrial buildings of this time

Since the end of the 1960s, the associations of state-owned companies that had previously been used for economic networking were increasingly being replaced by combines , in which, for rationalization purposes, the areas of production, research, development and sales of a certain VEB segment were combined and provided with a uniform management. The high level of vertical integration often associated with this was at the expense of a greater division of labor, efficiency and productivity. Fundamental deficiencies could not be remedied in this way.

“Because in numerous companies there were endless problems with wear and tear and repair because the funds for modernized equipment were not available. A disastrous consequence of this was the never-ending series of accidents, including many with fatal results. As a further consequence, there was a drastic loss of working hours, the number of which was increased by the frequent lack of material deliveries. "

Not only was industrial production well below the planners' expectations as early as the 1970s. In the period from 1971 to 1981, for example, grain and animal feed had to be imported from the NSW for around 15 billion currency marks , as agriculture, among other things. because of poor harvests (1969) and further restructuring, no longer produced any surpluses. At the end of the 1970s there was a further specialization in agriculture. The horizontal as well as vertical integration showed only minor positive economies of scale with a comparatively high workforce . This industrialization of agriculture also had ecological side effects such as soil erosion , high levels of manure and groundwater pollution . The farms and the combines suffered from a lack of capital and investment; worn out systems could only be replaced slowly, since agricultural machines were an important export good. A system comparison of agricultural production showed that the incentives of a functioning capital market were just as lacking in the GDR as were price signals on the demand market due to the highly subsidized basic foodstuffs .

With the reorientation towards the unity of economic and social policy decided on at the 8th party congress of the SED in 1971 , Honecker laid the groundwork for a cost-intensive program of expanded consumer offers and social benefits (the “ second wage packet ”) that added to the state budget of the GDR at the beginning of his term of office cost dearly in the long run and the national debt continuously increased. The Schürer report of October 1989 took stock of this development:

“In the period since the Eighth Party Congress (1971) , consumption grew faster than the company's own performance. More was consumed than was generated from own production at the expense of the debt in the NSW, which increased from 2 billion VM in 1970 to 49 billion VM in 1989. That means that the social policy since the 8th party congress has not been based entirely on own achievements, but has led to growing indebtedness in the NSW. "

The first oil crisis in the 1970s did not hit the GDR economy directly. Initially, the GDR even benefited from the delayed adjustment of the oil price increases in Comecon trade, as it was able to earn more foreign currency in the West by refining Soviet oil . The strongest economic performance of the GDR as well as important foreign policy successes and international recognition also fall during this period. At the same time, expenditure on Honecker's social policy grew much faster than national income from 1972 onwards . When the Soviet Union reduced its crude oil deliveries at preferential prices from 19 to 17 million tons in 1981/82 due to its own economic problems, the GDR was again increasingly dependent on domestic lignite: an additional environmental burden.

Attempts were made to overcome the growing foreign exchange shortage through foreign exchange procurement measures, for example through the promotion of foreign trade companies , through Intershops and through the increase in income from the western GDR visitors forced minimum exchange . The export promotion was increasingly at the expense of the domestic supply of consumer goods and at the expense of corporate modernization investments. A special branch of foreign exchange management was the area of commercial coordination , which was headed by Schalck-Golodkowski and which had special connections to western countries. The activities extended to a wide variety of fields. Art and antiques owners in the GDR were expropriated and the collection items were sold in the West. Further foreign exchange income was obtained from the trade in blood donations, which GDR residents were encouraged to do in solidarity with foreign liberation movements. Even the storage and disposal of West German rubbish and toxins in GDR territory was made possible in exchange for foreign currency. Last but not least , the release of prisoners , in which the Federal Republic of Germany paid the GDR considerable sums for the release and relocation of prisoners critical of the regime, turned out to be particularly profitable . In the period between 1964 and 1989, more than DM 3.4 billion was raised for a total of 33,755 prisoners. Arms exports, for example to Africa and the Middle East, were also used to procure foreign currency.

From 1977 the GDR leadership made special efforts to build up its own microelectronics industry with a focus on military applications, in which around 15 billion GDR marks were invested until 1990. However, the Soviet Union stopped buying armaments products from the mid-1980s, and the switch to purely civilian production led to absurd cost structures due to the boycott-related lack of availability of western basic technologies.

The GDR leadership also fell significantly short of the goals set when it came to the central socio-political project of creating housing. The figures given, for example, when Honecker handed over the two millionth new apartment since the start of the housing program in 1973 and the three millionth apartment in 1988 were falsified. In reality, only about two thirds of the new apartments in question had been created, while at the same time the substance of the old buildings in towns and villages, unrenovated, was falling into disrepair.

The state investment programs could not prevent the GDR economy from falling further behind technical progress. The ineffectiveness of the planned economy and the weakness in innovation of the GDR economy had a negative impact. All economic reform efforts that had been aimed at overtaking the Federal Republic since the Ulbricht era were in vain. The comparative value with regard to the real gross domestic product per inhabitant, which in 1950 was 50 percent in the GDR compared to the Federal Republic, was only 36 percent in 1985. In the end, according to Klaus Schroeder, the GDR economy lagged behind in modernization by at least 20 years. Immediately before his withdrawal movement to West Germany, Schalck-Golodkowski prophesied to the chairman of the SED party control commission , Werner Eberlein , in a letter in early December 1989 that the GDR would become insolvent at the end of the year or soon thereafter. The business management was not aware of the actual foreign debt due to the GDR's internal concealment of information. Because outstanding debts and foreign exchange reserves were kept secret, which had been invested by the Commercial Coordination department, among others, Schürer set them clearly too high at the time.

The financial resources of the companies were also increasingly unfavorable in the 1980s. Honecker 's 'consumer socialism' had generously put the profits of the companies into the state budget and gave them investments, including those for non-company services such as B. FDGB holiday homes, billed as loans. In 1989 the debts of the state-owned enterprises to the State Bank amounted to 260 billion marks. In addition, increasing repair costs led to falling replacement investments and therefore to capital wear and tear. Other non-company services such as company fighting groups (KG) and company party organizations (BPO) unnecessarily inflated the administrations and placed additional burdens on the companies. A self-sustaining upswing in the GDR would therefore only have been possible with extreme consumption restrictions.

“The economic collapse began in 1981 and became evident in 1983. [...] Without reunification, the GDR would have faced an economic catastrophe with unforeseeable social consequences because it was not able to survive on its own in the long run. [...] The GDR industry would never have got back on its feet on its own. "

Labor and social law

The regulation of uniform labor law was typical of socialist societies . It was based on the rights and obligations of the individual towards society (not on freedom of contract, for example in the sense of the German Civil Code ); see labor law in the GDR . In the GDR there was the right to work and the duty to work, enshrined in Section 24 of the GDR Constitution. Anyone who evaded this duty was considered anti-social and thus complied with a criminal offense under Section 249 of the Criminal Code from the age of 16 .

The social insurance , including health and pension insurance was for workers and employees as a uniform insurance of social FDGB assigned and for self-employed entrepreneurs of the State Insurance of the GDR .

Foreign trade

MZ motorcycle

As a highly industrialized country, the GDR was dependent on the import of various goods, food and raw materials. The GDR mark was a domestic currency , which means that it was not freely convertible into other currencies. The GDR had to pay for purchases outside the Eastern Bloc in convertible currencies ( foreign exchange ). Exchange deals were an alternative . The foreign trade volumes of the GDR increased over the years (figures in billions of currency marks , effective prices):

year Total foreign trade
of which in
of which in
of which in
industrialized countries
1950 3,678 2,660 0.014 1.004
1960 18,487 13,799 0.791 3.897
1970 39,597 28,340 1.601 5.346
1980 120.101 79.810 7.331 32,960
1988 177,337 122.549 5.889 48.898

One of the main problems of the GDR economy was that exports to the “ non-socialist economic area ” (NSW) had to be subsidized at an enormous expense. The export expenditure doubled between 1980 and 1988 because the prices of basic and raw materials had risen sharply on the world market and there was insufficient investment in the national economy. The productivity gap between Western Europe and the GDR continued to grow. In addition, the DM (=  value mark ) had in the meantime appreciated significantly against the US dollar .

The most important foreign trade partners were the Soviet Union and the Federal Republic. The comparatively small GDR was the Soviet Union's largest trading partner with a share of 11 percent in foreign trade. Conversely, the Soviet share of GDR foreign trade was 40 percent. The exchange of goods with the Soviet Union grew from 1.5 billion currency marks (1950) to 7.9 billion currency marks (1960) and reached a value of 71 billion currency marks in 1987. While reparations payments were still included in this in the first years after the Second World War , a lively exchange of goods soon developed independently of this. This was based on the industrial efficiency as well as on the raw material requirements of the GDR; because this was in divided Germany z. B. cut off from hard coal deliveries from the Ruhr area and Upper Silesia and had to replace them with lignite high-temperature gasification. In the Comecon, the GDR was dependent - in addition to domestic lignite - primarily on oil from the USSR as the basis of its energy and chemical industries. For its part, the Soviet Union had a significant need for industrial, consumer and (including military) electronic goods.

When the GDR joined the Comecon in autumn 1950, an attempt was made to coordinate the economies of the member states based on division of labor and to eliminate deficiency symptoms through mutual specialization and cooperation. One of the tasks of the GDR economy was to meet the industrialization needs of the Soviet Union. This affected infrastructure, agricultural machinery and transport equipment, ships, passenger coaches, machine tools and cranes. In addition, through the Wismut AG founded for this purpose, the GDR supplied uranium pitchblende to the USSR, which was used for the production of nuclear weapons. The decision made in 1983 to significantly expand the military industry and arms exports as part of the so-called microelectronics initiative was no longer effective due to Gorbachev's policy.

15 percent of the GDR's foreign trade volume was handled and exchanged duty-free in so-called interzonal trade with the Federal Republic. The GDR thus enabled technology transfer from the West to the Soviet Union and was also able to indirectly access the Western European market. The Commercial Coordination Department and the MfS were involved in these partly illegal imports, which also included armaments-related goods and circumvented Western embargo regulations, as well as in exports to the Federal Republic of Germany. Trade with West Germany offered the GDR considerable export opportunities. In this way, it was able to deliver goods from its own production and from other socialist states, contrary to the trade agreement with West Germany ( Berlin agreement / country of origin binding), preferably to the Federal Republic of Germany and to EEC partner states of the Federal Republic. It used illegal methods such as smuggling, forgery of certificates of origin, etc.

This created a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, the SED propagated the GDR's membership of the Comecon, its outstanding importance and the superiority of the planned economy system over capitalism. On the other hand, it secretly promoted its western trade, but above all the lucrative domestic German trade. In order to disguise this “balancing act between economy and propagated ideology” and to protect itself from reprimand by the USSR, the GDR reported its sales in trade with the Federal Republic too low. In the 1970s, the GDR benefited significantly from the intermediate trade in Soviet crude oil and chemical raw materials and fuel derived from it, thanks to its connections to the West.

Coffee was one of the scarce and, for consumers, relatively expensive imported goods. The suspension of Soviet coffee deliveries in 1954 led to one of the first GDR supply crises. By the 1970s, coffee had become one of the most important items in the budget of many GDR households. A pillar of the coffee supply for GDR residents with personal connections to the Federal Republic for a long time were the appropriately stocked " Western packages ". The rise in world market prices in 1977 caused by bad harvests resulted in a noticeably reduced coffee supply in the GDR. Drastic price increases and the failed attempt to make coffee blends containing substitute coffee more palatable to the population (→  coffee crisis in the GDR ) led to widespread and unusually violent protests by the population and to a considerable loss of face for the political leadership, which finally returned to the coffee trade at world market conditions .

Technology and science

Sigmund Jähn , GDR cosmonaut and the first German in space in 1976
Manfred von Ardenne at the Volkskammer conference in 1986

As an industrialized country, the GDR tried to make itself independent of the West in many industrial and technical areas and to fulfill its technical tasks within the framework of the Comecon and “socialist integration”. Scientists and technicians from the GDR played an essential role in this. Well-known names in this area are, for example, the inventor Manfred von Ardenne , the cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn and the molecular biologist Jens Reich . There have been considerable successes in some areas. Research and science in the GDR was primarily application-oriented and practice-oriented.


Vehicles used in traffic see: Transportation in the GDR




Culture, education, sport

Culture and education in the GDR were intensively promoted and strictly regulated in line with state doctrine. The constitution of 1968 propagated a socialist culture , the culture- filled life of the working people and a close connection between those working in culture and the life of the people . "Physical culture, sport and tourism as elements of socialist culture serve the all-round physical and mental development of the citizens."

Apart from the official GDR cultural scene, however, subcultures also emerged that were only accessible to a limited extent to state censorship. Organized in private circles, they offered areas of retreat and development that sometimes gave the impression of a “niche society” for everyday life in the GDR.


Semper Opera , 1960

In the cultural life of the GDR, which is strongly controlled by the SED, phases of opening alternated with such rigid tutelage several times during the four decades of its existence. In the Soviet occupation zone, the main concern was overcoming fascist barbarism, which was opposed by the Cultural Association for the Democratic Renewal of Germany ( KB ). With the construction of socialism, a socialist realism was demanded in the cultural field , which should aim at a "truthful, historically concrete representation of reality in its revolutionary development". The Bitterfelder Weg , begun in 1958, represented a particularly broad-based approach to the goal, in which, according to the slogan: "Grab your pen, mate, the socialist national culture needs you!", A cultural-political mass movement of the working class according to Ulbricht's specifications should also get down to work in literary terms . The name given to this orientation was the reference to the GDR chemical sites around Bitterfeld , which were particularly important to the SED leadership at the time , whose working world was now to be represented by the factory workers themselves in the socialist spirit. Since the quality of the results of the campaign did not meet expectations, those in charge of the GDR later distanced themselves from the approach of allowing socialist art and literature to be produced by the working people themselves. In the GDR late phase of the 1980s, the preservation of and the examination of the bourgeois-humanist legacy were upgraded in terms of cultural policy, for example in connection with the Luther year 1983 or the 750th anniversary of Berlin in 1987.

In 1957 there were 86 theaters, 40 symphony orchestras, 11,092 libraries, 284 local history, art and natural history museums, 803 cultural centers, 451 clubhouses, 6 full-time folk art ensembles and 3,078 cinemas, in 1988 there were 18,505 state, trade union and scientific libraries, 1,838 culture and clubhouses, 962 youth clubs, 111 music schools, 213 theaters, 88 orchestras, 808 cinemas, 10 cabarets, 741 museums and 117 zoological or pet gardens. The famous Dresden Semperoper , which was destroyed in World War II, was able to reopen in 1985. The Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin is the last great building to be built in the GDR.

Karat on the occasion of the 40th anniversary in the Berlin Waldbühne

A special feature of GDR culture is the wide range of German rock bands. The spectrum ranged from “state rockers” like the Puhdys to critical bands like Silly and Renft . Some formations such as Karat or City also celebrated international success. (See also: Music of the GDR )

Shortly before reunification, the GDR's last minister of culture, Herbert Schirmer , confiscated the GDR's commissioned art and almost all state-owned works of art from all cities, state-owned companies, schools, cultural centers, pioneer houses, clubs, etc. and brought them to Beeskow Castle . There were 23,000 works, consisting of 1,500 paintings, 12,000 graphics, 2,000 drawings, photos, posters, sculptures, and gifts to government agencies and companies. Since then, these works have been managed by the Beeskow Art Archive , which regularly uses them to put together exhibitions.

Youth cultures
Operating singing group in Lauchhammer , 1978
Structure of the school system in the GDR in 1989

The development of young people into socialist personalities is part of the state policy of the German Democratic Republic and of the entire activity of the socialist state power.

Such legal requirements, which had to be observed and implemented in all state institutions, placed high expectations on the behavior of young people in accordance with the system, which, however, were also influenced by rock and beat music as well as by pop culture , conveyed by Western media .

The Free German Youth (FDJ), which was oriented towards the Bundische youth movement and the political youth organizations at the beginning of the century, built on the youth experiences of the GDR leadership, which, however, was only partially accepted by the GDR youth of the 1960s. When the repression after the building of the Wall gave way to a phase of new advertising by the SED for the approval of the population, the music and dance forms imported from the West were officially tolerated and promoted for a while. In 1964 the GDR youth radio DT64 was founded, which also found supporters in the West. After the revival of a GDR beat movement with groups such as the Sputniks , the Butlers and the Diana Show Quartet , the GDR leadership reacted decisively defensively to the new development from the end of 1965. There were strict controls, requirements and prohibitions that led to the Leipzig Beatdemo . Walter Ulbricht's statement became known: “Is it really the case that we have to copy every filth that comes from the West? I think, comrades, with the monotony of the je-je-je, and whatever it is called, yes, we should put an end to it. "

Films that were significant for GDR youth culture included “ Hot Summer ” at the end of the 1960s and “ The Legend of Paul and Paula ” (1973). At the beginning of the 1970s Ulrich Plenzdorf's text " The New Sorrows of Young W. " became a document of an outsider culture specific to the GDR. Through the Festival of Youth and other SED-friendly events in the Federal Republic of Germany, bands such as the Puhdys , Karat and Pankow , the Singebewbewegung and the GDR-specific songwriting culture had experiences in the West that fostered interactions. Wolf Biermann's expatriation in 1976 led to numerous GDR writers and artists protesting against the SED superiors: a renewed break in the cultural development of the GDR. An exodus of many prominent artists followed, such as B. Manfred Krug or Nina Hagen .

Nonconformist youth in the GDR were subject to constant repression.

The right-wing extremism in the GDR was kept secret, or by the Stasi as "decadent amoral views" Young lined linguistically. From the mid-1970s onwards, the GDR youth began to lose loyalty to the socialist system, and interest in western youth and subcultures and their musical styles awoke. Young people from the blueser or customer scene became increasingly involved in church youth work, later also the punks in the GDR , because there were design options outside of state control: open discussions, suitable rooms, concerts by bands that were banned in the GDR. The highlights in this context were the blues masses in East Berlin churches with up to 7000 participants (June 24, 1983), including an audience from West Berlin.

The Goth movement began around 1985 . At the same time, the other bands set out to establish a music and youth culture between punk , new wave , indie rock and metal independent of state control.

In the mid-1980s, the number of members of right-wing extremist skin, fasco and Nazi popper groups, which Westskins envied for their high level of violence and brutality, increased, which in 1988 led to increased court cases in large east German cities. Right-wing extremist youths gathered around some football clubs, among other places.


In 1957 there were 10,471 general education schools in the GDR (including 1150 middle schools and 373 high schools). By centralizing and increasing the number of classes , the number of general education schools ( POS , EOS , special schools) was reduced to 5907 by 1988.

A similar development took place in vocational training. In 1950 there were 1583 vocational schools, in 1988 there were 955. It was guaranteed that every school leaver accepted an apprenticeship or went to a college or university to study . In 1957 there were 307 technical schools, 46 colleges (including six universities) and five academies. In 1988 there were still 237 technical colleges and 53 colleges and universities.

The education system of the GDR was essentially conceived as a uniform community school system, with subsequent tertiary educational institutions. Building on the pre-school education in kindergarten and the ten-class polytechnic high school (POS), which was compulsory for all children from the 1960s, followed

  • a two- to three-year vocational training (qualification as a skilled worker)
  • a three-year vocational training (skilled worker certificate with high school diploma ) or
  • a high school diploma at the Extended Oberschule (EOS). This began already after the 8th grade of the POS and led to the Abitur in four years. It was not until the beginning of the 1980s that two years of EOS followed the end of the ten-year POS.

Essential characteristics of the school system of the GDR were

  • uniform educational content for all children up to grade 8 (later 10) and the beginning of external differentiation after grade 10; this uniformity was the basis of the final exams of the 10th grade and the Abitur;
  • the targeted preparation for the future world of work through polytechnical training and a focus on mathematical and natural science subjects, while the humanities subjects were strongly ideologically oriented;
  • the striving for a unity of education and training with the aim of the complete integration of the graduates into the socialist society (and low tolerance for those who think differently).

In parts of the districts of Dresden and Cottbus, a comprehensive Sorbian school system was set up after 1945 , which was initially strongly promoted and expanded. Sorbian was the language of instruction in so-called A schools and a compulsory foreign language in B schools. After a change in the state's language policy, attending Sorbian classes was no longer compulsory after 1964 and the number of pupils fell dramatically.

Despite a training and job guarantee and very high pressure to adapt to young people who did not meet the norm, there was a significant number of unskilled workers in the GDR. The proportion of school leavers with a university entrance qualification was significantly lower in the GDR than in the west. Occupational groups with a known low influx of trainees were particularly encouraged, the allocation of apprenticeships and study places was planned centrally on the basis of the calculated requirements and directed by the school management and teachers. This often restricted the freedom of career choice.

Defense education

From 1978 on, girls and boys in the 9th and 10th grades had to take part in military instruction, an exemption was not possible. Here, in a theoretical part, basic military and political knowledge about the NVA and “socialist national defense” was imparted. A major part of the practical military training was a military camp for the boys or a course in civil defense for girls and boys who did not take part in the military camp.

The pre-military training continued for most of the young people in vocational training and at the EOS as well as in their studies. The Society for Sport and Technology (GST) not only trained young people on a voluntary basis in military sports, but was also responsible for a large part of the pre-military training for all young people.


Katarina Witt , figure skater

Sport played a special role in the GDR. In kindergartens and schools, systematic efforts were made to develop athletic fitness, on the one hand for reasons of public health, but also for the purpose of spotting and promoting talent for high-performance sport, with which the GDR sought to increase its international reputation. The young talents were trained in special sports schools and later in performance centers. The Sports Medicine Service of the GDR was a specially set up medical network. The system was scientifically accompanied by a very differentiated system of sports science institutions, the focus of which was on the training process and training theory .

On the one hand, popular sport was promoted . Ulbricht coined the phrase: “Everyone in every place, once a week sport”, in which the “once” was later replaced by “several times”. In 1988 there were e.g. B. 10,674 sports associations with almost 3.8 million active members, 159,006 referees and referees and 264,689 trainers. There were 330 sports stadiums and 1,220 sports fields. In 1988, a total of 1,064,000 children and young people took part in the district and district Spartakiads.

With the successes in competitive sports, the state leadership promoted the recognition of the GDR both in the eyes of its own population and internationally. For this reason, the GDR leadership also used doping in a targeted manner in order to increase the results, and from 1974 established a comprehensive doping system under the name “ State Plan Topic 14.25 ”. At the Olympic Games alone, GDR athletes won 25 medals in Mexico in 1968 , 66 in Munich in 1972 and 102 in Seoul in 1988 . From 1986 to 1988 they produced 90 world champions and 77 European champions.

public holidays

Historical-political classification

There are very different theses in research on the historical-political classification of the GDR regime. At most, there is agreement that it was a dictatorship . The SED formulas for the GDR such as “ workers and peasants' state ”, “peace state” or socialist democracy are no longer in use.


The designation of the GDR as totalitarian is widespread, but also controversial . The contemporary historian Klaus Schroeder describes it as a "(late) totalitarian surveillance and supply state"; the social historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler describes it as a "totalitarian party dictatorship of a collaboration regime on the basis of an occupation communism, which [...] was enforced by all means of a colonial re-establishment". The similarity to the Nazi regime implied in the term totalitarianism is emphasized by Karl Dietrich Bracher , who describes the GDR as the "second German dictatorship" (after that of the National Socialists).

Others consider the term totalitarianism to be applicable only to a limited extent to the GDR or reject it resolutely. It is sometimes asserted that the character of the regime has changed over time: In the Ulbricht era, and especially during the 1950s, the regime was thoroughly totalitarian, whereas the Honecker era tended to weaken the repression and the state's propaganda monopoly is marked. The political scientist Eckhard Jesse therefore sees the GDR in the 1970s and 1980s only as an authoritarian state, albeit with totalitarian features. Political scientist Peter Christian Ludz had already come to a similar conclusion in 1968 . He tried to prove that the modernization and differentiation processes typical of modern industrial countries also took place in socialist countries. In the course of such a modernization, the claim to power of the old ruling elite was called into question by a more modern “ technocratic counter-elite”, which had softened the dominant character of the regime to “consultative authoritarianism”.

The historian Stefan Wolle sees some “striking similarities” between the Nazi and SED dictatorships in terms of the Führer cult, mass parades, torchlight procession at night and the type of propaganda speeches, but he points to structural differences in economic organization, the concentration of power and in terms of popular approval comparatively bloodless character of the SED regime, which is neither responsible for racial persecution nor for industrially organized mass murder. These differences made "a meaningful use of the totalitarian theory for both parties impossible". Even Wolfgang Wippermann rejects the thesis of the similarity of both dictatorships from behind which he suspected two non-scientific purposes: First, it was a matter of playing down the Nazi regime and German responsibility for the Holocaust into perspective, on the other demonizing the GDR was intended , which serve current political purposes, recently the delegitimization of the party Die Linke . For the contemporary historian Martin Sabrow , “the fundamental difference” between the NS and SED regimes results from today's “universally recognized norms” of human coexistence:

"National Socialism has an inherent belief in the inequality of human beings and the right of the fittest, while communism as a political manifesto, regardless of its structural orientation towards violence and its certain salvation character , combines goals such as equality, justice and solidarity, which have their value with its political failure have not lost. The socialist dream allows for more readings than the National Socialist break in civilization . "

Opponents of a designation of the GDR as totalitarian also point out that the state's grip on the individual was nowhere near as great as assumed. Private or ecclesiastical circles and associations, as well as non-state milieus such as the allotment gardens, had rather offered niches in which self-realization, private happiness or even a "counter-rationality" could have been realized that opposed the state-decreed ideology with completely different formations of meaning. The term “niche society” had already been coined in 1983 by the publicist Günter Gaus , who lived from 1974 to 1981 as head of the permanent representation of the Federal Republic in East Berlin.

"Participatory dictatorship" versus "welfare dictatorship"

The London historian Mary Fulbrook contrasts the repressive traits of the SED regime with the multitude of those involved in its functioning and brings the whole thing to the term “participatory dictatorship”. Countless voluntary functionaries in a large network of organizations close to the regime were taken for granted in the 1970s and 1980s by "a very significant proportion of the population" in their system-loyal appearance and actions, through which they participated in the "microstructures of power". According to Fulbrook, the great majority of East Germans were involved in a system “in which they had to participate; and because of their participation, they themselves have been changed. Ultimately, therefore, it was a dictatorship that was sustained by the action and interaction of the vast majority of the population. ”Many people in the GDR never had any reason to run against the national and systemic borders and therefore believed a“ completely normal life “To be able to lead.

The German-American historian Konrad Jarausch uses the term “ welfare dictatorship ” to capture both the social and the repressive aspects of the regime .

"Unjust state" versus "dual state"

Another attempt to define the character of the GDR in terms of terminology is the term injustice state , which was discussed in the German mass media in connection with a controversial statement by the Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Erwin Sellering, in the spring of 2009. On the other hand, inter alia objected that this term excludes the realities of life of the GDR citizens, some of whom have had little or no experience with the state apparatus of repression.

The political scientist Gesine Schwan suggests characterizing the GDR as a " dual state " based on Ernst Fraenkel . As in National Socialist Germany, in the GDR there was also a "state of action" in addition to the "state of norms": While the former was concerned with the smooth functioning of the economy and society within the framework of an existing legal system, the state of action was concerned with the implementation of ideology. To this end, he was able to override the rule of law at any time. The GDR was not a constitutional state , but its one-sided description as an “unjust state” placed the work and life of all former GDR citizens under general moral suspicion .

See also

Portal: DDR  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of the GDR


Web links

Commons : DDR  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: German Democratic Republic  - Sources and full texts
Wiktionary: GDR  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: GDR  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl Ebert: Forms of rule in the 20th century , in: Politics: Teaching texts and work materials , Springer, 2013, ISBN 978-3-322-89235-5 , p. 236. From 1968 onwards, it used the self-designation " socialist state " (constitution of the GDR of April 9, 1968, Art. 1); for an explanation of the term see dictionary on socialist state , ed. from the Academy for Political Science and Law of the GDR and the Institute for Political and Legal Theory at the Academy of Sciences and Humanities of the GDR, Dietz Verlag, Berlin (East) 1974, keyword “State form”, pp. 335–337.
  2. Bernhard Marquardt: The role and importance of ideology, integrative factors and disciplining practices in the state and society of the GDR. Vol. 3. In: Materials of the Enquete Commission "Processing the history and consequences of the SED dictatorship" . 9 volumes in 18 part volumes, published by the German Bundestag, Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden 1995, ISBN 3-7890-4006-1 , pp. 379, 730 , 1541; Günther Heydemann: The internal politics of the GDR , Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2003, ISBN 3-486-55770-X , p. 57.
  3. Officially, the State Council of the GDR was the collective head of state . In terms of protocol, however, the Chairman of the Council of State was regarded as the head of state.
  4. According to Article 75a of the Constitution of the GDR , which was newly inserted on April 5, 1990 , “until a law on the position, tasks and powers of the President of the Republic was passed and until his election [...] the President of the People's Chamber took the powers of the Chairman of the Council of State of the German Democratic Republic. "
  5. a b c d Statistical Yearbook of the GDR. Staatsverlag der DDR, 1st edition, June 1989, ISBN 3-329-00457-6 , pp. 8 and 17.
  6. See also Peter Lerche : The Accession of the GDR - Requirements, Realization, Effects . In: Josef Isensee , Paul Kirchhof (ed.): Handbook of the constitutional law of the Federal Republic of Germany . Vol. VIII. Heidelberg 1995, § 194 Rn. 45, 47; see also Hans Hugo Klein in: Handbuch des Staatsrechts , Vol. VIII, § 198, p. 560 f.
  7. Wolfgang Schäuble : The Unification Treaty - completion of the unity of Germany in freedom . In: ZG , 1990, p. 289 (294).
  9. See for example Martin Jander, Matthias Manrique, Barbara Strenge: GDR opposition in the 70s and 80s. A contribution to history and the state of research . In: Klaus Schroeder (Ed.): History and Transformation of the SED State: Contributions and Analyzes . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-05-002638-3 , p. 233 ; see Werner Rossade: Society and Culture in the End Times of Real Socialism . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-428-09013-6 , p. 26 ff.
  10. ^ Arnd Bauerkämper : Rural society in the communist dictatorship. Forced modernization and tradition in Brandenburg after 1945. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2002; Ralph Jessen : Academic Elite and Communist Dictatorship , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1999; Bernd Faulenbach : Experience of dictatorship and democratic culture of remembrance in Germany . In: Annette Kaminsky (Ed.): Places of Remembrance. Memorial signs, memorials and museums on the dictatorship in the Soviet occupation zone and GDR. Ch. Links, Berlin 2007, p. 18; Stefan Wolle : Lancelot and the dragon. Scandal and public in the closed society of the GDR using the example of the expatriation of the songwriter Wolf Biermann . In: Martin Sabrow (Ed.): Scandal and dictatorship. Forms of public outrage in the Nazi state and in the GDR. Wallstein, Göttingen 2004, p. 217; Hubertus Knabe : The fine weapons of the dictatorship. Non-criminal forms of political persecution in the GDR . In: Heiner Timmermann (Ed.): The GDR - Remembrance of a fallen state . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, p. 191.
  11. Cf. on this myth: "The GDR was a peace state" , Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung .
  12. See e.g. B. Erich Loest : Nikolaikirche , DTV, Munich, 12th edition, 2012, ISBN 978-3-423-12448-5 .
  13. Population development in Germany from 1950 - population figures in West and East Germany - data from the Federal Statistical Office , accessed on February 20, 2020.
  14. a b Cf. Eric Allina: "New People" for Mozambique. Expectations and reality of contract work in the GDR in the 1980s , in: Arbeit - Movement - History , Issue III / 2016, pp. 65–84.
  15. Ehrhart Neubert: History of the Opposition in the GDR 1949–1989 (Research on GDR Society), Ch. Links, Berlin 1998, p. 118 f .; Markus Anhalt: Breaking the power of the churches. The participation of the state security in the enforcement of the youth consecration in the GDR (=  analyzes and documents - Scientific series of the Federal Commissioner , Volume 45), Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2016, pp. 15 ff., 43, 61.
  16. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk : The 101 most important questions - GDR. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 112; Ehrhart Neubert: History of the opposition in the GDR 1949–1989 (research on GDR society), Ch. Links, Berlin 1998, p. 118 f.
  17. Matthias Kitsche: The Story of a National Day: October 7 in East Germany from 1950 to 1989. University of Cologne, 1990, p. 15.
  18. Ehrhart Neubert: History of the Opposition in the GDR 1949–1989 (Research on GDR Society), Ch. Links, Berlin 1998, p. 119.
  19. ^ Matthias Judt (ed.): GDR history in documents: resolutions, reports, internal materials and everyday testimonies . Ch. Links, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-86284-273-5 , p. 374.
  20. ^ Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung: Free churches in the former GDR
  21. Holger Kremser in: Peter Häberle (Hrsg.): Yearbook of the public law of the present . New series, vol. 40, p. 514.
  22. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. History and structures of the GDR. Munich 1998, p. 474.
  23. Wolfgang Benz : Denied, but not to be overlooked. Jüdische Allgemeine , November 23, 2015, accessed February 25, 2021 .
  24. Jens Hacker: The legal status of Germany from the perspective of the GDR (=  treatises on Eastern law , vol. 13), Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1974, p. 67 ff .; Erica Burgauer: Between memory and repression - Jews in Germany after 1945. Reinbek 1993, p. 189.
  25. DFG project In the shadow of scientism. To deal with heterodox knowledge, experiences and practices in the GDR .
  26. Martin Schneider, Andreas Anton : Political Ideology vs. Parapsychological Research. On the tension between Marxism-Leninism and parapsychology using the example of the GDR and the USSR. In: Zeitschrift für Anomalistik (14) 2014, pp. 159–188, full text (PDF) .
  27. Andreas Anton: "The UFOs, they didn't avoid socialism!" The UFO topic in the GDR. In: Journal for UFO research (42) 2021, pp. 48–61.
  28. Weleda in the land of plastics and elastics. In: . April 4, 2009, accessed November 2, 2015 .
  29. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung: Myth: "The churches were integrated into the system of the SED dictatorship"
  30. Declaration by the government of the USSR on the granting of sovereignty to the German Democratic Republic of March 25, 1954 ( Memento of June 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), from: Ingo von Münch, Documents des divided Germany , p. 329 ff.
  31. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler: German history of society. Vol. 5: Federal Republic and GDR 1949–1990 . CH Beck, Munich 2008, p. XV , 342, 425, quotation on p. 23 ; similar to Henning Köhler , Germany on the way to itself. A story of the century. Hohenheim-Verlag, Stuttgart 2002, p. 486 ff .; Wichard Woyke (Ed.): Handwortbuch Internationale Politik , 11th edition, UTB, Opladen 2008, p. 64.
  32. Arsenij Roginskij, Jörg Rudolph, Frank Drauschke and Anne Kaminksy (eds.): "Shot in Moscow ...". The German victims of Stalinism in the Moscow Donskoye cemetery . Metropol, Berlin 2005.
  33. Hermann Weber: The GDR 1945–1990 (=  Oldenbourg outline of history. Volume 20). 5th edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2012, pp. 30, 39, 48; Manfred Hagen : GDR: June '53. The first popular uprising in Stalinism. Steiner, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-515-06007-3 , p. 22 f.
  34. ^ Dierk Hoffmann, Karl-Heinz Schmidt and Peter Skyba (eds.): The GDR before the Wall was built. Documents on the history of the other German state 1949–1961 . Piper, Munich and Zurich 1993, pp. 233-236.
  35. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, p. 145 (original edition 1998).
  36. Hermann Weber: The GDR 1945–1990 (=  Oldenbourg outline of history. Volume 20). 5th edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2012, pp. 61, 144.
  37. ^ Hermann Weber: GDR. History plan 1945–1990. Completely revised and supplemented new edition, Hanover 1991, p. 100 (original edition 1976).
  38. ^ Hermann Weber: GDR. History plan 1945–1990. Completely revised and supplemented new edition, Hanover 1991, p. 98 (original edition 1976).
  39. Quoted from Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 105.
  40. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, pp. 106-108.
  41. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, p. 187 (original edition 1998).
  42. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, pp. 208-210 (original edition 1998).
  43. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, pp. 117–119; Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, p. 219 f. (Original edition 1998).
  44. ↑ In 1983 Franz Josef Strauss arranged a billion-euro loan; See one day ( Spiegel Online ): Billion syringe for the wall builder .
  45. Manfred Jäger: Culture and Politics in the GDR 1945–1990. Cologne 1995, p. 140.
  46. Quoted from Manfred Jäger: Culture and Politics in the GDR 1945–1990. Cologne 1995, p. 145.
  47. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 119.
  48. ^ Hermann Weber: GDR. History plan 1945–1990. Completely revised and supplemented new edition, Hanover 1991, p. 147 (original edition 1976).
  49. Quoted from Heinrich August Winkler : The long way to the west. Vol. 2: German history from the “Third Reich” to reunification . CH Beck, Munich 2010, p. 364.
  50. Quoted from Klaus Schroeder: Der SED-Staat. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, p. 235 (original edition 1998).
  51. Manfred Jäger: Culture and Politics in the GDR 1945–1990. Cologne 1995, pp. 165-167.
  52. Joachim Kahlert: The GDR's Energy Policy - Management of Defects Between Nuclear Power and Lignite , Bonn 1988 (PDF; 5.1 MB).
  53. Quotation in Honecker: “He means the wall” , Focus Magazin, No. 22, 1995.
  54. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, pp. 269-271.
  55. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 137.
  56. "According to the GDR, the KoKo division made a total of 41 billion currency marks available to the economy from 1967 to 1989, of which 27 billion came from the direct activities of companies and other businesses and 14 billion from payments made by the Federal Republic." (Klaus Schroeder: The SED State. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, p. 272.)
  57. Very pointed fingers . In: The mirror . No. 36 , 1991, pp. 31-35 ( online - 2 September 1991 ). See. The anger grows daily . In: The mirror . No. 50 , 1989, pp. 30-37 ( Online - Dec. 11, 1989 ).
  58. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 134.
  59. Hans-Hermann Hertle , Konrad H. Jarausch (Ed.): Risse im Bruderbund. The Honecker - Breshnew talks 1974 to 1982. Left, Berlin 2006.
  60. ^ Gerhard Werle, Klaus Marxen, Toralf Rummler, Petra Schäfter: Criminal justice and GDR injustice. Violent acts on the German-German border. De Gruyter, 2002; Reprint 2012, p. 653.
  61. See inter alia. Manfred Görtemaker: History of the Federal Republic of Germany. From the foundation to the present , 1999, p. 725.
  62. ^ Everyone in Motion: Spatial Mobility in the Federal Republic of Germany 1980–2010 (After the Boom) in the Google Book Search
  63. Birgit Wolf: Language in the GDR. A dictionary . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2000, ISBN 978-3-11-080592-5 , pp. 59 f. (Accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  64. Hedwig Richter: Mass Obedience: Practices and Functions of Elections in the German Democratic Republic , in: Ralph Jessen / Hedwig Richter (eds.): Voting for Hitler and Stalin. Elections under 20th Century Dictatorships , Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2011, pp. 103–124; Hermann Weber: The GDR 1945–1990 (=  Oldenbourg outline of history. Volume 20). 5th edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2012, p. 32.
  65. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989 . Econ & List, Munich 1999, p. 120 f.
  66. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: The 101 most important questions - GDR. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 45 f.
  67. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler: German history of society. Vol. 5: Federal Republic and GDR 1949–1990 . CH Beck, Munich 2008, pp. 95 ff. And 342 f (here the quote).
  68. ^ Arnd Bauerkämper: The social history of the GDR (=  Encyclopedia of German History , Vol. 76). Oldenbourg, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-486-57637-2 , pp. 65 f. (Accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  69. ^ Andrew I. Port: The puzzling stability of the GDR: work and everyday life in socialist Germany. Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2010, p. 341 ff.
  70. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: The 101 most important questions - GDR. CH Beck, Munich 2009 (Beck'sche series 7020), p. 92; similar to Beatrix Bouvier : The GDR - a welfare state? Social policy in the Honecker era . Bonn 2002, p. 314.
  71. Martin Sabrow: The underrated dictator . In: The mirror . No. 34 , 2012, p. 46–48 ( online - August 20, 2012 , here p. 47).
  72. ↑ For more information, Hermann Weber: Die DDR 1945–1990 , Oldenbourg, 4th, durchges. Ed., Munich 2006, pp. 35 , 97 .
  73. ^ Rainer Eppelmann , Hans-Joachim Veen, Horst Möller , Udo Margedant, Peter Maser: Lexicon of GDR Socialism. The state and social system of the German Democratic Republic. Schöningh, Paderborn 1996, p. 170.
  74. B. Musiolek / C. Wuttke (Ed.): Parties and political movements in the last year of the GDR, October 1989 to April 1990. Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-86163-004-4 .
  75. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: The 101 most important questions - GDR. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 154 f.
  76. In a constitutional commentary in 1989, for example, it was said that loyalty to the constitution had to be the top priority when exercising subjective rights. Therefore, it was important "to decisively oppose all attempts to abuse individual rights against socialism, against the purposes and principles of the Constitution." (Quoted by Sigrid Meuschel : legitimacy and party rule to paradox of stability and revolution in East Germany from 1945 to 1989.. Frankfurt am Main 1992, p. 272.)
  77. Considerations on the question of spare parts , in: Motor vehicle technology , Issue 6/1954, pp. 162–164 and Issue 9/1954, pp. 280–281.
  78. Werner Weidenfeld , Karl-Rudolf Korte (Ed.): Handbook on German Unity, 1949–1989–1999. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt a. M./New York 1999, ISBN 3-593-36240-6 , p. 561 .
  79. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Econ & List, Munich 1999, pp. 323 f., 249, 253 ff.
  80. Martin Sabrow (Ed.): Scandal and dictatorship. Forms of public outrage in the Nazi state and in the GDR , Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2004; Frank Bösch: Political scandals in Germany and Great Britain . In: The Parliament , June 2006.
  81. ^ Adolf Dresen: Der Fall Faust (1968) - The last public theater scandal in the GDR. In: Friday, November 19, 1999.
  82. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Econ & List, Munich 1999, p. 109.
  83. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Econ & List, Munich 1999, pp. 178-179.
  84. Sonja Suess: Politically Abused? Psychiatry and State Security in the GDR. Ch. Links, Berlin 1998, p. 91.
  85. Udo Grashoff : "In an attack of depression ...". Suicides in the GDR. Ch.links, Berlin 2006, p. 470.
  86. Ulrike Poppe, Rainer Eckert, Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: Opposition, resistance and resistance behavior in the GDR. State of research - baselines - problems. In this. (Ed.): Between assertion and adaptation. Forms of resistance and opposition in the GDR. Berlin 1995, p. 9 ff.
  87. ^ MfS at the German Historical Museum
  88. Mary Fulbrook, A Quite Normal Life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, p. 167 (English original edition: New Haven and London 2005).
  89. From 180,336 (in 1973) to 245,132 (1980), cf. Mary Fulbrook: A very normal life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, p. 173 (English original edition: New Haven and London 2005).
  90. Mary Fulbrook: A Quite Normal Life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, pp. 161, 178 (English original edition: New Haven / London 2005).
  91. a b Klaus Schroeder: 20 years after the fall of the wall - a prosperity balance . S. 22–27 ( Report for the New Social Market Economy Initiative ( Memento from July 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) [PDF]). 20 years after the fall of the wall - a prosperity balance ( memento from July 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  92. Peter Krewer: Business with the Class Enemy. The GDR in intra-German trade 1949–1989. Trier 2008, p. 216 ff., 299.
  93. ^ Motor vehicle technology , Issue 2/1990, pp. 46–47.
  94. ^ Karl Brinkmann: Constitutional theory . 2nd, supplemented edition, R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich / Vienna 1994, ISBN 978-3-486-78678-1 , p. 372 f. (Accessed via De Gruyter Online); see also Michael Richter : The formation of the Free State of Saxony. Peaceful Revolution, federalization, German unity 1989/90 , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-525-36900-X , pp. 40, 45 and 55; Detlef Kotsch and Harald Engler: State and State Party. The administrative reform of the SED in Brandenburg 1952–1960. In: the same and Oliver Werner (ed.): Education and establishment of the GDR districts in Brandenburg. Administration and political parties in the districts of Potsdam, Frankfurt / Oder and Cottbus 1952–1960. BWV, Berlin 2017, pp. 18–21.
  95. Dieter Schröder : "Berlin, Capital of the GDR". A case of the controversial development of international law , in: Archiv des Völkerrechts , Vol. 25, No. 4 (1987), pp. 418–459, here p. 451.
  96. Reinhold Zippelius : Brief German constitutional history: From the early Middle Ages to the present. 7., rework. Aufl., Beck'sche Reihe, CH Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-47638-4 , p. 164 .
  97. Dieter Schröder: "Berlin, Capital of the GDR". A case of the controversial development of international law , in: Archiv des Völkerrechts , Vol. 25, No. 4 (1987), pp. 418–459, here pp. 451 f., 454 ff., 458.
  98. Regulations on the tasks and working methods of the city council of Greater Berlin and its organs , decree of the Council of State of the GDR of September 7, 1961 (GBl. SDr. 341, p. 3).
  99. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. Second volume: German history from the “Third Reich” to reunification. Fifth, revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 141.
  100. ^ Hermann Weber: GDR. History plan 1945–1990. Completely revised and supplemented new edition, Hanover 1991, p. 73 (original edition 1976).
  101. See Wilfried von Bredow : The foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. An introduction. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-13618-6 , chap. 7.1.3, p. 167 .
  102. ↑ For more information, see Yeshayahu A. Jelinek: Germany and Israel 1945–1965. A neurotic relationship (= studies on contemporary history; vol. 66). Oldenbourg, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-486-56764-0 , p. 457 .
  103. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. Second volume: German history from the “Third Reich” to reunification. Fifth, revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 274.
  104. a b Germany (East) , Library of Congress Country Study, Appendix B: The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance Study on the RGW of the Library of Congress
  105. ^ Hermann Weber: GDR. History plan 1945–1990. Completely revised and supplemented new edition, Hanover 1991, p. 124 (original edition 1976).
  106. Quoted from Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. Second volume: German history from the “Third Reich” to reunification. Fifth, reviewed edition, Munich 2002, p. 228. Winkler comments there: “And the SED probably even believed what it proclaimed. She found herself still in possession of the only doctrine that knew the regular course of history and thus also its outcome. Since socialism would triumph worldwide, it had to triumph historically in that part of Germany in which capitalism still ruled. "
  107. In the constitution of 1968, Article 1: "The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state of the German nation", but in the 1974 version: "The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state of workers and peasants."
  108. ^ William R. Smyser: How Germans Negotiate. Logical Goals, Practical Solutions . United States Institute of Peace Press, Washington, DC 2003.
  109. Files on the Foreign Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany 1973 (AAPD), Vol. III, ed. on behalf of the Foreign Office by the Institute for Contemporary History, Oldenbourg, Munich 2004, Doc. 310, p. 1514 f .; for the wording of the speeches see UN General Assembly, 28th Session, Plenary Meetings, 2117th meeting , p. 9 ff.
  110. Gareth M. Winrow: The Foreign Policy of GDR in the Africa . In: Cambridge Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies , Cambridge University Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0-521-38038-6 .
  111. “When the negotiations entered a concrete phase, Erich Honecker appointed the member of his Politburo Werner Lamberz as 'Special Ambassador of the Central Committee of the SED' for the talks with Gaddafi. On December 12, 1977, Lamberz met with the Libyan revolutionary leader. First he asked Gaddafi to establish contacts with the liberation movements in Chad, Oman and Dhofar and with the Polisario in Western Sahara. At the request of Fidel Castro, the GDR had agreed to deliver weapons to the guerrilla organizations supported by Cuba. In addition, Lamberz assured, the SED leadership agreed to provide military aid to the Libyan people's state. "We are ready to train officers and NCOs, airplane and helicopter pilots, missiles and artillery specialists and reconnaissance planes in the GDR or Libya." Extensive arms deliveries are not a problem. Up until now, the GDR has delivered weapons to Ethiopia, it has supported the liberation movements of Zimbabwe, Palestine and Namibia with weapons. ”Jochen Staadt, Libysche Hilfe für die DDR , FAZ of April 21, 2008, p. 5.
  112. Joachim Nawrocki : Honeckers People's Armists in Africa and the Middle East . In: Die Zeit 08/1980.
  113. ^ Ernst Hillebrand: The GDR's commitment to Africa . In: Munich Studies on International Development , Volume 5, Frankfurt am Main / Bern / New York 1987, ISBN 978-3-8204-0077-9 .
  114. Hans-Joachim Döring: Development policy and solidarity in the GDR, presented using examples of state cooperation with Mozambique and Ethiopia and the development-related educational work of independent groups ( Memento from July 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 797 kB), Diss., TU Berlin, 2007.
  115. According to a publication by the Cologne Chamber of Commerce and Industry (“Länderschwerpunkt Vietnam 10/2003”), over 100,000 Vietnamese were in the GDR for work, training and study, with over 10,000 academics making up a significant proportion of the Vietnamese elite to this day.
  116. See also Eva-Maria, Lothar Elsner: Foreign policy and hostility in the GDR 1949–1990. Texts on political education volume 13, Rosa Luxemburg-Verein, Leipzig 1994, ISBN 3-929994-14-3 , p. 53 ff. (In the document part numerous legal texts and bilateral agreements with the sending states).
  117. Wolfgang G. Schwanitz : East Berlin Middle East Policy. Grotewohl in Iraq, Ulbricht in Egypt and Honecker in Kuwait . Web version 5-2009 (PDF; 2.4 MB)
  118. Hans-Joachim Döring: “It's about our existence”. The policy of the GDR towards the Third World using the example of Mozambique and Ethiopia , in: Research on the GDR Society , Christoph Links Verlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-86153-185-2 .
  119. Hans-Joachim Döring: Development policy and solidarity in the GDR, presented using examples of state cooperation with Mozambique and Ethiopia and the development-related educational work of independent groups ( Memento from July 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), p. 29 f. (PDF).
  120. Thomas Haury: Anti-Semitism in the GDR. Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) November 28, 2006.
  121. ^ Rüdiger Wenzke , Torsten Diedrich : The camouflaged army. History of the barracked people's police of the GDR 1952 to 1956. Ch. Links, Berlin 2003, ISBN 978-3-86153-242-2 .
  122. Book review on the by Hendrik Paul April 21, 2001 on Joachim Lapp: Ulbricht Helfer. Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 2000, ISBN 3-7637-6209-4 .
  123. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: The 101 most important questions - GDR. CH Beck, Munich 2009, question 33.
  124. a b Hans Rühle and Michael Rühle: The Warschaupakt planned the nuclear attack on Western Europe , in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of September 13, 2008, p. 9. The authors Hans and Michael Rühle (NZZ Online) are the former head of the planning staff at Bonn Ministry of Defense and the head of the planning staff of NATO's political department in Brussels.
  125. Märkische Oderzeitung , Frankfurter Stadtbote, January 9, 2008, p. 14.
  126. Reproduction of the provisions on "Chronicle of the Wall"
  127. Christoph Eisenring: Fate of an entrepreneurial family in the GDR: The walled-in life , NZZ , January 21, 2017.
  128. ^ Maria Haendcke-Hoppe: Private Sector in the GDR. Story-structure-meaning . In: FS-Analyzes 1 (1982).
  129. ^ André Steiner : Recapitalization or Socialization? The private and semi-public companies in the GDR economic reform of the sixties .
  130. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler: German history of society. Vol. 5: From the founding of the two German states to their unification in 1949–1990. CH Beck, Munich 2008, pp. 91-95.
  131. Quoted from Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 92.
  132. SED Berlin Trade Conference 1959. Berlin (East) 1959, p. 105; quoted by Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 92.
  133. Information on political education No. 312/2011, p. 47 ( PDF (PDF)).
  134. In the 1970s, the GDR was listed in the World Bank 's World Bank atlas as the tenth largest industrial country in the world, but this ranking was given up a short time later due to insurmountable methodological problems. See Commission of Inquiry on Overcoming the Consequences of the SED Dictatorship in the Process of German Unity: Balance of the GDR economy - interim balance of the construction of the East. Demands and reality of labor and social policy in the GDR - Society in the new federal states in transition . 3rd to 5th March 1997, accessed on June 23, 2019, p. 186. See also Oskar Schwarzer: Sozialistische Zentralplanwirtschaft in der SBZ / GDR. Results of a regulatory experiment (1945–1989) , in: Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte , supplement 143, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-515-07379-5 , p. 9; Eckhard Wandel , transformation problems with German reunification, in structure and dimension . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 978-3-515-07066-9 , p. 311.
  135. Monika Kaiser: 1972 - Knockout for medium-sized businesses. On the work of the SED, CDU, LDPD and NDPD for the nationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises , Berlin 1990.
  136. Uwe Hoßfeld , Tobias Kaiser and Heinz Mestrup (eds.): University in Socialism, Studies on the History of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (1945–1990) , Volume 1. Under co-workers. by Horst Neuper, Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-34505-1 , p. 380 .
  137. a b c d Gerhard Schürer, Gerhard Beil, Alexander Schalck, Ernst Höfner, Arno Donda: Analysis of the economic situation of the GDR with conclusions, template for the Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED. October 30, 1989; SAPMO-BA, DY 30 / J IV 2 / 2A / 3252 ( ; accessed on January 30, 2010).
  138. Information on political education No. 312/2011, p. 49.
  139. Cf. Klaus Krakat: Problems of the GDR industry in the last five-year planning period (1986–1989 / 90) . In: Eberhard Kuhrt (Ed.): At the end of real socialism . On behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. 1st edition. tape 2 . Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1996, ISBN 978-3-8100-1609-6 , pp. 137-172 .
  140. a b Gerhard Barkleit : Microelectronics in East Germany. SED, the state apparatus and state security in the competition of systems . Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism, Dresden 2000, ISBN 3-931648-32-X , p. 32 ff . ( PDF ).
  141. ^ Deutsche Bundesbank : The balance of payments of the former GDR from 1975 to 1989. (PDF) (No longer available online.) August 1999, p. 58 , archived from the original on August 9, 2014 ; Retrieved November 19, 2012 ( ISBN 3-933747-16-3 ).
  142. ^ Gerhard Schürer: Planning and steering the economy in the GDR . In: Eberhard Kuhrt (Ed.): At the end of real socialism . On behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. 1st edition. tape 4 . Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1999, ISBN 978-3-8100-2744-3 , pp. 74 .
  143. Gerhard Schürer: Daring and Lost. A German biography . 4. edit Edition. Frankfurter Oder Editions Buchverlag, Frankfurt (Oder) 1998, ISBN 3-930842-15-7 , p. 197 ff., 318 .
  144. ^ Deutsche Bundesbank: The balance of payments of the former GDR from 1975 to 1989. (PDF) (No longer available online.) August 1999, p. 59 , archived from the original on August 9, 2014 ; Retrieved November 19, 2012 .
  145. Armin Volze: On the foreign exchange debt of the GDR - origin, coping and consequences . In: Eberhard Kuhrt (Ed.): At the end of real socialism . On behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. 1st edition. tape 4 . Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1999, ISBN 978-3-8100-2744-3 , pp. 164 .
  146. ^ Deutsche Bundesbank: The balance of payments of the former GDR from 1975 to 1989. (PDF) (No longer available online.) August 1999, p. 36 , archived from the original on August 9, 2014 ; Retrieved November 19, 2012 .
  147. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Econ & List, Munich 1999, p. 202.
  148. Armin Volze: On the foreign exchange debt of the GDR - origin, coping and consequences . In: Eberhard Kuhrt (Ed.): At the end of real socialism . On behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. 1st edition. tape 4 . Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1999, ISBN 978-3-8100-2744-3 , pp. 151 .
  149. Hans-Werner Sinn: Cold Start - Economic Aspects of German Unification. 2nd edition, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1992, p. 9.
  150. ^ A b Peter Kirchberg: Plaste, sheet metal and planned economy , Nicolai Verlag, Berlin 2000. ISBN 3-87584-027-5 .
  151. Profit with longing . In: The mirror . No. 13 , 1966, pp. 73-74 ( Online - Mar. 21, 1966 ).
  152. Klaus Schroeder in FAZ from May 3, 2018, page 7, Bildungswelten, “Strong in opinion and poor in knowledge”.
  153. Klaus Schröder: Social Inequality The GDR was no better either . In: , October 25, 2012.
  154. Philipp Heldmann: Dominion, Economy, Anoraks. Consumption Policy in the GDR in the Sixties. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-525-35144-5 , p. 48 ff.
  155. ^ Ulrich Mählert : Brief history of the GDR. P. 135.
  156. Philipp Heldmann: Dominion, Economy, Anoraks. Consumption Policy in the GDR in the Sixties. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004, p. 287 ff.
  157. Philipp Heldmann: Dominion, Economy, Anoraks. Consumption Policy in the GDR in the Sixties. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004, pp. 292–294.
  158. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: The 101 most important questions - GDR. CH Beck, Munich 2009, pp. 68-69.
  159. Horst Groschopp : The whole person: The GDR and humanism - a contribution to German cultural history. Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2013, pp. 489-490; Thomas Kochan: Blue Strangler. This is how the GDR drank. Structure Verlag, Berlin 2011, pp. 77, 80.
  160. Walter R. Heinz, Stefan Hormuth (Ed.): Work and Justice in the East German Transformation Process. Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1997, p. 148.
  161. Christoph Gehrmann (2006): (Nah) Sprechen - (Fern) See: Communicative everyday life in the GDR. Frank & Timme GmbH, ISBN 3-86596-099-5 , p. 126 .
  162. Automotive engineering drove Trabant 601 LL. In: Motor vehicle technology 4/1967, p. 113.
  163. ^ The tasks of automobile construction after the fifth congress of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. In: Motor Vehicle Technology 11/1958, pp. 401–403.
  164. The US has concerns. In: Motor vehicle technology 3/1963, p. 114.
  165. Axel Reuther: Album of the German tram and light rail vehicles. GeraMond, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-7654-7141-0 , p. 83.
  166. Diamond models
  167. Models Mifa models
  168. Statista : Average Income in the GDR until 1989 , published by Statista Research Department, February 3, 2020.
  169. Hans-Hermann Hertle: “I don't know the comrades responsible” . In: ders., Stefan Wolle (Ed.): Back then in the GDR. C. Bertelsmann Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-570-00832-0 , p. 178 ff.
  170. Quoted from Bernd Bartholmai, Manfred Melzer, Lutz Uecker: Construction industry in the area of ​​the former GDR: possible development of the cost structure in the course of the reorganization after the economic union. Duncker & Humblot, 1991, ISBN 3-428-07178-6 .
  171. Katja Neller: GDR nostalgia: dimensions of the orientations of East Germans towards the former GDR, their causes and political connotations. Springer, 2006, ISBN 3-531-15118-5 , p. 43.
  172. Bernd Bartholmai, Manfred Melzer: Future perspectives of housing construction and housing construction financing for the area of ​​the new federal states. Duncker & Humblot, 1991, ISBN 3-428-07176-X , p. 30.
  173. a b The divided country , state center for political education Baden-Württemberg . Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  174. Tourism. Over the mountains . In: The mirror . No. 43 , 1996 ( online ).
  175. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Munich 1999, p. 323 (original edition 1998).
  176. Hans-Ulrich Wehler : German history of society - From the founding of the two German states to the unification 1949-1990. Volume 5, CH Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 3-406-52171-1 , p. 100.
  177. ^ "Grüneberg Plan" = separation of animal and plant production, see Gerhard Grüneberg .
  178. ^ Oskar Schwarzer: Socialist Centrally Planned Economy in the Soviet Zone / GDR. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-515-07379-5 , p. 154.
  179. Note: Horizontal integration = larger areas, huge stables; vertical integration = farms with their own manufacturing industry.
  180. ^ Arnd Bauerkämper : Structural change and everyday life, agriculture and rural society. In: Helga Schultz, Hans-Jürgen Wagener (ed.): The GDR in retrospect: politics, economy, society, culture. Research on GDR society. Ch. Links, Berlin 2007, ISBN 3-86153-440-1 , p. 217 ff.
  181. This included, inter alia. cheap housing, free medical care and services for children (Ulrich Mählert: Kleine Geschichte der DDR. 4th edition, Munich 2004, p. 119).
  182. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th, revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 138.
  183. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Munich 1999, p. 346 (original edition 1998).
  184. "Political considerations obviously played a subordinate role in all transactions. For example, during the Iraqi-Iranian conflict, both sides received war material. The GDR also acted as intermediaries on behalf of arms control subjugated countries. "(Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of the dictatorship everyday life and rule in East Germany from 1971 to 1989.. Munich 1999, p 341 (original edition 1998).)
  185. The total costs for research and development, including capital investments, probably amounted to 50 billion marks in the GDR. See Hans-Ulrich Wehler : German history of society - From the founding of the two German states to the unification of 1949–1990. Vol. 5. CH Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 3-406-52171-1 , p. 99.
  186. ^ Hermann Weber: GDR. History plan 1945–1990. Completely revised and supplemented new edition, Hanover 1991, p. 201 (original edition 1976).
  187. See Albrecht Ritschl: Rise and Fall of the GDR Economy - A Figure 1945–1989. In: Yearbook for Economic History 1995, Issue 2, pp. 11–46; Jeffrey Kopstein, The Politics of Economic Decline in East Germany , London 1997.
  188. Cf. Christoph Buchheim: The economic order as a barrier to overall economic growth in the GDR. In: Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 82 (1995), pp. 194–210.
  189. ^ Hans-Jürgen Wagener: On the weakness of innovation in the GDR economy. In: Johannes Bähr, Dietmar Petzina (ed.): Innovation behavior and decision-making structures. Comparative studies on economic development in divided Germany 1945–1990. Berlin 1996, pp. 21-48.
  190. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. Party, State and Society 1949–1990. Munich 2000, p. 510 f. (Original edition 1998).
  191. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Munich 1999, p. 333 (original edition 1998).
  192. André Steiner: From plan to plan. An economic history of the GDR. Aufbau Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-7466-8153-5 , p. 224 f.
  193. "The money supply is expanded disproportionately by the enormous expansion of the credit burden on the economy due to concealed household debt and ineffective foreign trade." - Autorenkollektiv the section Economics of the Humboldt University of Berlin, money, credit and finance in economic reform . In: Finanzwirtschaft, 1–2 / 1990, p. 11 f., Quoted in Dietrich Miller: On the value and cost theory of real socialism and its practice in the economy of the GDR . In: Germany Archive , 3/2011 ( ).
  194. ^ Ie "The Unity of Economic and Social Policy" - Werner Krolikowski on October 24, 1980; quoted from Malycha: Unvarnished truths . In: VfZ , 59 (2011), issue 2, p. 294.
  195. ^ Jörg Roessler: Company social policy. In: East German Economy in Transition 1970–2000. Bonn 2003, p. 22 ff.
  196. "Through the transfer of product-related taxes (PA) and production fund taxes (PFA) to the state budget as well as imposed net profit transfers, most of the surplus product generated in the economic units was concentrated in the state budget as so-called 'centralized net income'. The individual responsibility and financial strength of the economic units remained correspondingly limited. ”- Dietrich Miller: On the value and cost theory of real socialism and its practice in the economy of the GDR . In: Germany Archive , 3/2011 ( ).
  197. André Steiner: From plan to plan. An economic history of the GDR. Munich 2004, ISBN 3-421-05590-4 ; Bonn 2007, p. 204.
  198. Gerlinde Sinn, Hans-Werner Sinn: Cold start . Tübingen 1992, ISBN 978-3-16-145869-9 ; dtv edition 1993, p. 276.
  199. André Steiner: From plan to plan. An economic history of the GDR. Munich 2004, ISBN 3-421-05590-4 ; Bonn 2007, p. 179.
  200. Wolfram Bickerich, Dieter Kampe, Steffen Uhlmann: "It breaks my heart." In: Der Spiegel . No. 37 , 1991, pp. 88-104 ( online - Spiegel conversation with the former GDR economic leader Günter Mittag about his politics and his mistakes).
  201. Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: The 101 most important questions - GDR , CH Beck, 2009, p. 69 f.
  202. Secret classified information b5 - 1373/88. In: Oskar Schwarzer: Socialist Central Planned Economy in the Soviet Zone / GDR. 1999, ISBN 3-515-07379-5 , p. 308 ff.
  203. Friedrich von Heyl: The domestic German trade in iron and steel 1945–1972. German-German relations during the Cold War (=  Münster historical research , vol. 12). Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 1997, pp. 5, 17, 55, 242. Peter Krewer: Business with the class enemy . Trier 2008, pp. 85, 301. Klaus Schroeder with the assistance of Steffen Alisch: Der SED-Staat. Party, State and Society 1949–1989 . Munich 1998, pp. 272, 430 ff.
  204. Peter Krewer: Business with the Class Enemy , pp. 93 f., 209 f., 299.
  205. ^ Peter Krewer: Business with the Class Enemy , pp. 108-109.
  206. ^ Friedrich von Heyl: Der Innerdeutsche Handel mit Eisen und Stahl , p. 243.
  207. “In the end, she had no choice but to quickly swap green coffee with Ethiopia, Angola, the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia, India and Vietnam for finished products.” (Stefan Wolle: Die ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Munich 1999, p. 330 (original edition 1998).)
  208. Article 18, Paragraph 3 of the GDR Constitution of April 9, 1968 i. d. F. of October 7, 1974
  209. boheme and dictatorship in the gdr - groups, conflicts, quarters, 1970 to 1989. An exhibition by the German Historical Museum in Berlin, September 4, 1997 to December 16, 1997 ( online ).
  210. Michael Pilz: Help! Besserwessi, where are you? , Welt Online , April 3, 2014.
  211. Quoted from Manfred Jäger: Culture and Politics in the GDR 1945–1990. Cologne 1995, p. 41.
  212. Manfred Jäger: Culture and Politics in the GDR 1945–1990. Cologne 1995, p. 87 ff.
  213. See, for example, the Erfurt Martin Luther Award 1983 .
  214. ^ Statistical yearbook of the GDR. Staatsverlag der DDR, 1st edition, June 1989, ISBN 3-329-00457-6 , pp. 318–328.
  215. In the law on the participation of young people in the German Democratic Republic in shaping the developed socialist society and on their all-round promotion in the German Democratic Republic (youth law of the GDR) of January 28, 1974 , inter alia. stated: “All young people should be characterized by a socialist work ethic and solid knowledge and ability, should call their own high moral and cultural values ​​and actively participate in social and political life, in the management of the state and society. Their striving to acquire Marxism-Leninism, the scientific worldview of the working class, and to deal aggressively with the imperialist ideology is promoted on all sides. "
  216. boheme and dictatorship in the gdr - groups, conflicts, quarters, 1970 to 1989. An exhibition by the German Historical Museum in Berlin, September 4, 1997 to December 16, 1997 ( online ).
  217. Richard Stöss : Right-wing extremism in transition. Friedrich Ebert Foundation , Forum Berlin, 2010, p. 107; Klaus Kinner , Rolf Richter (ed.): Right-wing extremism and anti-fascism. Karl Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2000, p. 68 f.
  218. ^ Oskar Niedermayer , Klaus von Beyme (ed.): Political culture in East and West Germany. VS Verlag, 1996, p. 135.
  219. ^ Roman Rutkowski: The charisma of the grave - The scene in the former GDR. 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4 , p. 59.
  220. ^ Norbert Madloch: Right-wing extremism in Germany after the end of Hitler's fascism ( Memento from October 7, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) In: Klaus Kinner, Rolf Richter: Right-wing extremism and antifascism. Historical and current dimension. Karl Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2000, pp. 57-215, 73; Richard Stöss: Right-wing extremism in transition. Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Forum Berlin, 2010, p. 107 f.
  221. ^ Statistical yearbook of the GDR. Staatsverlag der DDR, 1st edition, June 1989, ISBN 3-329-00457-6 , p. 304.
  222. ^ Statistical yearbook of the GDR. Staatsverlag der DDR, 1st edition, June 1989, ISBN 3-329-00457-6 , p. 306.
  223. ^ Statistical yearbook of the GDR. Staatsverlag der DDR, 1st edition, June 1989, ISBN 3-329-00457-6 , p. 312 f.
  224. ^ School law of the GDR from 1959
  225. Cf. 7th implementing provision for the law on the development of the school system in the GDR of April 30, 1964; on this Harald Ermisch: Minority protection in the Basic Law? Lit Verlag, Münster 2000, p. 72 .
  226. Kai Maaz: Without qualifications in the FRG and GDR: Entry into the profession and the first phase of the employment biography of unskilled workers in the 1980s . (PDF; 514 kB) Independent junior research group, Working Paper 3/2002. Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin 2002.
  227. Kai Maaz: Without qualifications in the FRG and GDR: Entry into the profession and the first phase of the employment biography of unskilled workers in the 1980s . (PDF; 514 kB) 2002, Fig. P. 9 (from SOLGA 2002).
  228. Arnd Krüger , Paul Kunath: The Development of Sports Science in the Soviet Zone and the GDR , in: Wolfgang Buss, Christian Becker and others. (Ed.): Sport in the Soviet Zone and the early GDR. Genesis - structures - conditions. Hofmann, Schorndorf 2001, pp. 351-366.
  229. ^ Statistical yearbook of the GDR. Staatsverlag der DDR, 1st edition, June 1989, ISBN 3-329-00457-6 , p. 330 f.
  230. ^ Statistical yearbook of the GDR. Staatsverlag der DDR, 1st edition, June 1989, ISBN 3-329-00457-6 , p. 332 f.
  231. ^ For an overview, see Günther Heydemann , Die Innenpolitik der DDR , Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, pp. 61–68; Hermann Weber: The GDR 1945–1990. Oldenbourg, Munich 2006, pp. 139–148.
  232. ^ Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship. Inside the GDR 1949-1989 , Oxford University Press, 1995; Ralph Jessen, party, state and “ally”. The mechanisms of rule of the SED dictatorship , in: Matthias Judt (Hrsg.): GDR history in documents. Resolutions, reports, internal materials and everyday testimonies , Ch. Links, Berlin 1997, pp. 27–43; Stefan Wolle, The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989 , Bonn 1998; Konrad H. Jarausch, Real Socialism as a Welfare Dictatorship. On the conceptual classification of the GDR , in: From politics and contemporary history (supplement to the weekly newspaper “Das Parlament”) B 20/1998, pp. 33–46; Hubertus Knabe, the perpetrators are among us. On the glossing over of the SED dictatorship , Propylaea, Berlin 2007; Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: The 101 most important questions - GDR. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 48 f.
  233. ^ GDR - Myth and Reality on the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung website, accessed on May 19, 2010.
  234. Birgit Wolf: socialist democracy. In: Language in the GDR. A dictionary. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2000, ISBN 3-11-016427-2 , p. 208 .
  235. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. History and structures of the GDR. Bavarian State Center for Political Education, Munich 1998, p. 643.
  236. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler: Deutsche Gesellschaftgeschichte, Vol. 5: Federal Republic of Germany and GDR 1949–1990. CH Beck, Munich 2008, p. 23 .
  237. ^ Karl Dietrich Bracher: The totalitarian experience. History as experience. Reflections on the 20th Century. DVA, Stuttgart 2001, pp. 123, 145 u. Ö.
  238. Eckhard Jesse: Was the GDR totalitarian? In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 40 (1994), pp. 12–23.
  239. ^ Peter Christian Ludz: Party elite in transition. Functional structure, social structure and ideology of the SED leadership. An empirical-systematic investigation. West German publishing house, Cologne / Opladen 1968.
  240. Stefan Wolle: The ideal world of dictatorship. Everyday life and rule in the GDR 1971–1989. Munich 1999, pp. 551-553 (original edition 1998).
  241. Wolfgang Wippermann: Demonization through comparison. GDR and Third Reich. Rotbuch, Berlin 2009; see also ders., Dictatorship of the People - What was the GDR? , in: Learning from History , October 23, 2013.
  242. Martin Sabrow: Remembering the GDR. In: Ders. (Ed.): Memories of the GDR. Munich 2009, p. 15.
  243. Detlef Pollack , Zones of Autonomy , in: Was the GDR a left-wing totalitarian dictatorship and a "Soviet satrapy"? ( Memento of July 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), , August 29, 2008, accessed on May 19, 2010.
  244. ^ Günter Gaus : Niche society. In: Ders. Where Germany is located. A location determination. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1983, pp. 156-233.
  245. Mary Fulbrook: A Quite Normal Life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, pp. 251, 309, 314 (English original edition: New Haven and London 2005).
  246. Konrad H. Jarausch: Real Socialism as a welfare dictatorship. On the conceptual classification of the GDR. In: From Politics and Contemporary History B20 (1998), pp. 33–46; ders., welfare dictatorship on docupedia , accessed on May 18, 2010.
  247. Erwin Sellering in conversation: "GDR was not a totally unjust state" . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung , March 22, 2009; accessed on May 20, 2010. Armin Fuhrer: Political criminal justice: The GDR was an injustice state . In: Focus Online , March 24, 2009; Retrieved on May 20, 2010. Christiane Kohl: Debate about the GDR past - “A smooth injustice state” . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , April 6, 2009; Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  248. Gesine Schwan : In the trap of totalitarianism . In: Die Zeit , No. 27/2009. More on this Sebastian Klinge: 1989 and us. History politics and culture of remembrance after the fall of the wall . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2015, pp. 132-136 .
  249. Gesine Schwan: Dictatorship: In the case of totalitarianism . In: Die Zeit , No. 27/2009.
  250. ^ Loyalty conflicts: a book that should be translated: The study by the Frenchwoman Sonia Combe about the GDR intellectuals

Coordinates: 52 ° 3 '  N , 12 ° 23'  E