Agriculture in the GDR

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article describes the development of agriculture in the Soviet Zone and the GDR between 1945 and 1990.

Agricultural policy in the GDR can be divided into three phases of development. In the first, around 40 percent of the agricultural land was expropriated and redistributed without compensation in the so-called land reform. From 1952 on, collectivization began in a second phase with the simultaneous abolition of owner-managed farms. A phase of specialization and industrialization began as early as the 1960s, during which the GDR leadership tried unsuccessfully to use the structures created by forced collectivization to demonstrate the superiority of socialism economically over so-called capitalist countries abroad.

In the course of collectivization, much larger strikes arose in the GDR territory (here in Brandenburg) than in the Federal Republic of Germany

Development phases over time

Expropriation of previous owners and creation of new farmer positions

Preliminary planning

Neubauer from Althaldensleben b. Magdeburg, 1951

After the Casablanca Conference , a twenty-person "Working Committee of the Central Committee of the KPD " was formed in Moscow on February 6, 1944 , in which members of the National Committee for Free Germany, in close consultation with Soviet agencies, set up the "Action Program of the Bloc of Militant Democracy" in which the eradication of the National Socialist legacy, food security and the creation of a close alliance between the workers and the "working" farmers were formulated as goals for the further development of agriculture and rural areas. The action program called for land reform without addressing the specific framework conditions. The KPD leadership came predominantly from an urban environment and, due to their origins, was hardly able to work out more precise plans for agriculture and therefore limited themselves to applying Marxist theories . The first concrete plans remained with the declaration of intent to consider small farmers as “natural allies” and landowners as undesirable. Medium-sized companies should be "neutralized". There was no objective of realizing a communist agricultural policy without private property. The aim of the expropriations was nevertheless maintained, although Edwin Hoernle , for example , as one of the few with agricultural expertise in the KPD, had already warned in Moscow of the economic consequences of lower productivity.

Framework conditions and data

During and after the end of the Second World War on May 8, 1945 , the population and the state administrations needed to manage the consumption of consumer goods, which in particular included food produced in agriculture, in all occupation zones due to a scarcity of resources. The economy was based more on the principle of the Soviet planned economy and less on the laws of the market economy, which regulated production and consumption via food cards and fixed prices.

Land reform document 1947 (because seedlings are delayed)

In the Soviet occupation zone , a total of 9050 farms with an area of ​​over 100 hectares were affected as potential estates to be expropriated, based on the results of the business census in 1939 . That was 1.5 percent of the farms, which cultivated 28.3 percent of the usable agricultural area (UAA). In 1949, of these 7,079 businesses, most of which had previously been privately owned, were expropriated. On the total usable area that was confiscated, which made up around 34% of the total land, 210,259 new farmer jobs were created by the end of 1950 , whereby the goal of agricultural structural change formulated in Moscow with the creation of a new social group, which, in the opinion of the KPD leadership, is natural as small farmers Allies of the party were realized.

The spontaneous uprising hoped for by the KPD with wild expropriations by local groups did not materialize despite the attempt to artificially stage it. The Soviet dictator Josef Stalin personally ordered the expropriation of all holdings above the arbitrary limit of 100 hectares. The concrete execution was incumbent on the German communists.


Even at the beginning of the redistribution campaign, the problem arose that many potential beneficiaries did not want to accept the space offered to them, in particular from personally known former owners. The most serious problems arose from the fact that neither the Soviet occupying power nor the German communists were able to secure the land reform to the extent that the new farmers had sufficient means of production (seeds, fertilizer, animals) in addition to the land. On the contrary, many new farmers even lacked houses and stables. Of the 37,000 houses planned to be completed by the end of 1948, only 748 farmsteads had actually been completed and construction work had at least begun on a further 4,431. As a result of the many problems, more than a third of all new farmers had left their farms before the forced collectivization . A successor could only be found in just under a tenth of the abandoned businesses. In April 1952, 235,000 hectares were not or only insufficiently farmed in the Soviet zone. In the course of the forced collectivization, all new farmer positions were dissolved again by 1960.

Collectivization and formation of agricultural production cooperatives


At the end of 1948 the collectivization of agriculture began in the entire Eastern European economic area. The " class struggle " should also be promoted in the countryside. In particular, the remaining medium-sized farms over 20 hectares and the self-governing agricultural (pre-war) organizations such as breeding associations, Raiffeisen cooperatives, etc. a. were declared opponents of the regime alongside remaining bourgeois officials and scientists. Immediately after the end of the war, the larger farms were much more economically successful than the smaller new farmers. The established infrastructure and technology were available to them and they mostly had farm managers who had learned the trade of farmers and who had the necessary knowledge to run the business. Although the state even benefited from the larger farms, since they had to provide higher delivery rates since 1946, they were declared class enemy and massively disadvantaged compared to the new farmers, who were often barely able to generate their own needs. From January 1, 1949, new laws were passed in quick succession that put holdings over 20 ha at a disadvantage compared to smallholders. In addition to the disadvantage in the supply of operating resources and machines, farms over 50 hectares had to deliver more than three times as much per hectare as small farmers. In 1952, farms over 20 hectares had almost three times the delivery target compared with smallholders. Attempts were also made to socially exclude larger farmers. The previous structures within the agricultural organizations, especially the Raiffeisen cooperatives, in which mostly successful farmers held leading positions, were smashed from 1949 onwards. In the newly founded Association of Mutual Peasant Aid (VdgB) and the also newly founded Democratic Peasant Party of Germany (DBD), only loyal party members of the SED were appointed to leadership positions.

The aim was to persuade farmers to give up through justice terrorism. Farmers were punished en masse for failing to comply with delivery regulations. With government purchase prices that were below production costs, the companies were deliberately driven into economic ruin. Plant managers were arrested and the factories confiscated in many cases. This was not without consequences for the cultivation of the land insofar as over 5000 farming families fled to the Federal Republic of Germany between 1950 and 1952 alone , and as a result more than 10 percent of the large farms were no longer cultivated, as new managers could only be found in exceptional cases.

Ideologically there had been efforts since 1948 for a “second land reform”, in which the landowners were expropriated and a system similar to the Soviet collective farms was to be installed. Due to the experiences in the USSR with the famine of 1932/33 with millions of dead after the forced collectivization, Stalin had warned at the end of 1948 against a too quick implementation of this ideology. However, after a change in policy since then, the SED leadership urged the needy small farmers to find new farmer jobs, a steadily increasing number of large farmers fleeing to the West and, due to the lack of productivity, in addition to non-fulfillment of the five-year plan , also an insufficient supply of the Had run grocery stores.


On April 24, 1952, the SED energetically denied rumors in its party newspaper Neues Deutschland for the last time that collectivization was imminent, although this had already been decided at the time. At the beginning of April, a high-ranking SED commission was in Moscow, where, in addition to the request for a definitive demarcation to the west with the closure of the borders and the establishment of its own army, it had also received the suggestion to establish agricultural production cooperatives (LPG). Stalin had set the deadline for autumn 1952 and expressly warned against coercive measures and instead called for the creation of model cooperatives from which a mass movement was to emerge. After the fundamental decision had been made in Moscow, the relevant resolutions for implementation were made in the SED Politburo . Among other things, Minister of Agriculture Paul Scholz was replaced by Wilhelm Schröder , and a State Secretary for Production Cooperatives was appointed in the Ministry of Agriculture. Just one day later, Walter Ulbricht informed the district secretaries of the SED in Berlin about the change in agricultural policy and gave them instructions on how to implement it. The Unity Party should not appear to the outside world, but should still be in control at all times. Asked to do so by the district leaders, who also took care of the driving opportunities, delegations from all over the territory of the GDR arrived at the Ministry of Agriculture in the near future, demanding the formation and support of production cooperatives.

Even if this demand was not made entirely voluntarily by the respective farmers, this does not mean that not many of the participants were actually interested. These were almost exclusively economically unsuccessful new farmers who had not been able to find a place in the social fabric of their village. At the same time, they were often in leading positions in the SED within their environment. They had experience of cooperative cooperation through the machine-tractor station . The LPGs founded in the first few weeks in June / July 1952 were therefore founded voluntarily out of the self-interest of the companies that were previously in distress with a genuine desire for cooperation between those involved.

In July 1952, at the Second Party Conference , the SED finally demanded the collectivization of agriculture, citing the demands of “working farmers”. The three types of LPG were decided.

On June 8, 1952, the first LPG was founded in Merxleben .

The problems of this policy soon became apparent. Since almost only economically weak farms joined together to form cooperatives, while the vast majority of farmers refused to join, the newly founded cooperatives were hardly economically viable compared to the remaining farmers. Even though several of the specially subsidized model LPGs were insolvent at the end of 1952, the SED reacted in such a way as to increase the pressure on the farmers who did not want to join. LPG leaders were armed, farmers were imprisoned, show trials were held in villages, delivery obligations were arbitrarily increased, and more and more farmers were expropriated. Due to an ordinance from February alone, 6,500 farmers were expropriated within five weeks. The police, the judiciary and the Stasi were in constant use.

Farmers "fleeing the republic"
quarter number
I. 1952 455
I. 1953 5,685
II. 1953 5,391

Another consequence of collectivization was the flight of thousands of farmers to the West. The attempted replacement of the labor force by industrial workers and even by prisoners failed. In the villages it was said at the time that the (actually non-existent) LPG Type IV would prevail, "in which the people are gone, but the business is still there".

After Stalin's death in March 1953, the new Moscow leadership ordered the termination of collectivization. The GDR leadership only formally obeyed and in reality continued the compulsory integration into production cooperatives, which further increased the problems within the GDR, which had long since not only existed in agriculture. There had been food supply problems throughout the winter of 1952/53, and in the spring the SED had even withdrawn food cards from two million citizens .

After the situation had worsened at the beginning of June 1953, the SED leadership was ordered to Moscow. There she received the orders to change her policy, later known as the “New Course”. In the text published on June 10th without comment by the German communists, these mistakes had to be admitted and a change of course in the previous policy announced. The rural population took this as an admission of the incompetence of the government, and even before the unrest in the big cities from June 12, 1953, there was resistance in the villages against local SED functionaries.

In the countryside too, the uprisings were put down by military means. Villages were surrounded by tanks and many arrests were made. As a result of the announcements in the “New Course”, 10 percent of the LPGs that had already been founded dissolved again, and 30,000 previous members left the cooperatives. The collectivization experiment ended, if only for the time being. Some of the demands made by the farmers during the protests were addressed in the weeks that followed. In particular, the quotas for delivery obligations were reduced, the state's financial claims were deferred or completely waived, and for the time being, the state also emphasized the support of individual farms of all sizes.

In fact, the SED was not ready to change course. In September 1953 it was decided to give priority to the collectivization of agriculture. This was also done with the hope that the uncultivated land created by the failed policy, which reached its peak in 1956 with 16 percent of the total LN, could be put back into production. The attempt to combine and cultivate fallow land in local farms (ÖLB) was unsuccessful, and even the newly founded LPGs, which were poorly equipped with resources and machines, were overwhelmed as successors to ÖLB. Also because they were usually not headed by an agricultural specialist, but rather by a party member. The phase of conversion from ÖLB to LPG was a further setback in the endeavor to collectivization, because the family businesses only saw the uneconomical new cooperative businesses and blamed the system for this.

Share of land in LPG
year %
1953 12.7
1954 12.0
1955 17.6
1956 21.5
1957 23.1
1958 27.9
1959 37.8
1960 84.1 *
* Rest mostly VEG

The beginning of the XX. Measures for cautious de-Stalinization introduced at the CPSU party congress from February 1956 also resulted in changes in the agricultural policy of the individual states in the Eastern bloc. While collectivization was discontinued in Poland and Hungary, there were intellectual discussions in the GDR, which received attention in the villages. The “New Agricultural Program for the Development of Agriculture in the Construction of Socialism in the GDR”, which was presented by Kurt Vieweg in October 1956, achieved a certain popularity with the rural population because it was developed by a specialist with agricultural economic knowledge and thereby contained practicable requirements. It was based on long-term coexistence between individual farmers and cooperatives. Vieweg assumed that the cooperatives would be superior, but they should only be introduced across the board after they had also proven their superiority. Before that, no type of company should be unilaterally promoted or disadvantaged. After the Poznan uprising and the Hungarian Revolution to Orthodox squads within the SED prevailed, and Vieweg and his assistant Marga Langendorf were ousted in the sequence and as counter-revolutionaries to several years imprisonment convicted. The official party program continued to contain the collectivization of all farms, without the SED being able to stop the discussion in the villages about the Vieweg paper. In the years between 1956 and 1958, few farmers joined the production cooperatives.

At the 5th party congress in July 1958, the SED decided to push ahead with forced collectivization and to complete it by 1965. In 1958 the last ration cards in the GDR were abolished (in the Federal Republic as early as 1950), which led to a noticeably higher demand for food, which could not be met despite existing increases in production. Although the individual farmers delivered relatively more than the cooperatives, the party leadership of the SED was of the opinion, for ideological reasons, that only complete cooperativeization could solve the problems. At the end of 1959 45.1 percent of the agricultural area was cultivated by 9,566 production cooperatives. There were no longer any individual farmers in 365 villages. This contrasted with around 400,000 private farms and 883 villages had no LPG. After more than 10 percent of farmers had joined an LPG in the previous year, this development stagnated at the beginning of 1959. In the first quarter only 1.1 percent of farmers had decided to switch. In terms of agricultural policy, there was a supply and collectivization crisis at the same time. On June 3, 1959, the People's Chamber passed the law on the establishment of cooperatives.

After the district of Eilenburg , in which the production standards had previously been particularly well below, reported as the first district on December 12, 1959, that all farmers had joined an LPG and that the plans would therefore soon be over-fulfilled due to the "change in awareness of the people in our villages" , that was believed uncritically by the SED. Since she continued to see collectivization as the only way to remedy the emergency, considerations were made as to how the rural population, which has resisted this since 1953, could be forced to enter with coercive measures. Voluntary accessions were meaningless from 1960 onwards, and from Berlin came the ultimate instruction to complete collectivization. Since officially no coercion should be applied, organs of the police, the judiciary and the state security , but also workers, students and members of the fighting groups of the working class were sent to the farmers in order to “convince” them. There was no possibility of complaint for them. Anyone who fought against illegal methods such as smashed windows, intruders into the apartment, psychological terror with loudspeaker vans around the clock and other things, had to expect to be humiliated and imprisoned as a class enemy and provocateur by prosecutors and the judiciary. Many farming families saw the only solution as a forced entry, to destroy their farms by arson or to commit suicide . At the same time there was a new wave of exodus from the republic by farmers. In the first half of 1960, this was twice as many as in the same period of the previous year, with 5,257 previously employed in agriculture. About the same number were arrested while trying. The SED leadership achieved its goal, however, and on April 25, 1964, Walter Ulbricht reported to the People's Chamber that all agrarian difficulties had come to an end because the cooperative process had been successfully completed. Very few individual businesses such as Hof Marienhöhe , which was run by an Austrian owner, managed to continue to operate as an individual business.

Implementation of collectivization
year Number of LPG Number of members LN in ha LN in% of the GDR
1956 6,281 219,559 1,500,700 23.2
1957 6,691 229.026 1,631,900 25.2
1958 9,637 352.938 2,386,000 37.0
1959 10.132 435,365 2,794,300 43.5
1960 19,345 961,539 5,384,400 84.4 (remainder mostly VEG)
Propaganda images with original captions (shortened; spelling errors that distort the meaning have been partially corrected)
1958 : Farmers' forum in Hohenkirchen with Paul Verner . On November 10th, 1958, a farmers' forum took place in the culture house of the allotment gardeners in Hohenkirchen in the Rochlitz district . At the forum, the top candidate for constituency 18, Paul Verner, answered the farmers' questions. The working individual farmers were particularly interested in the prospects of the farmers in LPG's. Shown here: Paul Verner in his presentation.
1960 : [...]  Full of outrage, the members of the LPG "Otto Buchwitz" in Lampertswalde , Oschatz district, turn against the Rias ' attempts to hinder development in the village through lies. The American propaganda broadcaster had made the false claim that several farmers hanged themselves in Lampertswalde to avoid joining the LPG. [...] Shown here: "I was not forced by anyone to join the LPG. I have even less reason to hang myself, ”explained the cooperative farmer Hildegard Eulitz, […] . "We took this step voluntarily because we recognized that the future belongs to the LPG."  [...]
1960 : Farmers in the Guben district pay tribute to the president. On March 9, 1960, agitators from the National Front in the Guben district distributed leaflets with President Wilhelm Pieck's letter in which he expressed the hope that his home district would become the first fully cooperative district in the Cottbus district. […] Shown here: […] Wilhelm Krautz said: “We have always been ahead in the Guben district over the years. Then we got stuck for a while and now we're on the climb again. We Gubener honor our President. Several days ago I gave my signature for the cooperative. "
1960 : Yesterday still individual builders, today agitator for the new. Colleague Emil Graba, one of the good farmers from Altgolßen, became a member of the LPG "Florian Geyer" last week. He didn't want to stand aside any longer when it comes to sparking the Golßen's enthusiasm in the entire village, which is why he went to see individual farmer Friedrich Schur. "I can't understand how you can get into the LPG so quickly," said Einzelbauer Schur to colleague Garba. “ […]  But you know that we, as individual farmers, cannot keep up with the LPG. Socialism is coming anyway, and we should all join in and not hesitate any longer. "  [...]

Immediate consequences

After the forced collectivization was over, the SED leadership was convinced that the now possible central planned economy in agriculture would prove to be superior to the western economy in the short term. The production numbers remained far below expectations from the start. By the end of May alone, 29 million tonnes less meat had been delivered than planned. There was no fresh fruit at all, and there were almost no fresh vegetables in shops. The need for legumes was only 60 to 70 percent met, and the canned food was only pumpkin and plums. The supply difficulties were one of the most important topics of conversation in the months after the forced collectivization, which the population saw as the cause of the low productivity of the LPG.

Although the sum total of many factors could be found in individual farms, such as the excessive administration and individual functionaries' addiction to profile, other problems were systemic and affected the overall organization of agricultural policy. There were also permanent bottlenecks in operating resources for farms. There was a lack of fuel and spare parts for the machines, and in the beginning the number of livestock on most farms was too low for the area.

The biggest problem, however, was the unwillingness of the members who were forced to join involuntarily to contribute to the success there. In some areas they chose “ March fallen ” as their self-designation , and a “work-slowly ideology” took hold. Many tried to concentrate their work energy on the 0.5 hectare area, which everyone as a personal housekeeping could continue to manage and use on their own responsibility outside the LPG.

There was a further increase in refugees from the republic. In 1960 10,233 people working in agriculture fled, and in the first quarter of 1961, the year the Berlin Wall was built , in which the security of the inner-German border was strengthened, another 2,401. At the same time there were waves of withdrawals from the agricultural production cooperatives. The overall social and economic problems were existential for the SED and the GDR state. The only solution she could think of was a complete closure of the borders, especially because of the clearly visible better standard of living in the West. The unsuccessful agricultural policy played a major role in the difficult situation in the GDR. The building of the wall only had direct consequences for a few in the country. Because a lot of people who were dissatisfied with the situation had left the GDR beforehand, there were no protests. On the contrary, one Stasi employee wrote: “Regarding the security measures in Berlin, it can be said that these had a very positive effect. You don't hear anyone nagging anymore, and everyone tries hard to cooperate. "

"Industrialization" and specialization

After the forced collectivization, a phase followed in which the political requirement was to bring the working conditions and production processes into line with those of the “working people” in industry. In addition, the structure of the existing LPG should be changed from Type I, which was prevalent at the beginning of the 1960s, to Type III, which also included animal husbandry.

At the beginning of the 1970s there was almost only Type III LPG. In 1973 the companies were separated. The plant productions of several LPGs were combined into one LPG (P) and the remaining hull cooperatives continued to operate either alone or after the merger of several companies as LPG (T) specializing in animal husbandry. The desired synergy effects did not result. On the contrary, there was competition between the plant and animal farms for scarce resources such as labor. In addition, there was little incentive for the LPG (P) to produce high-quality feed, and the LPG (T) often saw no need to create sufficient storage space for farm manure, so that it could not be put to good use.

After the turn

After the fall of the Wall , East German agriculture was not competitive despite the existing farm structures. Far too many employees achieved insufficient earnings with the ailing technology and the outdated stables. There was a fundamental restructuring of agriculture. The LPG were often converted into limited liability companies or registered cooperatives under the Cooperative Law . The restitution of expropriated land and the sale of LPG land provided the basis for reinstatements .

Reorganization of ownership
Share of UAA according to the legal form of the establishments (2000)
Operating mode Percentage ownership %
Cooperatives 31
GmbH 22nd
Public companies 1
Sole proprietorship 22nd
Partnerships 22nd

In contrast to other business, where most businesses in the public property were (see German reunification # reorganization of ownership ), was the factor land with the old Hofgrundstücken and originally introduced livestock and machinery by GDR law owned by the original owner remained. The only exceptions were the large landowners expropriated during the land reform before 1948 and later foreclosures and expropriations for political reasons, for example after the successful escape from the republic.

Immediately after reunification, efforts were made to give preference to individual farms over the 3,844 LPG and 464 nationally owned goods (VEG) that existed in 1989, as a result of the Federal Republic's agricultural policy , which traditionally feels obliged to family farms, and the farmers' association , which is an influential lobby organization . In the discussion, however, there were always voices in favor of maintaining the large companies. By 1991/92 at the latest, when the farmers' association had also decided to take on corporations as members, it was then clear that both family businesses and LPG successor businesses should remain side by side.

In the Agriculture Adjustment Act in the summer of 1990, the last, already freely elected People's Chamber regulated the practical implementation of the legal transfer from state-owned businesses to market-based ones.

Information on old debts:

Agricultural engineering

Progress tractor ZT 300

After the war, a large number of agricultural machinery manufacturers developed in the Soviet occupation zone and later in the GDR with defined specializations in line with the planned economy. From 1978 onwards, the combine progress agricultural machinery was the main manufacturer and supplier of agricultural machinery in the GDR. The production of agricultural machinery could not meet the demand, especially at the beginning, until 1949 considerable reparations deliveries were made to the USSR. Self-made tractors were also used in horticulture and private agriculture . From 1949 universal implement carriers were developed, that was originally the "Mole", from 1951 to 1956 there were then 5751 units ´ RS 08 and 1954 to 1961 12,000 units RS 09 . These implement carriers with a large number of different attachments were particularly important for the large number of land reform farms, which were relatively small with around 10 hectares, and later the first LPGs. Similar machines have been manufactured and used in the Federal Republic of Germany since the 1950s. These small tractors, which were produced in series, were designed to serve a wide variety of purposes due to their modular structure and were therefore more economical than previous tractors.

With the stabilization of the middle class and the emergence of the first LPGs, larger tractors were required. From 1949 to 1952 there were 3761 “Aktivist” pieces , 1953 to 1956 7574 RS 04/30 pieces . With the collectivization in 1960, larger and heavier tractors were needed. B. the "Famulus" with 3820 pieces from 1960 to 1963. From 1967 the production of the standard tractor ZT 300 began , which was manufactured and used in the basic version with a quantity of 35,000 and in 1983 in the version ZT 320 .

The Soviet K-700 all-wheel drive tractors were used for heavy tasks such as deep plowing . The small tractors from the Soviet manufacturer Belarus, for example of the MTZ-82 type , were also available in various designs. Polish (Ursus) or Czech (Zetor) models were also to be found.

Other branches of agricultural machinery also developed in a similar manner. The most frequently used machines were the tractor series ZT 300 and combine harvesters E 175, E 512 from 1968, as well as the successors E 516 from 1978 and E 514 from 1983.

The mechanization of agriculture was primarily carried out by the large farms. In order to enable small farmers to have access to machines, machine lending stations (MAS) and machine tractor stations (MTS) were set up after the land reform . From the 1970s, these were then transferred to the LPGs of the respective area with the workforce as employees and with the technology. Their operations and craftsmen then took over the repair and service activities for the agricultural machinery in the agricultural engineering plant construction companies (LTA).

For the low-loss storage and drying of the grain harvest, specialized agricultural companies were founded in each district. In the field of animal production, standardized stalls were developed as type buildings. For the development of fallow land (for example in the Oderbruch), special companies for melioration construction were founded. For fertilization and weed control, the Agro-Chemical Centers (ACZ) were formed in the districts, which, among other things, also managed the operations of agricultural aircraft.

Employed in agriculture

Also in the GDR (as in the other industrialized countries) there was a tertiaryization , i.e. a shift in the number of employees from agriculture to industry and from there to the service professions. For agriculture, this meant a continuous decline in the number of employees and the share of agricultural products in the value of the national income. This process was a result of the advancing industrialization of agriculture and technical progress. However, this development turned out to be considerably less than at the same time in the Federal Republic.

In the GDR, the share of those employed in agriculture fell from 27.9% in 1950 to 10.8% in 1989. In the Federal Republic of Germany the share had fallen to 3.9% over the same period. This was assessed in such a way that agriculture in the GDR would have reached the level of productivity in 1989 that had been achieved in the West in 1965. However, a large number of workers were employed in agriculture in the GDR, especially in the agricultural production cooperatives (LPG), who were not included in the immediate production sector (administration, auxiliary and ancillary areas, supply, cultural area, etc.). For Thuringia z. B. stated that only 58% of those employed in agriculture were active in production.

On the one hand, the main reason given for the lower productivity is the destruction of the stratum of family farms. Not least because of the land reform in 1950, 25% of the working population in the GDR were self-employed or family workers. In 1989 it was just 2.1%. In agriculture, collectivization had turned self-reliant entrepreneurs into dependent employees. On the other hand, the difficult situation in agriculture is also explained by its embedding in the scarcity economy of the GDR. The lack of equipment and supplies of auxiliary services / materials had to be compensated by the LPG themselves.


As a political organization of the rural population, the Union of Mutual Peasant Aid was founded as a mass organization in November 1945 . In the state elections in the Soviet Zone in 1946 , the VdgB only received 2.9% of the votes. Like the other parties also became the VdgB into line and in the National Front incorporated.

The highest agricultural authority was the GDR Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Management. Ministers were Ernst Goldenbaum , Paul Scholz , Georg Ewald , Heinz Kuhrig , Bruno Lietz , Hans Watzek and Peter Pollack .

The agra was the most important agricultural exhibition in the GDR.

Agriculture in ideology and propaganda

Propaganda picture. Original
picture description from 1952: Master builder Schimke from Löbersdorf near Bitterfeld. (see accompanying text). Shown here: In addition to his strenuous agricultural activity, he reads political literature in his free time. As he says, the White Paper opened his eyes to remilitarization in West Germany.

Agriculture played an essential role in the GDR's self-image. The GDR saw itself as a workers and farmers state , so agriculture was also the focus of propaganda by the SED and the GDR. The peasantry was understood as a class that exercised power together with the working class . In the state coat of arms of the GDR , the wreath of ears of corn, in the flag of the Soviet Union , the big brother of the GDR, the hammer and sickle, the sickle symbolized the class of peasants. After the founding of the Democratic Peasant Party of Germany (DBD) in April 1948, this bloc party soon reached 80,000 members. The DBD was the publisher of the daily Bauernecho .

Especially during the harvest season, the GDR population experienced enormous propaganda in the media. In order to reduce the annual harvest losses, special brigades with harvest workers were formed across the country. Agricultural machinery construction received a lot of attention in trade fair reporting, for example about the agra agricultural exhibition in Markkleeberg . GDR agricultural technology was supplied , for example, to Asian and African countries, but also to western countries such as France or the Federal Republic of Germany as compensation for raw materials and food. GDR agricultural experts were deployed as construction workers, for example in Nicaragua and Ethiopia .

From 1972 to 1978, GDR television broadcast around 80 episodes of the agricultural magazine Dorf modern , in which cultural, economic and agricultural policy topics were presented.


  • Michael Heinz: Of combine harvesters and model villages. Industrialization of GDR agriculture and the change in rural life. Metropol Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-940938-90-9 .
  • Ulrich Kluge , Winfrid Halder , Katja Schlenker (eds.): Between land reform and collectivization. Prehistory and early history of socialist agriculture in the Soviet Zone / GDR from the end of the war to the 1950s . Stuttgart 2001.
  • Klaus Schmidt (Ed.): Agriculture in the GDR - VEG, LPG and cooperations; how they became, what they were, what has become of them. Agrimedia, Clenze 2009, ISBN 978-3-86037-977-6 .
  • Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990 . Erfurt 2005, ISBN 3-931426-90-4 , (PDF; 195 kB).
  • Rudolf Wallrabe: When socialism came to the village. Notes of a farmer from Birmenitz (series of books by the Saxon State Commissioner for the Processing of the SED Dictatorship, Vol. 18). Edited by Nancy Aris and Wolfram Männel. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2020, ISBN 978-3-374-06345-1 .

Web links

Commons : Agriculture in the GDR  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. Jens Schöne : Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, pp. 9/10.
  2. ^ Stephan Merl : Sovietization in the world of consumption. In: Konrad Hugo Jarausch , Hannes Siegrist : Americanization and Sovietization in Germany 1945-1970. Campus Verlag, 1997, p. 173.
  3. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 12/13.
  4. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 13.
  5. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, pp. 14–18.
  6. a b Stephan Merl: Sovietization in Economy and Agriculture. In: European History Online (EGO). ed. from the Institute for European History (IEG), Mainz, June 16, 2011.
  7. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, pp. 18–21.
  8. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 21.
  9. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, pp. 21/22.
  10. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 24.
  11. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 25.
  12. Klaus Schroeder : The SED state. Böhlau Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21109-7 , p. 98.
  13. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, pp. 24–28.
  14. a b c Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 28.
  15. ^ Stephan Merl: Sovietization in the world of consumption. In: Konrad Hugo Jarausch , Hannes Siegrist: Americanization and Sovietization in Germany 1945-1970. Campus Verlag, 1997, p. 176.
  16. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 29.
  17. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 30.
  18. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, pp. 30/31.
  19. ^ Antonia Maria Humm : On the way to the socialist village? (= Critical Studies in History . Volume 131). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999, ISBN 3-525-35794-X , p. 114.
  20. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 31/32.
  21. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 33.
  22. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. P. 107.
  23. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, pp. 33–36.
  24. "That was a great injustice." Forced collectivization 50 years ago. In: Thüringische Landeszeitung. April 26, 2010.
  25. Ines Stockmann: The Collectivization of Agriculture in the GDR (PDF) from A Contribution to the History of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Berlin (center) with special consideration of the university political situation from the post-war period 1945 to the 80s. Dissertation . FU Berlin, 2003, p. 41 URN
  26. Locations of the pictures:
  27. a b c Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 38.
  28. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Civic Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 39/40.
  29. Jens Schöne: Beyond Berlin. Building of the Wall, Agriculture and Rural Society in the GDR. (PDF) Lecture on the occasion of the conference on the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall from June 16 to 18, 2011.
  30. a b Halvor Jochimsen: 20 years of Green Construction East. In: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture : Reports on Agriculture. Issue 2, 2010, pp. 203ff. pdf (online)
  31. a b Stefan Mann. Lothar Schaechterle: III. East German agriculture and EU agricultural policy: Healthy farms, sick land published by the State Center for Civic Education Baden-Württemberg , 2010 available online
  32. a b c Bernd Martens: Agriculture in East Germany: the late success of the GDR . Federal Agency for Civic Education, 2010.
  33. Jens Schöne: Agriculture in the GDR 1945–1990. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, 2005, p. 26 ff.
  34. ^ Doris Schwarzer: Labor Relations in Transition - FRG, GDR and New Federal States in Comparison. Stuttgart 1996, p. 81 ff.
  35. Katrin Kuester: The East German farmers and the turn. (PDF) Kassel 2002, ISBN 3-933146-96-8 , p. 78 ff.
  36. ^ Oskar Schwarzer: Socialist Centrally Planned Economy in the Soviet Zone / GDR. 1999, ISBN 3-515-07379-5 , pp. 86, 87.
  37. ^ Association for Agricultural Research and Education Thuringia e. V. Jena-Zwätz: Thuringian agriculture between World War II and reunification. 1999, ISBN 3-00-005288-7 , p. 55 ff.