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A combine ( Latin combinatus 'united', from Russian Комбинат ), sometimes also called a large combine, is an amalgamation of industrial companies that work closely together in terms of production to form a large company in socialist states. The combine in socialist states was the counterpart to the corporation in capitalist states.

Combination term in the GDR

In the central administrative economy of the GDR , a combine was a corporation-like , i.e. horizontally and vertically integrated group of state- owned enterprises (VEB) with a similar production profile. Forerunners were the associations of state-owned enterprises (VVB) since 1948 . In several centralization spurts from the end of the 1960s, the VVB structures were transferred to Kombinate.

Name plate of a plow from the VEB Landmaschinenbau "Rotes Banner" Döbeln in the combine progress agricultural machinery

Production, research, development and sales of one branch were brought together in the combine. Their structure should serve a greater rationalization and an improved, centralized control of the production processes. The combine was managed from a parent company, which was mostly the largest VEB in the combine. Within the system of the GDR economy, every combine had the plan to also produce consumer goods for the needs of the population; the target was at least 5% of its total production. The heads of the combines were accountable for fulfilling the state plan requirements .

School combinations existed in the GDR around the beginning of the 1960s . These were located in rural areas and represented larger, centralized schools in the form of a polytechnic high school as the successor to smaller village schools. The pupils were taken to school every day by public transport or some of them stayed overnight in an attached boarding school during the school week.

In parlance in the GDR , the word combine was also used for company associations in socialist countries .

Combine management

Administration building of the combine industrial glass Ilmenau

At the head of the combine was a General Director (GD), who was often also the director of the parent company. The combine management was formed by further deputy general directors, specialist directors and the heads of the company party organizations and company union leaderships . General directors of the important combines were high nomenclature cadres , that is, their appointment had to be confirmed beforehand by the Central Committee of the SED . The politicized structure of the East German planned economy meant that the general directors were predominantly SED cadres. In the hierarchy of the GDR economy, they were formally directly subordinate to the responsible minister and the responsible department in the Central Committee of the SED, and in the case of district-managed combines, to the corresponding offices at district level. Important decisions were made directly by the Central Committee secretary for economic issues (from the mid-1960s this was Günter Mittag ). Within the combine, the general director, as the head of individual responsibility, had considerable rights of disposal (e.g. to make his own investment decisions). Among other things, he managed and controlled the directors of the individual VEB.

Types of combines

There were around 167 centrally managed combines and around 90 district-managed industrial combines, which were set up as a kind of "collection point" for smaller "medium-sized" companies, especially after the last wave of nationalization in 1972.

In Kombinat Fernmeldebau of Deutsche Post , the telecommunications building authorities and other Baueinrichtungen Deutsche Post were summarized. This combine was part of a state institution, i.e. an authority.

Structure example

In total, the Ilmenau Glass Combine had around 115 operating parts, which were organized in 18 larger VEBs. The total number of employees in all plants was around 13,000.

List of important combines in the GDR

A distinction should be made between the designations that after the early formations of the combine, the name of the combine was mentioned first and the company (and, if applicable, other parts of the company) added; this occasionally led to extremely long names. Before the end of the GDR, the company was first named and added to which combine it belonged or which company it was a parent company.

For example:

Example of a district-managed combine

  • Kombinat wholesale goods for daily needs Karl-Marx-Stadt - formed in the early 80s from several wholesale companies (GHG)

Service combines

Service combines such as the VEB service combine in Berlin were not combines in the sense of the above definition, but independent district or district-managed companies that provided a variety of services for the population. Therefore, they were also referred to as combines. They were founded in the 1950s and increasingly in the 1970s. Among other things, they operated numerous complex acceptance points for their services.

Dissolution of the combines


  • Reiner Breuer: On the process of the formation of a combine in industry in the GDR at the end of the sixties . in: Yearbook for Economic History 1983/4, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1983, pp. 25–51 ( digitized version of the entire yearbook )
  • Lothar Fritze : Organizational and Power Structures of Former GDR Combines. Decay processes of the centrally controlled economic units as obstacles or catalysts of the transition to the market economy (= KSPW short study . 110). KSPW, Halle 1995.
  • Rohnstock Biografien (Ed.): The Combine Directors: Now let's talk. What can be learned from the GDR economy today , edition berolina, 4th edition, Berlin 2013, ISBN 9783867898133 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Kombinat  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Rita Aldenhof-Hübinger: "Attention, dry cleaning!" Crafts and services in the GDR, in: Documentation Center for Everyday Culture of the GDR eV (ed.): Progress, Norm and Stubbornness, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-86153-190-9 , p. 105-112.