National Prize of the GDR

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National Prize of the GDR

The National Prize of the GDR was an award in the German Democratic Republic , which was awarded in three classes for "outstanding creative work in the fields of science and technology, important mathematical and scientific discoveries and technical inventions, the introduction of new working and production methods" or for " Outstanding Works and Achievements in the Fields of Art and Literature ”.


The establishment of the award goes back to an ordinance of the German Economic Commission of March 31, 1949. The exact procedure was regulated by the German Economic Commission on May 18, 1949.

The award was first presented on August 25, 1949, and thus before the founding of the GDR, under the name “German National Prize in the Goethe Year 1949” by the Presidium of the German People's Council in Berlin. The corresponding certificate was signed by Wilhelm Pieck and others. The medal on the ribbon was made of gold in 1949 and was 25 millimeters in diameter. On August 1 of the same year, Thomas Mann had already received an ad hoc and never again awarded Goethe National Prize , which was donated by the City of Frankfurt am Main in competition with the Goethe Prize .

After the founding of the GDR, the award of the national prize was regulated by a new ordinance. The award took place annually on October 7th, the " Republic Day ". In contrast to October 7th, national prizes were awarded to collectives for outstanding scientific achievements in the field of competitive sports and sports medicine in some Olympic years. On the occasion of the completion of the Palace of the Republic in April 1976, national prizes were also awarded. Not only individual GDR citizens , but also foreigners or groups of people could receive the award for corresponding achievements for socialist science or culture. Especially for outstanding scientific achievements, the prize was often awarded to whole research collectives and not to individuals. The national prize was awarded in three classes; the first class was with a cash prize of 100,000 marks , the second class with 50,000 marks and the III. Class associated with 25,000 marks. Multiple awards to the same recipient were possible.

The badge consisted of a round gold medal, which was 750 gold until the beginning of the 1970s , then a gold medal with a diameter of 26 millimeters. The front showed a portrait of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the words "German Democratic Republic", the reverse was labeled with the word "Nationalpreis". The medal was to be worn on the upper right side of the chest.


Mostly men were honored with the national prizes. The National First Class Prize for Science and Technology was awarded to a total of 455 individuals, but only ten of them were women. For the first time in 1950, a woman, Cécile Vogt, received the award, followed 20 years later by Helga Müller and Barbara Hafner. The National First Class Prize for Art and Literature was awarded to 258 people, including 44 women. With Christel Goltz it received in 1949 for the first time a woman, most recently in 1989 was Hedda Zinner excellent. A similar picture of the gender distribution emerges for the other classes of the prize.

While in a few years (1956, 1957, 1962, 1963 and 1965) the National First Class Prize for Science and Technology was not awarded, in 1977 29 people shared this award. This is followed by the years 1988 with 25 and 1985 and 1989 with 24 honors each. No prizes were awarded in the Art and Literature category in 1956, 1957 and 1962, but 29 in 1984 (1968: 21, 1985: 18).

See also


  • Dietrich Herfurth: The National Prize of the GDR. On the history of a German award. With all award winners, titles and areas of activity . Self-published, Berlin 2006.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ordinance on the preservation and development of German science and culture, the further improvement of the situation of the intelligentsia and the enhancement of their role in production and in public life , printed in Neues Deutschland , April 1, 1949
  2. ^ The first implementation order of May 18, 1949 for the ordinance on the preservation of German science and culture , printed in: Our government promotes intelligence. Cultural Association for the Democratic Renewal of Germany, 1953, pp. 22-25, OCLC 250588778
  3. The gold medal of the German National Prize 1949 awarded on August 25, 1949 by the Presidium of the German People's Council
  4. Angela Martin: "From progressive interest" - The Goethe year 1949 in the Soviet occupation zone . In: ak - analyze & kritik , No. 429, August 26, 1999
  5. ^ Ordinance of the government of the German Democratic Republic on the development of a progressive democratic culture of the German people and on the further improvement of the working and living conditions of the intelligentsia of March 16, 1950 . printed in: Neues Deutschland from March 23, 1950
  6. Neues Deutschland , October 28, 1972, p. 3
  7. ^ New Germany , September 10, 1976, p. 4
  8. Neue Zeit , April 23, 1976