Socialist Unity Party of Germany

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Socialist Unity Party of Germany


Party leader Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl
( Co-Chair , April 22, 1946 - April 6, 1954)
Gregor Gysi (December 9, 1989 - December 17, 1989)
Secretary General Walter Ulbricht (July 24, 1950 - May 3, 1971)
Erich Honecker (May 3, 1971 - October 18, 1989)
Egon Krenz (October 18, 1989 - December 6, 1989)
Honorary Chairman Walter Ulbricht (May 3, 1971 - August 1, 1973)
Emergence Forced unification of the Eastern SPD and KPD
founding April 21-22, 1946
Place of establishment Admiralspalast , East Berlin
renaming December 16-17, 1989
(renamed: Socialist Unity Party of Germany - Party of Democratic Socialism (SED-PDS) )
Headquarters House on Werderscher Markt , Berlin-Mitte
Youth organization Free German Youth (FDJ)
newspaper New Germany
Alignment Socialism
Stalinism (1946 - 1956)
Real Socialism (1973 - 1989)
Democratic Socialism (1989)
Colours) red
Number of members 2.3 million (October 1989)
Minimum age 18 years

The Socialist Unity Party of Germany ( SED ) was a Marxist-Leninist party that emerged in 1946 in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany and the four-sector city of Berlin from the forced unification of the SPD and KPD and subsequently developed under Soviet influence into the cadre and state party of the GDR , founded in 1949 . Since the constitution of the GDR laid down the SED's claim to leadership since 1968 and its nomenclature cadre permeated the organs of all three powers, legislative, executive and judicial , the political system of the GDR was de facto a one-party rule of the SED. In addition to the SED, there were also a few bloc parties that were supposed to give the appearance of a multi-party democracy .

In the course of the turning point and peaceful revolution in the GDR in 1989/90, the SED lost its position as the ruling state party, gave itself a new program and, in December 1989, initially renamed itself the Socialist Unity Party of Germany - Party of Democratic Socialism (SED-PDS) , on February 4, 1990 then to the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). In 2007, through merging with Labor & Social Justice - Die Wahlalternative (WASG), the party Die Linke emerged .




Unification party conference of the KPD and SPD to the SED in the Admiralspalast in Berlin, with the historic handshake between Otto Grotewohl and Wilhelm Pieck
Election poster (1947)
Election poster (1950)
Flag tip of the SED in its early form

The SED saw itself in the tradition of the KPD via the VKPD , the USPD , the Spartakusbund , the SPD , the SDAP , the ADAV to the German labor movement . After the twelve years of the dictatorship of National Socialism , Germany's political party landscape was completely destroyed, which made a new democratic beginning very difficult. So it was for the occupying powers to lay the foundations for social life. The Soviet Union responded first . With order number two of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) of June 10, 1945, she initiated political activity in her zone . According to this, the activity of anti-fascist- democratic parties and free trade unions should be allowed.

The Central Committee (ZK) of the CPSU had German communists and resistance fighters who had survived the Second World War returned to Berlin after extensive training in Moscow . Initially three initiative groups Ulbricht , Ackermann and Sobottka , which were active in Berlin, Saxony and Mecklenburg, had the task of building up the administration and giving the Soviet instructions a democratic appearance. One of these cadres was Wolfgang Leonhard , who later fled to the Federal Republic of Germany and who came to the Soviet occupation zone as a member of the Ulbricht group .

As early as June 11, 1945, the Central Committee of the KPD went public for the first time with its founding appeal. This rapid response was made possible by the activities of the groups mentioned above. A short time later, on June 15, the SPD published its call for a foundation.

Under the massive pressure of the Soviet occupying power and the KPD leadership, as well as with the support of leading Social Democrats and no fewer SPD and KPD members, working groups and committees were formed at all levels of the two parties, the declared aim of which was organizational unification. Parts of the social democratic side went further than the leadership of the KPD, which was initially rather cautious about unification and rejected an offer of unification by the Berlin Central Committee of the SPD under the leadership of Otto Grotewohl in June 1945. Driven by the occupying power and under the now changed tactics of the KPD leadership, the ZA of the SPD and the Central Committee of the KPD held a conference in December 1945 at which thirty leading representatives from both parties were present who decided to merge the two parties. The basic motivation was the experience with the split of the left-wing opponents of Hitler in the parliament of the late Weimar Republic , which was seen as one of the main reasons for the transfer of power to the NSDAP, which was partly due to the declamatory nature of the Buchenwald oath and the ideas of United and Popular Front was expressed. Another motivation for the communists was the unexpectedly poor performance of the Austrian communists in the National Council elections in Austria in 1945 .

Fierce controversies raged about the proposed unification, especially within the SPD. The actual chairman in West Germany , Kurt Schumacher , spoke out vehemently against this step. The central committee chaired by Grotewohl, the self-appointed governing body of the SPD in the Soviet Zone, was unable to come to an agreement at several meetings. He only agreed when the Saxon SPD state chairman Otto Buchwitz threatened to start unification with his state association. In the regional and local branches of the SPD in particular, the Soviet occupying power had the opportunity, among other things, to influence the SPD members with repression and arrests. But parts of the KPD leadership also had to abandon their ideas of building their own party, pursuing government policy and replacing what they saw as the discredited social democracy . This was due both to the increasing claim to leadership of the social democrats and to a lack of support from the population.

With regard to a union, there were large local differences. On February 23, 1946, the KPD and SPD district organizations merged in Neuruppin to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany . On the other hand, in a strike vote among SPD members, which could only take place in the western sectors in West Berlin , on March 31, 1946 around 82% of the participants spoke out against an immediate unification, but at least 62% in favor of “joint work” with the KPD out. In the Soviet sector of Berlin and in the Soviet occupation zone, the occupying power had prevented a strike vote by the SPD. In Berlin, where the SPD continued to exist in the eastern part of the city until 1961 , around two thirds of the members kept their social democratic party membership , and around one third joined the SED.

Main currents of the controversial discussions of the members in the German states were:

  • Forces of the KPD who continued the policy of demonizing the SPD as " social fascists ",
  • Forces of the SPD who called communists "red-painted fascists",
  • Forces who considered the political concepts of the KPD and SPD to be incompatible,
  • Unity efforts that resulted from the knowledge of Social Democrats and Communists from the time of common illegality and persecution under the National Socialist dictatorship and common resistance,
  • Efforts by the Soviet occupying power to establish Stalinist-oriented forces,
  • Efforts by the US, British and French occupying powers to establish anti-Soviet forces,
  • tactical and power-political efforts, especially in parts of the KPD leadership, in order to push back the growing influence of the SPD.

Founding through the forced union of the SPD and KPD

On April 21 and 22, 1946, delegates from the KPD and SPD, guests of honor and spectators gathered in the East Berlin Admiralspalast in Berlin's Friedrichstrasse for the joint party congress of the KPD and parts of the SPD. On the part of the SPD, 548 delegates (including 103 from the western occupation zones) took part and from the KPD 507 delegates (including 127 western). These represented around 680,000 social democratic and around 620,000 communist party members in the Soviet occupation zone. The event opened with Beethoven's Fidelio overture. Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl then stepped onto the stage from different sides and shook hands. This symbolic gesture was modeled on the SED emblem.

There were also various forms of cooperation and rapprochement efforts between social democrats and communists in the other zones of occupation. On July 24, 1945 in Hamburg and on August 8, 1945 in Munich, representatives of the SPD and the KPD decided on a joint program of action. In Frankfurt am Main a working committee of social democrats and communists was established on October 3, 1945, and on October 1, 1945 the unity committee of the SPD and KPD in Wiesbaden called for the unification of both local parties. In addition, social democrats and communists worked together at the local level in a number of cities.

Both in the American, British and French zones of occupation, as well as in the Soviet zone of occupation, these processes were influenced by the occupying powers. The unification in the Soviet zone of occupation came about largely through Soviet pressure. Among other things, comments on this point of view. the contemporary witness and co-responsible at the time, Wolfgang Leonhard, who documents the coordination by the Central Committee of the CPSU in his books.

In 2001, the members of the Bundestag Gabi Zimmer and Petra Pau (both PDS ) admitted that members of the SED allowed deception, coercion and repression in the process of unification, and had also made mistakes. On May 6, 2001, the party executive endorsed this statement.

Further development


Postage stamp for the 15th anniversary of the SED
Postage stamp for the 20th anniversary of the SED

At the time of its founding, the SED had around 1.3 million members, almost equally from the KPD and the SPD. The party program was initially based on anti-fascist-democratic principles.

In the state elections in 1946 , the united workers' parties clearly missed their election target: Despite massive support from the occupation authorities, the SED did not achieve an absolute majority in any country. In Mecklenburg and Thuringia they narrowly missed this, in Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg civil coalitions of the CDU and LDP would have been possible. The result in Greater Berlin was even more disappointing . In the election of the city ​​council of Greater Berlin in October 1946, in which the SED and the SPD stood up (→  special case Berlin ), the SPD won 48.7% of the vote compared to the SED with 19.8%, (CDU 22 , 2% and LDP 9.3%). This was the only free election in all of Berlin (before 1990).

Women, who dominated post-war society in numbers, were clearly underrepresented in the SED: in 1947 fewer than 24% of the members of the SED were women. In addition, predominantly men worked in professions with a particularly high proportion of members. In mid-1948 the number of members had grown to two million, which corresponded to a proportion of the population of sixteen percent.

The SED's first party program was based on the SPD's Erfurt program of 1891 to make it easier for former Social Democrats to agree. The original program of the SED avoided any reference to Leninism and spoke of the democratic path to socialism . No ideological restrictions have yet been imposed in the party statute . Rather, the SED was open to everyone who rejected National Socialism. There was still no candidate period, no reviews, no Politburo and no Secretary General . Offices were filled by communists and social democrats on a strictly equal footing . At that time there were also two party leaders : the social democrat Otto Grotewohl and the communist Wilhelm Pieck. The equal occupation of party offices did not protect the Social Democrats from being appropriated. Immediately after unification, the "marginalization of the social democrats", the "creeping Stalinization " and the centralization of the party began. Joint training courses for all party members were decided as early as May 1946:

“According to the principle of parity, half came from the former Social Democrats and only the other half from the Communist Party; but already in this phase one can see very clearly: Only a loyal party soldier will undertake this classification, this subordination to the leadership. To do this one needed a means; this means was indoctrination - or, as it was officially called, 'training'. "

- Hermann Weber

The SED distanced itself more and more openly from the principles of the association. The organizational restructuring of the SED initiated in autumn 1946 was deliberately aimed at suppressing social democratic influence, disempowering the lower party levels and concentrating power at the party leadership. This reorganization was underpinned by the guidelines for the organizational structure of the SED adopted by the Central Secretariat on December 24, 1946 . At the 2nd party congress in September 1947, the decision was made to create a new party program. From 1949 onwards, the social democrats were hardly to play a role. The equal representation of committees has been abolished. Officially, this was justified on the one hand with the “ideological union of party members” and on the other hand with the large number of young cadres who had not belonged to either the SPD or the KPD, so that if the parity had been maintained, they could not have been elected to leading positions. On the III. At the party congress in July 1950, the unification program "Principles and Goals of the SED" was finally suspended. However, the formulation of a new program allowed until VI. 1963 party congress in coming. In this program, the SED committed itself to the goal of communism , which was defined as a society "in which every worker uses his abilities with the greatest benefit to the people", following the Marxian principle of "everyone according to his abilities, everyone according to his own." Needs ". The SED stuck to this goal when it reformulated its program in 1976, in which the SED defined itself as a “voluntary fighting league of like-minded communists”.

Radical changes began after the First Party Conference in January 1949. Without calling a party congress and waiting for the approval of the delegates, the Stalinist reorientation of the party began, including the criminalization of social democratic positions ("social democracy"). Previously, at the 13th meeting of the party executive committee in autumn 1948, the formation of a central party control commission and in January 1949 the introduction of the candidate period and the conversion of the central secretariat into a Politburo had been decided. The Politburo took control of the party and the government to be formed. A resolution of the Secretariat of the Politburo of October 17, 1949 illustrates the role it played:

"Laws and ordinances of importance, materials of any other kind on which government resolutions are to be brought about, further proposals for the enactment of laws and ordinances must be submitted to the Politburo or the Secretariat of the Politburo for decision-making before they are passed by the People's Chamber and the government."

- Siegfried Suckut

Work in the West, in particular, and the option of a Germany to be reunified in a socialist manner, shaped the party work in the first few years. However, the SED did not succeed in achieving the desired goals. The fact that the SED was so unsuccessful in terms of German politics was primarily due to its party leadership, which did not want to recognize that, with its extreme positions on the transformation of Germany, it could not find discussion partners in the other zones of occupation (not even with the SPD). Even the KPD in the western zones was only partially ready for talks or even broke away organizationally from the SED in January 1949 and continued to work as a formally independent party. Attempts to expand party work to western Germany also failed.

In December 1947, the First German People's Congress for Unity and Just Peace, convened on the initiative of the SED, met for the first time in Berlin. It saw itself as a pan-German body against what, in the party language of the time, was the "splitting policy of the imperialist Western powers" . However, only 664 delegates and guests from the western occupation zones took part, including party cadres of the KPD (242 delegates) and the SPD (91 delegates). Despite massive pressure, the board of the CDU of the Soviet occupation zone decided not to participate, but allowed CDU members to participate as individuals.

Transformation of the SED into a new type of party

One of the main points of the agenda of the 1st party conference on 25. – 28. January 1949 in the house of the German Economic Commission in Berlin concerned the development of the SED into a new type of party . According to its own understanding, this is a party based on Marxism-Leninism and democratic centralism , with strict party discipline as an organizational principle, which sees itself as the vanguard of the proletariat .

Political situation

As a mass party, the SED reflected all trends in society. This did not correspond to the ideas of influential sections of the former KPD and the Soviet occupying power. Due to the increasing leadership of former communist members, a new, fundamental understanding of democracy was prevented. In addition, major reservations that spoke against a common policy of the SPD and KPD in the 1930s could not be dispelled. This primarily included moving away from the Stalinist repression , which German anti-fascists also fell victim to. Any attempt at a critical assessment of this policy out of the presence of the occupying power was forbidden. The strong ties between German communists and the CPSU and the associated influence on the part of the Soviet Union on all areas of party life also proved to be ominous. This culminated in the fact that national interests were unconditionally subordinated to Soviet aspirations. The preference of former communist functionaries by the occupying power and the way in which they used it for themselves, combined with political defamation , led to tension and damage within the SED.

Social situation

In Germany, the formation of two states that would belong to different blocs was emerging. The Cold War policy of confrontation was thus carried directly into the various zones of occupation. Violent disputes between the LDPD, CDU and SED regarding the economic development trend, resistance to land reform and nationalization , as well as contradictions between the market and central administration economy characterized the situation in the Soviet occupation zone. There were also various forms of white-collar crime and sabotage . It should not be overlooked that the SED specifically used 'economic offenses' as an instrument to criminalize the private sector. For this purpose, the Central Commission for State Control (ZKK) was founded in May 1948 :

"The use of the ZKK as an investigative body in economic criminal matters should now close this gap in the SED's sphere of influence: With the commission acting in close agreement with the SED, an authority was created that was supposed to guarantee jurisdiction in the sense of the SED and thus as a corrective of the decisions of the judicial staff acted. "
Effects on the party

In order to stabilize political power and under the influence of the CPSU it seemed to the leading circles of the SED necessary to reform the party. At the 1st party conference in January 1949 it also became clear that the Stalinist forces had successfully asserted themselves in the SED. It was restructured strictly according to the pattern of the CPSU, which was based on the principle of Stalinist “democratic centralism”. This included the abandonment of ideological neutrality in favor of strict materialism , the sole orientation towards Marxism-Leninism, which was shaped by Stalin, as a "scientific worldview" and the fight against all social democratic tendencies. About 150,000 members were excluded.

These processes were accompanied by persecutions, arrests, indictments and convictions of former social democrats, worker functionaries, former members of the KPO and SAP and western emigrants of the KPD with the direct involvement of the party control commission and later by organs of the GDR ( Ministry for State Security , People's Police , Judicial Apparatus ) the Stalinist forces in the SED prevailed. The SED thus became the state party of the GDR, alongside which the other bloc parties only played a subordinate role. After the Stalin Notes of March 1952 had been rejected by the Western powers and it was therefore foreseeable that there would be no reunification of Germany in the medium term , the Second Party Conference of the SED, which met from July 9 to 12, 1952, decided to build it up of socialism in the GDR:

  1. Reorganization of the state structure with the dissolution of the states and creation of 14 districts;
  2. Building armed forces;
  3. increased collectivization of agriculture.

Loss of supremacy, renaming

The revolutionary events of autumn 1989 ended the party's hegemony. On December 1, 1989, the People's Chamber deleted the SED 's claim to leadership from the constitution. At the Extraordinary Party Congress from 8./9. and 16./17. December 1989 in East Berlin it was renamed the Socialist Unity Party of Germany - Party of Democratic Socialism (SED-PDS) and the "irrevocable break with Stalinism as a system" was decided. During this time, the party changed significantly in terms of personnel, organization and content. On February 4, 1990, the SED-PDS separated from the SED part of the name, the new name was now the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).

On July 17, 2005, the PDS was renamed Die Linkspartei.PDS . After the union with the WASG on June 16, 2007, the party gave itself the name Die Linke . It was legally a merger according to the Transformation Act , the party itself describes the process as a new establishment. In a trial before the press chamber of the Berlin Regional Court in 2009, Federal Treasurer Karl Holluba stated that the Left Party was still “right-wing” with the SED.


Basic organization

The SED organized itself mainly in the factories and institutions of the GDR. This meant that virtually every area of ​​public life was subject to their influence. The requirements that should result from this for each member are expressed in the slogan “Where there is a comrade, there is the party” . This gave the basic organizations in the state- owned enterprises (VEB), machine-tractor stations (MTS), state-owned goods (VEG) and agricultural production cooperatives (LPG) express control over the activities of the management.

The party group formed the smallest organizational cell of the party. In it, the members elected the party group organizer (PGO) to be responsible for party work, a cashier, agitator and, depending on their size, members who were assigned to the leadership. If there were several party groups, they were combined in the departmental party organization (APO), which in turn formed a separate line around the departmental party secretary. The regular party meetings were used for political discussion and training. Several APOs or, in smaller institutions, often just one party group formed the basic organization (GO), which was headed by a party secretary . In the residential areas, there was the less important residential party organization (WPO) with a similar structure for non-employed people (housewives, pensioners) .

Party congress

Opening of the XI. 1986 Party Congress in the Palace of the Republic

The SED party congress was the highest party organ.

Party congresses were increasingly being prepared according to the staff plan, were not lacking in a strong staging and should always be understood as events for society as a whole. In doing so they went far beyond the mere character of political events. The delegates of the party congress were elected in the basic organizations according to a key determined by the Central Committee of the SED. Care was taken to ensure that the relationship between women and young people, members of state mass organizations and exemplary workers was preserved. Since the proposal for a delegation was brought to the basic organization by the higher-level management, an actual, democratic election did not take place. The party congress was introduced by welcoming the numerous guests from foreign communist and domestic bloc parties, representatives of liberation movements and friendly states. The focus was on a keynote speech by the respective Secretary General or First Secretary. This was followed by the discussion, in which longer additional speeches were made by the responsible members of the party apparatus and shorter contributions by selected delegates. All contributions to the discussion were prepared on a long-term basis, submitted several times to higher-level bodies for examination and repeatedly changed, so that they ultimately had little in common with the opinion of the speaker. These speeches were regarded as honors and should use typical examples to illustrate the implementation of the party's demands or to point out initiatives that are worth emulating. During the party congress, the general secretary of the CPSU was always the first to speak, other representatives of the parties present followed, and greetings were read out. The young pioneers , FDJers and soldiers of the NVA , who marched in with an emphatic solemn flag, carried out reports to the delegates and handed over obligations, created a strongly emotional atmosphere. Each delegate found a small present such as a pocket calculator or a portable radio in his or her seat . The reporting dominated the entire media landscape of the GDR. In addition to the extensive live broadcasts , summaries were broadcast in the current camera . The New Germany printed as a central organ of the speeches of the Secretary of the SED and the CPSU, in summary, the other guests and selected discussions. The district newspapers proceeded in a similar way, whereby the volume of the printed speeches was smaller, but voices, declarations of commitment and opinions from the population took up a large amount of space. The Dietz-Verlag also published brochures with the full content of the speeches. During and after the party congress, the speeches and their significance for social life in the GDR were discussed in the basic organizations.

In April 1946, an annual rotation of the party congresses was set at the founding party congress of the SED. The 2nd party congress actually took place in 1947, the third only in 1950. Thereafter, the party congresses were held every four years, from 1971 every five years. After the 11th party congress in 1986, the 12th convention should have taken place in 1991. However, this party congress date was brought forward to 1990 in 1989. Due to the turning point and the peaceful revolution , a short-term special party conference was held at the beginning of December 1989.

Party secretary

For the most part, party secretaries did volunteer work alongside their daily work. From a certain size of the basic organization, which always required many departmental organizations and intermediate bodies, full-time party secretaries were elected. Party secretaries in very large combines or in economically important companies were also members of higher-level management bodies, including the central committee. The task of the party secretary was to organize the political work. He prepared the party meetings and political training courses together with the party leadership, checked compliance with party resolutions, ensured that they were implemented, reported on and provided guidance. This also included a monthly report on “Moods and Opinions”, in which the public's opinion should be reflected. Since higher-level managements sometimes found criticism of their work in it, these were passed on in variously modified forms. This fact shows the increasing bureaucratization of the party apparatus and the existence of Stalinist tendencies. Party secretaries received special political qualifications on a monthly basis and were instructed and monitored by representatives of the higher party bodies, the instructors. They were also members of the state management and thus secured the SED's leadership claims in the factories and administrations. Management decisions were discussed in the party committees and ultimately decided. This meant that the state leader, if he was a member of the SED, was bound to implement the resolution.

The party secretary was apparently elected democratically through a vote of the members or delegates; in fact, the outcome was already predetermined through the nomination of suitable candidates. The limited room for maneuver that party secretaries had at their disposal, combined with disillusionment with the contradictions experienced in social development, meant that the voluntary function in particular was often only accepted under considerable moral pressure from the higher-level management.

District management

The basic organizations of a district were subordinate to the SED district leadership. There were a total of 262 district leaderships, twenty of them in central institutions such as Free German Youth (FDJ), Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB), Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Deutsche Reichsbahn and the military bodies Ministry of the Interior (MdI), Ministry for State Security (MfS ) and the National People's Army (NVA), each with its own political administration.

The district leadership as a body was an elected, voluntary body. In addition, there was the administrative institution Kreisleitung, which had employees who, however, were not necessarily members of the Kreisleitung committee, but administered the party apparatus. Their 1st secretary of the SED district leadership was supported by the 2nd district secretary, the secretaries for economy, agriculture, agitation and propaganda and the chairman of the district party control commission. This secretariat of the district leadership carried out the actual business. Other members of the secretariat were usually the chairman of the district council or council of the city, the chairman of the district planning commission, the chairman of the FDGB district board and the first FDJ district secretary. They directly influenced the work of the state organs, for example the council of the district. In principle, the party committees could "only" give recommendations to the state organs in their operational work, but were subject to approval in management issues (personnel decisions). The head of the district office of the MfS was always a member of the SED district leadership. The first district secretary was also the head of the district operations command, responsible for managing the district in a state of military defense.

The district audit commission, which controlled the finances and compliance with the resolutions, and the district party control commission, which examined internal party processes and was directly subordinate to the secretariat, acted as control bodies. The meeting of the district delegates' conference, in which elected representatives of the basic organizations (party secretary and, depending on the size, several members) took part, was an occasion to give an account, to pass resolutions, to confirm the work of the secretariat and the district leadership and to elect a new district leadership. In larger towns, a local leadership and a local delegate conference between district leadership and basic organizations was installed in order to organize party members who were not included in basic company organizations (pensioners, small craft businesses, freelancers, etc.). The district party school was assigned to the district leadership. The Thuringian writer Landolf Scherzer drew a picture of the work of a district leadership and its 1st secretary in his book Der Erste . In independent cities there was the city leadership of the SED with subordinate city district leaderships with party committees in the operations of the territory or residential party leaderships (WPO).

District management

Former building of the SED district leadership in Leipzig

This structure continued over the 15 districts with the district management (BL) and its secretariat as well as the above-mentioned commissions. The BL as a body was an elected, voluntary body. In addition, there was the administrative institution, district management, which had salaried employees who, however, were rarely members of the BL committee, but administered the party apparatus. Their 1st secretary was supported by the 2nd secretary and the secretariat with those responsible for agitation and propaganda, economy, science, culture and agriculture. Similar to the district leadership, the district chiefs of the FDJ, FDGB, district planning commission, etc. belong to this secretariat . The first secretary of the district leadership had considerable power in the district, was a member of the Central Committee of the SED and more rarely even a candidate or member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED (always the district secretary for the capital Berlin). He was also the chairman of the respective district operations management (BEL), which was responsible for managing the district in the event of a defense as an organ of the National Defense Council. In peacetime the seat of the BEL was usually the military district command. In the event of a defense, there were covered, prepared alternate command posts (AFüSt) available. A member of the BEL was always the respective head of the district administration for security (BfS) of the MfS and the district authority of the People's Police (BDVP). This meant that the head of the BfS was formally subordinate to the SED district chief, but had his own authority over all operational issues. The district party school was assigned to the district leadership as an educational institution. The BL was also responsible for a daily newspaper with numerous local editorial offices that belonged to the VOB Zentrag party . The first secretaries of the SED district and district leaderships were already nomenclature cadres , that is, they had to be confirmed by the SED Central Committee before they were elected to this party function.

Central Committee

Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED, Members and Candidates (1968)

The Central Committee (ZK) was the highest organ in the party structure between the party congresses. The center of power lay with the secretariat of the committee , which was headed by a general secretary (from 1953 to 1976 first secretary ). This in turn chaired the Politburo . In the political ranking, the members of the Central Committee were above the ministers, the Central Committee secretaries and department heads were authorized to issue instructions to the state ministers. This leadership role results from the constitution of 1968, in which the leadership role of the SED was enshrined.

The delegates of the III. In 1950, at the SED party congresses , a central committee based on the Soviet model was elected to replace the party executive committee, which had previously had parity. The dominance of former KPD members (62.5%) over former SPD members (24%) was striking in the Central Committee. Little was left of the initial parity within the SED four years after the unification of the workers' parties.

"House of the Central Committee" of the SED 1951 in the former house of the Reich Youth Leadership , formerly the Jonaß department store
Berlin, dismantling of the SED symbol on the front of the former ZK building on Werderschen Markt (January 1990)

In 1989 the Central Committee consisted of 165 members and 57 candidates. All high-ranking party and state officials in the GDR were represented in the Central Committee, provided they were members of the SED. From institute directors to general directors of important combines, the president of the Writers' Union, generals and well-deserved party veterans, all important officials were represented. Like the entire upper power hierarchy of the GDR, the Central Committee was male-dominated; the proportion of women has never exceeded 15 percent since 1950.

The General Secretaries or First Secretaries of the Central Committee of the SED were:

  • Walter Ulbricht , July 25, 1950 Secretary General, July 26, 1953 to May 3, 1971 First Secretary
  • Erich Honecker , May 3, 1971 First Secretary, May 22, 1976 to October 18, 1989 Secretary General
  • Egon Krenz , October 18, 1989 to December 3, 1989 Secretary General

The approximately ten Central Committee secretaries were assigned the total of 40 different departments of the Central Committee with full-time employees. In 1970 there were 1,000 employees, in 1987 there were already 2,000 employees. Each department was headed by a department head and his deputy, who were also influential positions in the GDR power apparatus. Each department was in turn divided into sectors with sector managers, employees and instructors.

Central Committee members and employees had free access to all state and party institutions, their own holiday homes and other privileges with their ID cards.

The Central Committee of the SED had its headquarters mainly in the Central Committee building , the house on Werderscher Markt in Berlin-Mitte .

The Central Committee was often referred to as a “small party congress” because it met several times a year between the actual party congresses and approved the work of the Politburo. While lively discussions were still taking place in the Central Committee under the 1st Secretary Ulbricht, under his successor Honecker this body met only very formally twice a year. Instead, the day-to-day work was done by the Politburo, a small group of secretaries from the Central Committee and other high-ranking party officials.

On the evening of October 16, 1989, Egon Krenz and Erich Mielke held preliminary talks for the removal of Honecker. At the meeting of the Politburo on October 17, 1989, Willi Stoph proposed the first item on the agenda: “Release of Comrade Honecker from his function as Secretary General and the election of Egon Krenz as Secretary General”. Günter Schabowski expanded the application and called for Honecker to be dismissed as Chairman of the State Council and Chairman of the National Defense Council. Alfred Neumann, in turn, also called for Günter Mittag and Joachim Herrmann to be replaced. The Politburo reached a unanimous decision. It was proposed to the Central Committee of the SED that Honecker, Mittag and Hermann be relieved of their functions. At the following Central Committee meeting, 206 members and candidates were present. The Central Committee followed the recommendation of the Politburo. In public it was said: "The Central Committee has granted Erich Honecker's request to release him from the position of General Secretary, from the office of State Council Chairman and from the position of Chairman of the National Defense Council of the GDR for health reasons." Egon Krenz was unanimously acclaimed elected new general secretary of the SED. On October 20, 1989, Margot Honecker also had to resign from her office. The last meeting of the Central Committee of the SED took place on December 3, 1989, at the Hans Albrecht , Erich Honecker, Günther Kleiber , Werner Krolikowski , Erich Mielke , Gerhard Müller , Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski , Horst Sindermann , Willi Stoph , Harry Tisch , Herbert Ziegenhahn and Dieter Müller were excluded from the party. Then the Politburo and the entire Central Committee resigned.

Politburo of the Central Committee

The important day-to-day work was done by the Politburo , a small circle of high-ranking party officials, consisting of 15 to 25 members and about ten candidates (without voting rights ), including the ten or so secretaries of the Central Committee. The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED also chaired the Politburo. The official government, the Council of Ministers of the GDR , only had to implement the decisions of the Politburo downwards through the ministries. The Council of Ministers was constantly monitored by the party committees, which ensured the “leading role of the party” according to the GDR constitution. The chairmen of the Council of Ministers and the President of the People's Chamber were, if SED members, also members of the Politburo.

In practice, only the extensive drafts drawn up by the secretariat and the departments of the Central Committee were mostly unanimously approved by the members, which had previously been sent to the members by courier for study of the files. In doing so, one relied mostly on the decision recommendation of the Politburo member responsible for the respective subject area, without talking to others in their subject area - especially if the Secretary General had already noted his consent on the template. Overall, only he could intervene. There were hardly any controversial discussions; the Secretary General reserved the final decision. In particular, voting on security issues was taboo; these were handled in strict confidence between the respective minister and the general secretary.

Senior cadres such as general directors, institute directors, ministers or state secretaries were summoned to defend their decision-making proposals on specific topics . The Politburo met every Tuesday from 10 a.m. for about two hours on the second floor of the Central Committee building. The meetings, which, according to Günter Schabowski, took place in a “classroom atmosphere” , were opened and closed by the Secretary General. Outside of the meetings and during the holiday period, resolutions were also passed by circulation procedure , that is, a signature folder was signed and approved by the members.

Commissions and working groups at the SED Politburo and their leaders:

There was a Politburo secretariat for supporting administrative work ; its directors were:

Central Committee Secretariat

Building of the Central Committee and Politburo of the SED 1959–1990 on Marx-Engels-Platz, Berlin-Mitte on Werderschen Markt in East Berlin (1967)

The Central Committee's secretariat met on Wednesdays to act as a planning staff to implement the Politburo's decisions made the day before and to prepare its next weekly meeting. It consisted of the secretaries of the Central Committee of the SED. The secretariat played a decisive role in the selection of the Central Committee nomenclature cadre, these were the approximately 300 highest positions in the party and state that were subject to approval by the Central Committee secretariat before they were filled.

The practical work was done by the various department heads and their employees. For example, the three departments of Agitation, Propaganda and Friendly Parties were subordinate to the Central Committee Secretary for Agitation and Propaganda . The agitation department was responsible for the organization and control of the mass media, as well as the most important censorship authority in the GDR .

Chairman of the SED

In contrast to other communist parties, which were only established according to the Stalinist model - after the death of chairman Lenin , Stalin expanded his office, that of general secretary , into a leadership position - the SED also basically knew the function of chairman. But right from the start, the real power lay with the Secretary General; In 1954 the office was abolished without replacement. In 1971 it was re-created as a powerless, symbolic office for Walter Ulbricht. After all, membership in the Politburo and important functions in the state were associated with him:

Role of the SED in society and domestic politics in the GDR

From their point of view , the declared political goal of the SED, the establishment and maintenance of the dictatorship of the proletariat , could only be ensured if all areas of society were subject to constant control and influence. With the doctrine of the leadership role of the party, it should be possible to let the threads of political, intellectual and economic life come together in the party's centers of power. Derived from the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels , this claim to leadership was ultimately anchored in the constitution of the GDR since 1968 (Section I, Chapter 1, Article 1):

"The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state [...] under the leadership [...] of its Marxist-Leninist party."

Role of the SED in international politics

In the early years, the SED's foreign policy primarily pursued the goal of recognizing the GDR as a sovereign state, later economic goals came to the fore. The SED pursued an entirely independent foreign policy within the spectrum of communist parties in Western Europe, with its own relations with the “brother parties”, unlike the Italian or French Communist Parties, for example, the SED did not allow itself any criticism of Moscow's foreign policy. The Italian Communist Party, for example, strongly criticized the Warsaw Pact's invasion of the CSSR in 1968 and the suppression of the Prague Spring , while the GDR under the government of the SED provided logistical support for the invasion. Relations between the SED and the Italian Communists suffered as a result, but for economic reasons and because of the campaign for recognition in Western Europe, the close relationships were maintained.


Development of membership numbers April 1946 to December 1987

At the time of the unification party convention, according to official statistics, there were 679,159 SPD members and 619,256 KPD members, so that the party reported 1,298,415. These numbers were questioned from the start, especially because around 200,000 former SPD members did not join the SED. Many tacitly through non-payment of the contribution, which means that they were further counted in the statistics. By September the number of members rose steadily to 1,766,198. In October 1947, the statistics began to be corrected to remove card files and as a result, the number of members decreased by 20,000 within the next year, despite more than 70,000 new members. Within the next year, the number of members fell by a further 169,944.

In the party leadership, on the one hand, they were concerned about the decline in membership, while, on the other hand, they did not want any uncontrolled growth. This was reflected in the two-year candidate period introduced in 1949 . Politically, it was intended to reduce the influence of old party cadres from the SPD and KPD. In fact, by the end of 1951, only less than 16% of the members of one of the predecessor parties or their youth organizations were politically organized in the labor movement before 1933 .

The SED was the first party in post-war Germany to open up to former National Socialists. On June 15, 1946, following a corresponding introduction by Wilhelm Pieck, the SED Central Secretariat took the new fundamental decision to accept the former members of the NSDAP, insofar as they were classified as "followers" during the denazification , into the SED and thus raised a corresponding incompatibility resolution on. With the decline in members from the labor movement, the proportion of those who were members of the NSDAP or one of its branches rose. At that time, 8.6% of the members and 9.3% of the candidates were former NSDAP members with a peak of 15.4% in the Erfurt district . There, including all former Nazi organizations, 35.8% of the SED members had a Nazi past.

At the beginning of the 1950s, the number of members continued to decline, with annual losses in the double-digit percentage range. Most were removed from the party list because they did not pay their membership fee. This was a popular option to quit tacitly, as it avoided inquisitorial questions about the reasons. The absolute low was reached in 1952 with 1,125,691 members.

Social structure of the SED (share in%)
year Workers farmers Employees "Intelligence"
1946 54.2 5.4 17.5 3.7
1947 49.5 6.0 19.1 4.1
1948 47.7 5.8 20.3 4.3
1949 45.9 6.0 20.6 4.9
1950 42.5 5.9 22.3 5.8
1951 41.2 4.6 29.3 4.5
1952 39.6 4.5 31.8 4.8
1953 39.0 4.5 32.4 5.2
1956 34.3 5.0 32.8 8.9
1959 33.7 5.3 33.2 8.8
1960 34.3 6.4 32.3 8.7

The social composition of the members was subject to major changes from the start. From 1946 the proportion of workers among the members, which in 1946 had been almost 55%, decreased considerably. In 1959, the share of white-collar workers was almost as high as that of blue-collar workers, also around a third. Although the membership recruitment among workers was continued intensively, the function of the SED as the dominant state and administrative party is evident. For them it was important that as far as possible all functions in administration and business were politically dominated by them. In order to give the appearance of a workers' party, full-time functionaries of the party and its organizations and also armed organs were listed as workers in the statistics from 1962 onwards, based on a secretarial resolution. Thus, this is not very meaningful for the following years. The party never succeeded in achieving a broader anchoring in the working class.

The proportion of women in the party, due to the German historical development, in which only a few women were organized in parties, was 21.5% in 1950 and, despite all attempts by the party leadership, could only increase it marginally to 23.5% by 1960 become. In its early years, like its predecessor parties, the SED was outdated in relation to the total population. Most of the parties were founded by old members from before 1933 and overall, the willingness of younger men to be politically active after war and often imprisonment was low, so that in 1946 only 8.8% of the members were younger than 30 years. After this value had increased to 16.7% by 1948, due to intensive recruitment of younger members, the relative number of younger members fell by 1960 to 9.3% of those up to 25 years of age, taking into account the entry date brought forward from 21 to 18. As it continued to exist, the SED succeeded in increasingly accepting younger members. In 1970 19.4% and in 1986 23.6% of the members were under 30 years of age. This can be attributed to the fact that party members had better social and professional opportunities for advancement. party functionaries in particular, who acted as political bureaucrats as state and business cadres, enjoyed material and immaterial advantages to which the majority of the population had no access.

In June 1971 the party had 1,909,859 members. In the following years, especially before party congresses, member recruitment was intensified and in 1975 there were over two million members and candidates for the first time. In 1987 the membership peaked at 2,328,331. That was roughly every sixth GDR citizen over the age of 18.

In 1989, the downward trend began to emerge in the first half of the year, when thousands of members had already quit. In summer this trend intensified with around 100,000 withdrawals between August and October. In a second wave of resignation in October / November, another 220,000 followed, before a real escape from the party began, in which a total of 907,480 left the SED by the end of January 1990.

Klaus Schroeder describes the GDR as the land of the “little people”, since people of bourgeois origin had little chance of advancement and therefore former “little people” ruled, especially at the management level. After their ascent they secured privileges for themselves and their class.

Everyday party life

The SED recently had around 2.3 million members. This was a very high proportion with around 8 million people in employment and 16.8 million people in the total population in the GDR. In doing so, the SED took its own claim to be regarded as the “ vanguard of the working classad absurdum . In 1981, 339,000 members, or 15 percent, were nomenclature cadres, that is, high-ranking party or economic functionaries.

In the GDR, the term The Party was used as a synonym for the SED and became a household word there .

In the late 1980s in the GDR, it became more and more difficult to get young people in particular to join the party due to the increasing contradictions between the social reality experienced and the theory that was proclaimed. While some wanted to promote professional advancement through party membership or were urged to do so - so it was suggested to master candidates to join the SED - it was especially difficult for those responsible to recruit the required number of workers. In the circles of artistic intelligence and in the medical profession, it was traditionally considered rather strange to be a “comrade”, but there, too, top positions were linked to a “commitment to the party”.

Around 44,000 full-time employees and 300,000 part-time employees worked for the SED, including 100,000 party secretaries, with at least the ordinary employees being paid just on average for a comparable business cadre.


New SED member receives his SED membership book (1951).
Party badge of the SED with buttonhole screwing

Admission to the SED took place from the age of 18. A written and reasoned application for membership as a “candidate of the SED” was required, which had to be supported by two guarantors who had been members of the SED for many years and who knew the applicant. The candidate period was one year for "working class people" and longer for others.

During this time, the candidate had the duty and the right to participate in all party meetings of the responsible basic organization without voting rights. Special candidate training took place and candidate assignments were often awarded. For example, they had the following form:

"Comrade XYZ ensures a high level of order in his department."

"Together with Comrade ABC, Comrade XYZ maintains contact with the sponsorship class and conducts two events as part of the sponsorship work."

"As a member of the combat group of the combine, Comrade XYZ fulfills all tasks assigned to him with high quality and operational readiness."

After the candidate period had expired, a vote was taken in the party group as to whether the candidate should be accepted as a member, which also resulted in rejections or an extension of the candidate period. However, this was very rare and often associated with criticism of the basic organization on the part of higher-level management. The candidate in question had to expect disadvantages and hostility in professional life.

For the admission, the membership of social classes or classes was definitely decisive. There were fixed membership relationships of workers, employees, cooperative farmers, members of the socialist intelligentsia , craftsmen and freelancers. While workers and cooperative farmers were allowed to join the " Workers' Party " SED with practically no restrictions , and even targeted advertising campaigns were carried out, it was sometimes difficult for members of the intelligentsia (especially teachers) to be accepted into the SED when they were Membership relationships were not found in the desired agreement. In some cases, these less desirable layers had to be content with candidate status for years. In 1986 58.2% of all members were classified as “workers”, but only 37.9% were actually production workers. Officially members of the intelligentsia were only 22.4% and retirees 14% of all members.

In practice, the most adventurous bends occurred in order to still be considered a desired worker. If the general manager started his career as a worker 40 years ago, he was considered a worker all his life.

If the new comrade was accepted, the documents, i.e. membership card, party program and party statute (two small red booklets, format approximately DIN A6) were ceremoniously handed over to the new comrade. The loss of the membership card “party document” was considered a gross misconduct, as it could fall into the hands of the “ class enemy ”, and was punished with at least one reprimand. In the early years, the comrades had to carry the ID with them at all times. In the hard times of the Cold War of the 1950s, there was even greater emphasis on party discipline, and the exclusion of the comrade in question would have been certain.

Resolutions were mostly passed unanimously after discussion; the party statute did not provide for abstention . The discussions became more and more monosyllabic from bottom to top, until at the party congresses all that was left to do was read out previously approved "discussion contributions" that had been submitted in writing.

End of membership

Membership in the SED ended through expulsion, resignation (deletion) or death . In fact, it was not possible to leave, as the apostate comrade in question was simply excluded beforehand. This was then referred to as deletion . Party penalties such as reprimand , strict reprimand and exclusion were imposed by the party control commissions at all party levels, which had to closely guard the “unity and purity” of the party.

Chair of the Central Party Control Commission (ZPKK) at the Central Committee of the SED:

"Moral wrongdoings" such as adultery , which was not worthy of a party member in public and personal life, were also punished with reprimands. A criminal conviction led to expulsion from the party.

year Party penalties Exclusions Deletions
1987 19,470 7,516 1,349
1988 22,998 10,849 1.956
Party book, last page with references.

A special way of losing your party membership was the exchange of party documents , which took place about every ten to fifteen years , that is, a new membership card was issued. This was connected with a comprehensive internal party discussion and “purification”, in which “unreliable” comrades did not return to the party; a “cold exclusion”, so to speak, followed by being deleted from the list of members. For example, between January and July 1951, around 22% of the members were excluded because of 'ideological immaturity'. The last exchange was planned for autumn 1989 shortly before the end of the GDR. It went hand in hand with personal discussions in the basic organizations. The autumn events canceled the exchange and no new party documents were issued. However, they were already present and exhibited in the district administrations.

Party meeting

As a member of the SED, you took part in the party group meetings or general meetings of the company party organizations (BPO) or, in the case of non-employed / pensioners, of the residential area party organizations (WPO). One could be elected and choose. Candidates only had an advisory vote. The meetings had an agenda and minutes of the meeting.

The party-internal and largely confidential bulletin, party information, served to inform the approximately 100,000 party secretaries . In the meetings, arguments about current events were often presented.

The party meeting took place every month in all companies on Mondays after the end of work, i.e. from around 5 p.m. and lasted one to two hours. It was only available to comrades and candidates. In exceptional cases, public meetings were held. In addition to the meetings of the basic organization, monthly meetings of the departmental party organization (APO) and the party apprenticeship year were held. In various basic organizations, such as SED district leadership, there were different times for the party meetings - for example Friday morning. A so-called workers' fight song was often sung there as an introduction. Members were expected to master the text.

Party apprenticeship year

Opening of the 4th year of party apprenticeship in 1953 in a company in Leipzig

The party apprenticeship year served the political and ideological training of the members and was carried out monthly. It was headed by a member of the party leadership of the basic organization or a trained propagandist . Events for the seminar leaders began centrally. Non-members also took part in the seminars if they held special management positions. For teachers there was a resolution of the union in which participation was compulsory for non-party members. From a range of topics, the party leadership selected the one that was important for the basic organization. Brochures to support the work at Dietz-Verlag were published in large numbers. This material was purchased by the participants of the apprenticeship year for the price of 1.60  marks .

Topic examples:

  • 1970/71: Lenin's theory of imperialism - key to understanding imperialism in its current stage of development
  • 1978/79: Theory and politics of the further shaping of the developed socialist society in the GDR
  • 1983/84: Basic tenets of Marxist-Leninist philosophy
  • 1985/86: Basic problems of the political economy of socialism and the economic strategy of the SED
  • 1987/88: Lenin's theory of imperialism

In addition to the party apprenticeship year, there was the argument of the week in the factories in the 1980s , short political training sessions for employees by a member of the SED commissioned to do so.

Party schools

The SED party schools were also organized hierarchically. At the lower end were the district party schools (KPS) with evening courses, then the delegation came to the district party schools (BPS, 1 year direct study), and at the top was the Karl Marx party college (PHS, 1 and 3 years study) in Berlin.

In the 1980s, 255 SED district schools and 478 company schools formed the basis of the training system. There the courses were completed alongside the job. At the 15 district party schools - for example in Schwerin , Rostock and Neubrandenburg - there were three-month or one-year full-time courses. At the district party school in Ballenstedt, for example, from 1956 to 1989 - that is, over a period of 33 years - more than 16,000 SED party members from the GDR districts of Halle (until 1989) and Magdeburg (until 1975) completed one-year courses. During the time of their studies, the course participants received 80 percent of their previous net salary as a scholarship.

Usually only those who had successfully completed the previous school could complete the next level. District and party college were also possible in distance learning . The graduation from the party college was a graduate social scientist . From 1950 to 1983, the rector of the party university was Hanna Wolf , who is known as particularly orthodox and has very close personal contacts with the general secretary.

Further institutions at the central level were the Institute for Marxism-Leninism at the Central Committee of the SED (IML) and the Academy for Social Sciences at the Central Committee of the SED. Its theoretical organ was the monthly Die Einheit . The Central Committee of the SED published the monthly Neuer Weg as material for current party work .

Alternatively, a delegation to visit the party college of the CPSU in Moscow was possible. Many cadres from all socialist countries and people 's democracies studied here for one or three years . The discussions were shaped from a much more open global perspective. Because of this stay in Moscow, many leading party cadres (from 1st district secretary upwards) spoke excellent Russian . Egon Krenz , for example, graduated with a degree in social science with a state examination .

Without attending a party college, it was practically impossible in the GDR to achieve a top position in the state or within the party, since professional and social qualifications for the “socialist leader” represented a unit.

SED assets and infrastructure

The SED had extensive assets, in particular infrastructural facilities such as party buildings, printing works, newspaper publishers, but also recreational facilities and other things. Furthermore, there were foreign assets that were used, among other things, to support sister parties in the West and the Third World, but also for secret service purposes, as well as around 160 registered party companies .

On June 1, 1990, the assets of the SED, which existed until August 1989, were transferred to the Independent Commission for the Review of the Assets of Parties and Mass Organizations (UKPV) and the Treuhandanstalt for examination and fiduciary management .

In various organizations, especially in the SED, but also in the other parties as well as in the mass organizations that are partly in the process of being dissolved, functionaries at various levels tried to "secure" the money stocks by passing the law or to embezzle it for private purposes. The SED's assets seized after the fall of the Wall alone amount to around 1.16 billion euros. According to a - not yet legally binding - judgment of the Higher Court of the Canton of Zurich on March 25, 2010, this includes 128,355,788 euros, which in 1992 disappeared without a trace from the accounts of the former GDR trading company Novum and its subsidiary Transcarbon. The sole shareholder of the two companies was the Austrian Rudolfine Steindling , known as "Rote Fini". She had the money paid out in cash from Bank Austria in 1991. As legal successor, Unicredit Bank Austria must compensate the Federal Republic of Germany for the damage.

Another example is the attempt by the PDS , known as the Putnik Deal , to move former SED assets abroad.

See also


Web links

Commons : Socialist Unity Party of Germany  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ballot: The results. In: SPD.Berlin. Retrieved July 8, 2018 .
  2. “Contemporary documents, which were not accessible for a long time, provide information about the extent to which opposition and reluctant Social Democrats were imprisoned, disciplined or intimidated by Soviet military services. File finds in Russian archives now also provide evidence of what could previously only be speculated about: the decision on the end of social democracy in eastern Germany was made in Moscow in January 1946. Party and state leader Stalin saw the elimination of the SPD as an important prerequisite for safeguarding Soviet security interests. According to his ideas, social democrats and communists should by no means compete against each other in the upcoming election campaigns, since a defeat of the KPD and thus the intermediary of Soviet occupation policy seemed inevitable. From the Soviet point of view, there was only one possibility for solving this problem: the inclusion of the Social Democrats in a unity party. ”Quotation from Andreas Malycha, Forced Association , FAZ of June 9, 2008, p. 10.
  3. Martin Broszat, Hermann Weber: SBZ manual: State administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany 1945-1949. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55262-7 , p. 418.
  4. Martin Broszat, Hermann Weber: SBZ manual. State administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany 1945–1949. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, p. 489.
  5. Andreas Malycha: 1948 - the year of change in the character of the SED? In: UTOPIE creative. Issue 96 (October) 1998, pp. 46-47.
  6. ^ Andreas Malycha: The SED. The story of their Stalinization 1946–1953. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2000, p. 136 ff.
  7. "The party statute was gradually eroded in 1946/47 in order to curtail the social democratic influence in the middle and lower party levels and to strengthen the centralization and thus the authority of the party leadership." Quoted from Andreas Malycha: 1948 - the year of the change in the character of the SED? In: UTOPIE creative. H. 96 (October) 1998, p. 47.
  8. ^ Andreas Malycha: The SED. The story of their Stalinization 1946–1953. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2000, p. 207 ff.
  9. ^ Hermann Weber: Decision-making structures in the SED leadership - Linking party and state in the GDR - Means and ways of Soviet influence at the end of the 1940s. In: Deutscher Bundestag (Ed.): Materials of the Enquete Commission “Working through the history and consequences of the SED dictatorship in Germany” (12th electoral period of the German Bundestag). Volume II, Part 1, pp. 421-431.
  10. "The statute adopted in 1946 was undermined when the organizational policy guidelines of December 1946 declared the operational group to be the decisive basic unit of the SED vis-à-vis the local group, and at the beginning of 1947 the district associations in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, which were stipulated as binding in the statute, were dissolved , In 1948 and 1949 the prescribed party congresses did not take place and instead a party conference took place in 1949, which was not provided for in the statutes. In addition, just a few months after the founding of the party, it became common practice to replace members of the most diverse management levels from the higher-level management or even to replace entire districts and local boards of the SED without an election act. "Quoted from Andreas Malycha: 1948 - the year of change in the character of the SED? In: UTOPIE creative. Issue 96 (October) 1998, p. 47.
  11. ^ Author collective: History of the SED . 1st edition. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1978, chapter 4.4, p. 199.
  12. Martin Broszat, Gerhard Braas, Hermann Weber (eds.): SBZ manual: State administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany 1945-1949. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1993, p. 501.
  13. ^ SED program, p. 106.
  14. ^ Hermann Weber : The GDR 1945-1990 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2006, p. 85.
  15. ^ Heike Amos: Politics and Organization of the SED Headquarters 1949–1963: Structure and working methods of the Politburo, Secretariat, Central Committee and Central Committee apparatus. LIT Verlag, Berlin / Hamburg / Münster 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6187-2 , p. 28.
  16. ^ Siegfried Suckut: Parties in the Soviet Zone / GDR 1945–1952. Federal Agency for Political Education, Bonn 2000, ISBN 3-89331-384-2 , p. 83.
  17. Martin Broszat, Gerhard Braas, Hermann Weber (eds.): SBZ manual. State administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany 1945–1949. 2nd Edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55262-7 , pp. 349-357.
  18. Jutta Braun, The Central Commission for State Control 1948–1953 - Commercial Criminal Law and Expropriation Policy, p. 9; in: The backstage of political criminal justice in the early years of the Soviet Zone / GDR, series of publications by the Berlin State Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former GDR, Volume 4, Berlin 2006.
  20. ^ PDS - SED. ( Memento from April 18, 2015 in the web archive ) at:
  22. "We are irrevocably breaking with Stalinism as a system!" - Speech by Michael Schumann at the Extraordinary Party Congress of the SED / PDS on December 16, 1989 in the Dynamo Sports Hall in Berlin ( Memento from April 20, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  23. Die Linke / PDS: Zur Geschichte der Linkspartei.PDS ( Memento from October 26, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) from January 26, 2006 on
  24. ^ Founding resolution of the DIE LINKE party. ( Memento from March 19, 2009 in the web archive ) Merger decision of the party congress
  25. Cf. the corresponding affidavit of the party's treasurer, Karl Holluba, reproduced in: Die Welt. April 29, 2009
  26. The "II. Party Congress "took place in Berlin from September 22 to 24, 1947 and had the following basic topics: economic and political unity of all of Germany, clarity about reparation payments, own foreign trade, referendum on the state system and central administrations in preparation for an all-German government, freedom of the press and freedom of publication, accelerated repatriation of prisoners of war; See historical time tables, German Democratic Republic , German Institute for Contemporary History (GDR), 1954.
  27. ^ Heike Amos: Politics and Organization of the SED Headquarters 1949–1963: Structure and working methods of the Politburo, Secretariat, Central Committee and Central Committee apparatus. , LIT Verlag, Berlin / Hamburg / Münster 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6187-2 , p. 65.
  28. Manfred Uschner, The Second Floor. How a power apparatus works , Dietz, Berlin 1993, p. 70.
  29. ^ Andreas Malycha, Peter Jochen Winters: History of the SED. From the founding to the Left Party . Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2009, p. 123.
  30. Francesco Di Palma: Conflict and Normalization. SED and PCI before the challenge of the Prague Spring (1968–1970) , in: Work - Movement - History , Issue II / 2017, pp. 128–144.
  31. a b c d e f g h Andreas Malycha, Peter Jochen Winters: The SED - History of a German Party. CH Beck, 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-59231-7 , pp. 409-416.
  32. Contemporary history: For honest cooperation In: Der Spiegel. 19/1994, May 9, 1994, pp. 84-91.
  33. ^ After 1945: How the SED purposefully wooed Nazi followers In: Berliner Morgenpost. March 15, 2012.
  34. ^ Andreas Malycha, Peter Jochen Winters: The SED - History of a German Party. CH Beck, 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-59231-7 , p. 413.
  35. a b Klaus Schroeder : The SED state. History and structures of the GDR 1949–1990. completely revised and greatly expanded new edition. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21109-7 , pp. 909/910.
  36. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. History and structures of the GDR 1949–1990. completely revised and greatly expanded new edition. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21109-7 , pp. 917/918.
  37. See a song text by Louis Fürnberg , 1950 ( The Song of the Party ).
  38. Uwe Hoßfeld et al. (Ed.): University in socialism. Studies on the history of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Volume 1, Böhlau, Cologne 2007, p. 502.
  39. For the party apprenticeship year see Mark Allinson: The party apprenticeship year of the SED - field of conflict between party leadership and mass base. Basics, goals and problem areas (= "hefte zur gdr-geschichte", issue 129), Helle Panke, Berlin 2013.
  40. Michael Bluhm: The SED party schools in the Gorbachev era , , June 4, 2016.
  41. ^ Final report of the Independent Commission for the Examination of the Assets of Party and Mass Organizations in the GDR. (PDF; 1.03 MB) Federal Ministry of the Interior , July 5, 2006, accessed on January 3, 2020 .
  42. Andreas Mihm: Compensation for SED money laundering , in: FAZ of March 27, 2010.