Berlin School of Economics

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The Berlin School of Economics (HfÖ) was an economic teaching and research institution in the higher education system of the GDR . It existed from 1950 to 1991 at Treskowallee 8 in Berlin-Karlshorst and was the largest such facility in the GDR. In 1972 it was named Bruno Leuschner University of Economics .

After reunification , the University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Economics was founded in its place .


HfÖ main building

The University of Economics to Berlin was on October 4, 1950 decision of the government of the GDR (then Otto Grotewohl ) and University of planned economy founded. Its founding date thus falls within the period of the first GDR two-year plan in 1949/1950.

It was mainly intended to train young people from the working class to become skilled workers in the planned economy . At the same time, a research center was to be created to deal with theoretical problems of planning and economic development.

The HfÖ began its work with 20 employees and 185 students under the direction of Eva Altmann in a converted secondary school and a lyceum for girls. At the same time work began on building the first boarding schools and the cafeteria. In addition to Eva Altmann, the founders included Albert Cohen, Jutta Dubinski , Rudolf Lindau , Ernst Hoffmann , Emil Miltenberger , Hans Mottek , Hermann Scheler , Hans Schaul , Paul Strassenberger and Bruno Warnke. The scientific organization basis was the statute adopted by the GDR Council of Ministers in November 1950, which confirmed the structure of the institute (later faculties and, after the 3rd university reform, sections).

  • Business administration
  • Financial planning
  • History of the Labor Movement
  • Economic geography
  • philosophy
  • Political Economy
  • Accounting
  • Jurisprudence
  • statistics
  • technology
  • Economic planning including industrial, trade, transportation and agricultural planning
  • Economic history

Experiences of the Institute for Economics GW Plekhanov , Moscow , were taken into account. In the early years, Soviet professors gave series of lectures on national economic planning and financial accounting. A special library for international economic literature was set up. The faculty of the university was supported by other economic departments of the universities of the GDR. State institutions and companies temporarily assigned senior staff for teaching and research tasks. In 1956 and 1958 the merger with the University of Finance , Potsdam-Babelsberg, founded in 1953 , under the rectorate of Alfred Lemmnitz , and the University of Foreign Trade , Berlin-Staaken, founded in 1954 , under the rectorate of Erich Freund . The concentration of economic education and research through the merger of the three universities to form the University of Economics should increase efficiency in teaching and research. In the following decades the University of Economics became the most important economic institution in the higher education system of the GDR and developed in the direction of a business university. In 1972 it was named Bruno Leuschner University of Economics . In 1988 the technical school for foreign trade was incorporated.

Scientific structure

Sections - Scientific Areas - Institutes - Departments

Eva Altmann

After several changes at the beginning of 1989, the academic structure of the HfÖ was characterized by the following structural units:

  • Socialist Economics Section with the scientific areas of Economics Planning , Labor Economics , Territorial Economics , Materials Management, Price Economics, Consumption and Standard of Living, Basic Fund Economics and Science Economics .
  • Socialist business administration section with the scientific areas of operational planning and economic accounting, cost accounting and accounting, and technology.
  • Business informatics section with the scientific fields of operational research, accounting and statistics, data processing and management of the socialist economy.
  • Foreign trade section with the academic fields of foreign trade organization and market work, foreign trade relations, international economic relations and the Institute for Economics of Developing Countries
  • Section Marxism-Leninism with the scientific fields Political Economy of Capitalism / History of Political Economy, Political Economy of Socialism, Philosophy, Scientific Socialism, Economic History
  • Foreign trade institute, professionals with scientific and technical training were led to an economics university degree.
  • Institute for commercial law with the academic fields of commercial law and international commercial law.
  • Institute for Socialist Economic Management, Light Industry and Foreign Trade as branch-related training, especially for managers.
  • Military Economics Department
  • Institute for Foreign Languages ​​with lectureships in Russian, English, Romance languages ​​and German for foreigners.
  • Student Sports Department
  • University Education Department
HfÖ - in the data center (1962)

Teaching and research were supported by an organization and computer center and a library. In the mid-1950s, training in the use of computer technology in business administration began . The library had a holdings of around 250,000 volumes, mainly economic literature and two special collections of insurance and economic history literature. As part of the library and information system of the GDR, it was at the same time the “central specialist library for economics” and the “central office for economic information and documentation”.

Scientific and social advice

The Scientific Council was the highest scientific body to advise on fundamental problems in scientific development, the content of research and teaching, the development of interdisciplinary work at the university and important scientific results (e.g. textbooks). Members were university lecturers, academic staff, representatives of social organizations and students. He was solely authorized to award academic degrees (Dr. rer. Oec., Dr. rer. Oec. Habil., Dr. sc. Oec., Dr. jur., Dr. hc). The Rector was also elected in the Scientific Council. At the section level there were councils of the sections.

The social council served to deepen the cooperation between the university, business practice and municipal institutions. Its members were economic functionaries from state-owned companies and economic management institutions, employees of other scientific institutions as well as university lecturers and employees of the HfÖ.

Change of profile as a result of the political change

HfÖ - in the lecture hall

As a result of the events in 1989/90, the HfÖ tried to maintain itself and the scientific structure was reorganized. The university structures, which are oriented towards the planned economy, should be adapted to market economy requirements. In practice, however, this restructuring has only had limited effect. Instead of the sections and scientific areas , departments were created , subdivided according to institutes , with greater scientific independence:

  • Department of Economics with the institutes of Economics and Economic Policy, Money, Credit and Public Finance, Consumption Theory and Social Policy, Spatial Planning and Environmental Economics as well as Demography and Labor Sciences
  • Department of Business Administration / Management with the institutes General Business Administration, Financing, Taxation and Auditing, Materials Management and Logistics, Corporate Planning, Innovation Management, Corporate Organization and Production Management.
  • Department of Information Systems with the Institutes of Computer Science and Quantitative Methods / Statistics / Mathematics / Operations Research.
  • Department of Foreign Trade with the Institutes of Sales Management and International Marketing, Foreign Trade / World Economy and Economics of Developing Countries.
  • Department of General Social Sciences with the Institutes of General Economic Theory, Economic Philosophy and Political Science, Economic History, Security and Disarmament Economics
  • Institute for Economic and Commercial Law

Initial and continuing education

Subjects (courses of study)

At the HfÖ, about 12,000 direct students and 8,000 distance learning students were graduated in a course of 8 to 10 semesters, including graduates from the University of Finance and the University of Foreign Trade. In addition, working people completed a university degree in special courses. With the development of the scientific profile, the disciplines also changed.

In the 1980s these were socialist economics, labor economics, economics of social-cultural areas, business informatics, accounting and statistics, business administration / industrial finance of the combines and companies, foreign trade, political economy, economic history and military economics.

Within the subject areas, specializations were possible based on the scientific areas. An internship lasting several weeks was completed during the course. The graduates of the HfÖ were mainly active in the socialist economy, in economic management institutions, in diplomatic missions of the GDR, in academic institutions and also in international organizations.

further education

Further training courses with more than 13,000 participants were held for managers and junior managers in the field of foreign trade (including managing directors for joint ventures and employees of technical-commercial offices abroad) as well as the textile, furniture, shoe, paper and glass industries. Senior staff and experts from government bodies and the economy were included as teachers.

The further education of the HfÖ also included a postgraduate course over 2 to 4 semesters with more than 600 participants, among other things in the areas of accounting and statistics, labor economics, territorial economics and territorial planning, social policy and housing industry, foreign trade, international business law, legal issues of plant export and military economics as well Courses in different subject areas with more than 8000 participants.


At the HfÖ around 150 monographs and textbooks, textbook series and reference works, among others on "Political Economy", "Economic History", "Economic Planning", "Territorial Planning", "Labor Economics", "Business Administration", "Cost Accounting", "Foreign Trade" Business Administration of Foreign Trade "," Business and Foreign Trade Law "," International Economic Relations "," Materials Management "," Business Mathematics "," Operations Research "," Mathematics for Economists "," Needs, Standard of Living and Way of Life ", an" Economic Lexicon "( 3 volumes), a multilingual “Economic Dictionary of Foreign Trade” and the series “Foreign Trade Effective”.

Furthermore, research reports and studies for the State Planning Commission , for ministries and companies on science and technology, international economic relations and regional economic integration, methods of information processing, resource economy, work organization, demographic development and social policy as well as growth, effectiveness and stability were prepared. In the case of publications, studies and advice on the economics of developing countries, the HfÖ was the only one in charge of the economic institutions of the GDR. There were around 1,800 doctorates and 300 habilitations.

The research results were published in the HfÖ's publication organs such as "Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift", "Forschungsinformationen", "Economic Quarterly" and the "Bibliographie Hochschulschriften".

The research results were expressed in numerous national and international scientific conferences. A selection of the most important are: Problems of perspective planning (1960), tasks in international specialization and cooperation in production (1975), the unity of technology and economics in the scientific and technical training of economists (1975), cost theory and the perfection of cost planning , Cost accounting and cost analysis (1980), planning and measurement of economic effectiveness (1981), the development of foreign trade theory under the conditions of the 1980s (1982), mathematics and cybernetics in economics (carried out several times and directed by the HfÖ itself in 1980).

Significance for economy and public life in Berlin

There were agreements and contracts with numerous combines , companies and public institutions, etc. a. with the transformer factory "Karl Liebknecht" (TRO), the cable factory Oberspree (KWO), the data processing combine, the furniture combine and the city council of Berlin on cooperation in research as well as training and further education. Studies and research reports, mostly by student research groups, on factors that determine the effectiveness of industrial robots, on the methodology of complex operational analysis, on the recording and processing of secondary raw materials and on increasing the effectiveness of exports by improving the structure of the goods, were prepared.

In around 100 “Karlshorster University Talks”, an exchange of views with representatives from companies and public institutions on problems of economic and social development took place.

As part of the “Social Science Schools Society Berlin”, scientists from the HfÖ gave around 15 to 20 lectures on economic, philosophical and economic-historical topics to 8th to 12th grade students per academic year.

International Relations

These included the training of around 1000 foreign students from around 50 countries, mostly from the Third World and the socialist states, as well as around 200 doctorates and post-doctoral degrees from foreign applicants. There were also contracts and working agreements with economic universities, colleges and institutes etc. a. in Budapest, Hanoi, Leningrad, Maribor , Moscow, Novosibirsk, Prague and Warsaw, the University of Antwerp and the Vienna University of Economics , for the regulation of guest lectures, joint work on research projects and publications as well as student exchanges.

Since the 1960s, but especially the 1970s, there have been stronger working relationships with institutions in the third world, e. B. the activity of visiting professors at the "Ghokale Institute for Politics and Economics" in Puna , India, and at the "Institute for National Planning" in Cairo, expansion of advisory, teaching and lecturing activities , among others in Angola , Algeria , Guinea , Mozambique , Ethiopia , Cuba , Zimbabwe and Vietnam as well as the use in the context of development aid on behalf of the government of the GDR, among others in Nicaragua , Tanzania , South Yemen . Working relationships also developed with Japanese universities. With the fall of the Hallstein Doctrine , the activities of academics at the university expanded to include specialized UN organizations ( UNCTAD , UNIDO , UNESCO , ILO ) and UN programs and projects.

In addition, scientists from the university were at international institutes, e.g. B. at the " International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis " in Laxenburg or at the "International Institute for Economic Problems of the Socialist World System" in Moscow or were members of such institutes, such as B. the " International Institute of Public Finance ", the " International Statistical Institute " and the "International Society for Research in the Field of Stock Economics". International summer courses were held over three decades, and training courses on industrial planning on behalf of UNIDO over two decades. International conferences on behalf of UNCTAD and UNIDO were organized. This cooperation was supplemented by exchanges of holidaymakers and international work camps for students and employees as part of the diverse international relations of the union and the youth organization.

Culture and Social

HfÖ - Aristotelessteig student residence hall

For the social, economic and cultural support of the students and employees, a. Boarding school for students, cafeteria, baby home and kindergarten, company outpatient clinic, student club, sewing room and cosmetic salon, a cottage settlement and annual children's camps as well as a university bookshop are available. There was the university sports association “Wissenschaft Karlshorst” with 13 sections as well as a university culture ensemble and a student cabaret.

Settlement and dissolution

After the GDR joined the Federal Republic of Germany, the HfÖ was classified as an institution that did not fit into the academic system and was wound up as an institution that did not conform to the system politically. It was dissolved on October 1, 1991. The University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Economics was founded in its place . Most of the former employees, including around 70 professors, were laid off after around 30 had previously been prematurely retired. An individual evaluation of the university teachers did not take place.


  • Willy Meyer 1954–1956 University of Foreign Trade
  • Erich Freund 1956–1958 University of Foreign Trade
  • Werner Kalweit 1953–1955 University of Finance
  • Alfred Lemmnitz 1955–1956 University of Finance


  • Scientific journal of the HfÖ, issue 4/1975, special issue 1950/1980 (anniversary edition), issue 3/1985
  • University leader of the HfÖ, 1988
  • Contributions to the history of the University of Economics "Bruno Leuschner" Editor: University of Economics "Bruno Leuschner", Berlin, 1989 (Commission for History and Tradition)
  • Structure of the departments: Examination Office of the University of Economics, October 1990

Web links

Commons : Hochschule für Ökonomie Berlin  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Processing of a »management training facility«
  2. a b c d only in direct studies