Use of language in the GDR

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Under language in the GDR linguistic expressions are summarized in the lexis and stylistics only or especially in the Democratic German Republic were in use. This summary includes terms used in everyday language as well as expressions defined by the state or used in the media that were customary until 1990 and have survived in individual cases to this day.

The term typical of the GDR

A lexeme or syntagma can be typical of the GDR in various ways.

Terms that were only used in the GDR area

Lexemes in this group were only used in their form and meaning in the GDR. This group includes words such as broiler , combine , plastic , brigade , tractor driver , whereby a delimitation from the “western term” is intended. Some words such as Brigade were used in the rest of the German-speaking area, but with a completely different meaning or in the special vocabulary.

Lexical units typical of the GDR

In the GDR words were often only becomes typical from the German-speaking world by being linked to new forms and new meaning given such as people and bookstore to popular bookstore , youth and life to youth life , or hero and work to Hero of Labor . The new forms were often translations from Russian . Examples are stennaja gaseta translated to wall newspaper or dom kultury translated to house of culture (later developed to culture house ). A well-known example of the adoption from Russian was also the mass political work , which was set instead of the political mass work , since in Russian word compositions are more likely to be formed by adjectival additions.

GDR-typical education

These collocations were often created for the GDR as typical catchwords and terms through the peculiar combination of verbs with prepositions and nouns . One example is the well-known verb delegieren, which was formed in the GDR-typical form with a preposition and noun zu delegieren to university studies .

Ideological recolouration of terms

Established terms such as land reform , for example, were brought into a certain ideological form through additions. Land reform ... democratic transformation in the country ... people owned goods were created . Certain terms were firmly defined according to the ideology of the SED , for example progressive was used in the sense of advocating for socialism ; party was understood in the sense of for socialism, in the sense of the socialist party .

GDR-typical vocabulary

In the GDR there were also words and idioms that were replaced by new forms in the Federal Republic due to the linguistic development there. These traditional lexemes used in the GDR included addressing them by letter as worth : Dear colleague , dear gentleman , dear citizen (today generally perceived as derogatory and has disappeared from general use) or dulli files (superseded by the term folder ). In addition, older forms of expression, such as sideboard , and words that related to the GDR reality, such as plan , but also originated from earlier times, lasted considerably longer .

On the other hand, vocabulary typical of the GDR has also become common use, such as Ampelmännchen , also as an umbrella term for its numerous modifications.

List of GDR-typical words and new creations

The following list, which is an alphabetical collection, contains mixed terms that can be further distinguished.

  • Terms that were used to designate existing facts without upgrading or devaluing them. Examples: Broilers, department stores, wall newspapers, social policy measures, baby year, marriage loan.
  • Terms, the use of which denotes line loyalty or a communicative forced situation. Examples: Comrade, class enemy, ours (should emphasize national property and community as in “our German Democratic Republic”).
  • Terms whose use made irony clear to the system. Examples: Bückware , ox-head antenna , valley of the unsuspecting . The other terms were also occasionally used in this way through appropriate exaggeration.

Temporal, spatial and situational differences, in which sense the terms were used, are also possible.

For abbreviations see List of Abbreviations (DDR) . For brand names see list of brand names and products in the GDR .



Akten-Dulli (ca.1950)

(to next letter - B)

  • childbearing - couples were granted an interest-free marriage loan of up to 5000 Marks - later 7000 Marks - at the time of marriage . When one or more children were born, the loan amount to be paid was either reduced (for the first child by 1,000 marks, for the second child by a further 1,500 marks) or was considered to be repaid when the third child was born.
  • Delivery target - a certain amount of plant and animal products to be handed over by a company that is obliged to deliver to state registration and purchase companies. The opposite was the free peak , i.e. the production that exceeded the delivery target and could be freely sold - usually at higher proceeds.
  • Agrochemical Center - inter-cooperative or community facility for the large-scale application of chemical products in several farms
  • Agronomist - senior worker in agriculture, agricultural engineer
  • Section authorized person (ABV) - People's police officer with responsibility for a specific residential area.
  • acrobatic folk dancer - official language for break dancers , see also hip-hop in the GDR
  • Aktendulli - original obtained in the GDR remaining term for the filing strip
  • Activist - worker who achieves extraordinary achievements in fulfilling the plan and is honored for this with the state title Activist of Socialist Labor ; see also activist movement
  • General list of goods - up to 1967 in the GDR common product classification; assigned a commodity number to all goods imported or produced in the GDR
  • Old new building - first, traditionally brick-built apartment blocks of the GDR housing construction until around 1970 in contrast to the new buildings in large panel construction
  • Collection of waste materials - collection of secondary raw materials (waste paper, used textiles and glasses), mostly by children
  • Aluminum chips - disparaging for the aluminum small change
  • Outpatient clinic - small polyclinic
  • Antifascist protective wall - name of the Berlin Wall
  • Workers' Festival - folk festival of socialist culture
  • Workers and farmers state - official expression for GDR
  • Workers-and-Peasants Inspection - control body to secure party and government decisions
  • Workers' locker - colloquial, derogatory for prefabricated apartment
  • Worker veteran - contemporary witness for the political development of the working class
  • Ashes - colloquial for National People's Army , especially in zum Assche = must be drafted
  • Upswing ellipse - derogatory term for the (career-promoting) elliptical SED party badge
  • Departure application - application for permanent departure , which meant legally and permanently leaving the GDR


Vacation camp of VEB Carl Zeiss Jena 1951

(to the next letter - C) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Baby year - Similar to parental leave, there was one year of paid leave from work for the mother after the birth of a child.
  • Bärendreck - colloquially for the Motodix sealant
  • Construction machinist - apprenticeship for construction machinery operator
  • Construction soldier , spade soldier or “Spati” - member of the building units of the National People's Army and the only possibility to refuse to use the weapon
  • Demand shortage , demand gap - official names for supply gaps in retail
  • Makeshift label - label without graphic design if there was a bottleneck in label production
  • Advice sample - Unsaleable display item in the furniture store or in the household appliances department
  • Berlin, capital of the GDR - Official name of the capital
  • Berlin ban - colloquial for a "residence restriction" according to §§ 51f. GDR StGB for the area of ​​the "capital of the GDR"
  • Best worker - company award with certificate for "excellent work results in fulfilling the socialist plan"
  • Operation Summer camps - summer camp , organized by the establishments for the children of their employees
  • Bees - colloquially for commendation stamps (representing a bee) used by teachers in notebooks by 1st grade students, also used jokingly in other situations: There is a bee for that!
  • Blue tiles - colloquially jokingly for Westgeld , based on the 100 DM note (also flamed tiles , colorful notes , also used for Genex and forum checks )
  • Blue Eminence - slang ironic name of the minister of education Margot Honecker , so called because of her distinctive blue-violet hair tint, also purple dragon or purple witch
  • Blauer Klaus , Blauer Würger - colloquially for the spirit Klarer “Juwel” , cheap clear schnapps with a blue label
  • Recorders - ironic term for the block parties and their members (turning point)
  • Bonbon - ironic name for the SED party badge
  • Bonner Ultras - term used by SED propaganda from around 1960 to the beginning of the 1970s for West German politicians who were assessed as particularly reactionary
  • Board sails - the official name for windsurfing
  • Brigade - the smallest collective in the production process, a working group responsible for a specific area
  • Brigadier - head of a brigade
  • Broilers , also called gold broilers - fried chickens
  • Brother countries - term for socialist ('like-minded') countries
  • Bückware - coveted items that were not on the shelves, but hidden under the counter from the view of the buyer (and to which the seller had to bend down)
  • Bundi - residents from the Federal Republic of Germany


(to the next letter - D) . . . (to the top of the list)


(to the next letter - E) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Dacha ( Russian дача) - weekend or summer house in the countryside ( gazebo ), often bungalow called
  • Dederon - trade name for polyamide (FRG: Perlon, USA: nylon) - used for stockings, bags , smock aprons and other items of clothing, an artificial word from the pronounced acronym DDR and "on".
  • Delikatladen - certain grocery stores, set up around the end of the 1970s, also known as “Deli” or “Fress-Ex” (see “Exquisit”) in everyday language.
  • Delicate herring , also deli herring - Bismarck herring , as references to the former German Chancellor were frowned upon in the GDR
  • Service cube- supply facility with a combination of different service companies in the form of a compact, cuboid structure
  • Dispatcher - head of operations, coordinator, dispatcher, administrator, usher in restaurants, supervisory and information personnel; was probably used as an English foreign word in Russian and adopted from there with the corresponding job profiles; the word was also known in West German usage, but there much less often and with a narrower meaning.
  • Diversant - an agent , saboteur or 'disruptor' (from the expression " ideological diversion " for the intrusion of Western ideas)
  • Dreierhopp - athletic exercise in which you jump three times with the same ankle "one-legged" without running. The jumper lands with both legs after the third jump; also in use today in western Germany


Palace of the Republic, "Erich's lamp shop" (1976)

(to the next letter - F) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Edescho - E richs De visen scho ner - ironic name for the “coffee mix”, a mixed coffee type with 50 percent substitute coffee offered during the coffee crisis in the GDR , alluding to the western brand Eduscho
  • Marriage loan - interest-free loan of up to 5,000, later 7,000 marks for newly married couples, repayable depending on the number of children born
  • Honorary service - military service in the armed organs of the GDR
  • Submission - complaint, petition
  • One-dash-no-dash - slang term for strichtarn , a camouflage pattern for military combat suits and equipment
  • Active parents - parents 'representatives elected by the parents' assembly of the students in a class as a support group for school events. A corresponding body at school level was the parents' council , in which one parent from each class was represented.
  • Erichs Krönung - joking name of the powder coffee blend "Coffee Mix" during the coffee crisis in the GDR , alluding to the Western brand " Jacobs Krönung "
  • Erich's lamp shop - a popular, ironic name for the Palace of the Republic due to its striking interior lighting in the main foyer
  • Harvest captain - ideologically elevated term for combine harvester drivers (of both sexes), especially during the labor-intensive period of the harvest battle
  • Achievement - progress on the way to a socialist society
  • Food money sneaker, also food money runabout , Pittiplatsch-Latschen or Stoffidas - a joke term for soft sports shoes made of fabric with a rubber sole; the name came about because of the price of the sneakers (2.75 marks), which corresponded to the (almost everywhere the same) weekly meal allowance for school meals (0.55 marks per lunch) and based on Pittiplatsch or derived from Adidas
  • Exquisite , also ex-store or just ex -store chain for high-priced clothing and cosmetics, to skim off excess cash, analogous to delicatessen stores


(to the next letter - G) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Flag - colloquial for National People's Army, especially in the flag = must be drafted or with the flag = with the army
  • Driving license - not only the authorization to drive a car, like all of Germany, but also the driving license document
  • After-work brigade - a group of paid workers who do manual work in the evenings and on weekends to compensate for the shortage of craftsmen (not with Subbotnik , which was free of charge)
  • After -work home - retirement home
  • Holiday games - offer of leisure activities during the holidays at the place of residence - mostly in schools supervised by teachers - for children whose parents did not have a vacation
  • Company (Horch & Guck, also Horch, Guck & Greif) - ironic term for the Ministry of State Security
  • Fluidoplasts - macromolecular substances
  • Form designer - profession of handicraft or fine arts, graduate of a technical school for applied arts
  • Forum checks - from 1979 GDR citizens had to exchange foreign currency for forum checks in orderto be able to shopin the Intershop . Also used as a “second currency” for craftsmen's services and effective tips. A well-known joke was the saying attributed to the craftsmen: "FORUM is it possible?"
  • Women's rest room - rooms in companies in which women, especially pregnant women, could rest.
  • Free peak - the amount of plant and animal products that exceeded the delivery target and - mostly for higher proceeds - could be freely sold.
  • Exposure of living space - paraphrase for state influence on the termination and re-establishment of tenancies
  • Volunteers of the border troops - those willing to help prevent attempts to escape from the GDR
  • Volunteers of the People's Police - civilians in the service of the German People's Police
  • the friends - term for Soviet soldiers and Soviet citizens as representatives of the Soviet Union in the GDR, could also have an ironic undertone
  • Freund der Jugend - a person who left the FDJ for reasons of age (> 27 years) , but who remained a member of the organization voluntarily and paid contributions, but no longer entitled to vote, and who took part in training courses and meetings, not to be confused with youth friend
  • Friendship ! - FDJ greeting, with which FDJ meetings and from the 8th grade (often, but not uniformly) lessons were started; This is also common at roll call events
  • Peace Rider - Participant in the International Peace Ride
  • Early and late point of sale - point of sale for groceries, which was also open in the morning and evening hours and on weekends


(to the next letter - H) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Feast of the Sea - Name of thefish restaurants operatedby the trade organization (HO) (end of 1989 at 33 locations).
  • Security - "Social security", "Security in old age" - phrase used in party agitation, especially in print media and billboards (for example on the occasion of anniversaries and elections).
  • Walking aid , also Zwickau walking aid - jokingly for the Trabant
  • Comrade - salutation for members of the SED, but also the official salutation for members of the police and army in connection with the rank (e.g. comrade Wachtmeister )
  • Social activity - voluntary work
  • Permitted production - term for the production of western branded articles in the GDR
  • Beverage support point - point of sale for beverages that was often open in the evenings and on weekends.
  • Goldbroiler , broiler - term for grilled chicken
  • Golden house number - award for exemplary house communities
  • Golden West (also ironic) - West Germany
  • Goldi - Goldbrand, spirit made from agricultural alcohol and caramel with added brandy
  • Grilletta - term for hamburger
  • Big brother - ironic for the Soviet Union.
  • Group council chairman - position within the pioneer organization as head of the group council of the pioneers of a school class
  • Rubber eagle - ironic term for broilers .


(to the next letter - I) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Hamster hook , hamster claw - trailer coupling on the carto pullthe Klaufix
  • Trade organization - ( short: HO ), state-owned retail company and largest retail chain in the GDR
  • Loss of trade also transport disruption - terms that should describe the disappearance of goods from warehouses or store rooms in shops that has not been recorded by the company, due to unrecorded storage removals, damage or theft, i.e. loss .
  • House book , registration book in every home by - House steward out
  • Household - the inhabitants of larger apartment buildings were used as collective considered and the household line represented
  • Household day - an additional day off every month for married working women, working women with children, working single women over 40 and working single men or those with a wife in need of care
  • Home bomb - an ironic name for the television sets of the Soviet brand Raduga (which tend to ignite )
  • Hero of Work - Honorary title for "special merits in the construction and victory of socialism"
  • (VEB) Horch und Guck (also Horch, Guck und Greif) - popular and ironic term for the Ministry for State Security
  • One hundred and fifty percent - term for loyal supporters of the party and the Marxist-Leninist doctrine


(to the next letter - J) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Interhotel - hotel chain of the upper class, in which visitors from the "non-socialist foreign countries" were preferably accommodated and in which partlyhad to be paidwith foreign exchange (western currency, also called freely convertible currency ).
  • Interest in auto tourism - popular disguising formula in marriage notices sought out for male car owners, often used ironically
  • Intershop - where Western Youth and products of stores, licensed production against foreign exchange and Forum Check was sold
  • Intertank - petrol stations accessible to everyone on motorways and in large cities, where special petrol pumps also offered 91 octane (special) and 98 octane (super) fuel for foreign exchange. Vehicles from non-socialist countries were only allowed to be refueled at these pumps and were not given any fuel for GDR currency.
  • in a nutshell - malt coffee


(to the next letter - K) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Year-end bonus - Christmas bonus
  • Youth Brigade - a brigade with a relatively low average age andconsistingmainly of FDJ members
  • Youth friend - official salutation for a member of the FDJ , also often used ironically (like "Sports friend")
  • Youth fashion , often just Jumo - HO store chain that offered a special range for young people (primarily clothing, but also cosmetics)
  • Young pioneers and Thälmann pioneers , generally also called young pioneers - the members of the GDR's state children's organization


Official photo of a rural consumer store

(to the next letter - L) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Manager - HR manager, see also Kader
  • Cascadeur - stuntman
  • Checkout - get sick leave
  • Department store - supermarket
  • Ketwurst - modified form of the hot dog
  • Children's combination - supply facility consisting of a day nursery and kindergarten
  • Klappfix - Camping Tourist Trailer: Car trailer with tent structure; also ironic for members of the Stasi because of their landscape format, fold-out ID card
  • Class enemy - the capitalist states and their governments, namely those of the Federal Republic of Germany and the USA.
  • Klaufix - car trailer
  • Club of intelligence - Club of Culture of the GDR, the integration of the layer of intelligence served
  • Kochklopse , Kapernklopse , Saußklopse - often for Königsberger Klopse , jokingly also Kaliningrader Klopse
  • Physical culture - official language for bodybuilding , but hardly used among athletes.
  • Kolkhoz - a derogatory term for an Agricultural Production Cooperative (LPG) ( "on the collective farm work") from the Russian name kolkhoz for large agricultural operation (short for "collective farm") derived
  • Kolja (from the Russian first name Nikolai ) - Soviet citizen, Soviet soldier (not necessarily derogatory)
  • Collective - working group , team
  • Kombinat - a merger of (VEB) companies comparable to a group, see also Volkseigener Betrieb
  • Combine - agricultural machine with several functions, such as combine harvester, harvester
  • Communiqué - government statement ("they discussed questions of interest on both sides")
  • Complex brigade - a brigade made up of employees from various professions, often in film and television productions
  • Complex acceptance point - central facility that should offer almost all possible repair and cleaning services in the household
  • Conflict Commission - social court in the socialist administration of justice
  • Konspect , the; Summary, table of contents of a (scientific) text; inspired by Soviet Russian usage конспе́кт
  • Konsum (emphasis on the first syllable) - brand of the consumer cooperatives of the GDR, in everyday life a general name for grocery stores
  • Consumer - department store chain of the GDR consumer cooperatives
  • Cosmonaut - space traveler, based on the usual Russian term космонавт ( kosmonavt )
  • Krusta - pizza version of the GDR gastronomy
  • Cultural workers - artists, writers, poet workers, musicians, painters, actors ... and sometimes the party's cultural officials.
  • Kumpeltod , also Kali -Fusel - excise - free drinking brandy for miners with an alcohol content of 32%, which was only given out to miners as a deputation wage on receipts (highly valued in bartering)
  • Scouts of Peace - term for a spy on one's own side


German and Polish schoolgirls at work in a tree nursery

(to the next letter - M) . . . (to the top of the list)


(to the next letter - N) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Mighty mighty - colloquially high praise (quote from Benny from the popular Olsen Gang series of films )
  • Malimo - fabric, stitched fabric, the name is an artificial name and stands for Ma uersberger Lim bach- O berfrohna .
  • Mamai method - breakdown of the work schedule to the respective workplace and day based on the example of the Soviet innovator Nikolai Jakowlewitsch Mamai . Objective: To encourage the working people to fulfill the plan on a daily basis and, if possible, to over-fulfill them.
  • Mass process - Big Data project of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi)
  • mlWA - Abbreviation for " Marxist-Leninist Weltanschauung ", z. B. in marriage announcements.
  • Mausefix - joking name, based on Klappfix (see above), for an open (self-made) car trailer that was mainly used to transport building materials, wood and potatoes (sometimes illegally). Derived from "mausen" (steal). Corresponding hand and bicycle carts were also called Klaufix .
  • Mouse hook - colloquially for a trailer coupling on a car , also called hamster hook or organizing claw
  • MMM - Fair of the Masters of Tomorrow - Youth Research Competition
  • Letters from authorities, party organizations and government agencies ended with socialist greetings
  • Mobilization of reserves - the phrase used by party agitation in order to conceal the causes of economic problems (mostly organizational deficiencies and lack of work equipment) and to divert guilt to an alleged or actual lack of work motivation
  • Muttiheft - colloquially, a small notebook for messages from kindergarten or school to parents


New building area in Berlin-Marzahn in 1987

(to the next letter - O) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Local recreation facility - a facility for recreation, sport and leisure activities in the vicinity (such as sports fields, swimming pools, excursion restaurants)
  • NATO tarpaulin, NATO cowl - slang term for nylon coats that were modern in the 1960s and only existed through Western relations
  • NAW - National Reconstruction, more or less voluntary, unpaid work
  • New building area - in West Germany known as " Plattenbau ", residential areas built according to the modular construction method with 3 to 22-storey residential buildings and associated supply facilities
  • Newer - inventor in a company who brought usable suggestions for cost savings or improved production methods ( new German: operational inventiveness)
  • Non-Socialist Economic Area (NSW) - synonym for capitalist countries
  • Nicki - T-Shirt ; also in West German usage, where "Nicki" refers to a light sweater, often with a buttoned collar or made of synthetic fiber .
  • Rivet (s) pants - term for jeans
  • Zero-seven glass jacketed bullet - originally NVA soldier jargon, later colloquial for a bottle of schnapps


(to the next letter - P) . . . (to the top of the list)


Students from the Luther School in Gera visit the first youth observatory in the GDR in the House of Pioneers in Gera
Plastic production per capita

(to the next letter - R) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Cardboard - colloquially for the Trabant because of its body , which was largely made of hard paper . Furthermore, the official eligibility to play for bands or individual musicians and the associated ID was referred to as cardboard. Also designation for the driving license.
  • The party - colloquially for the SED (a certain article always meant the SED and not a bloc party )
  • Party document - membership book of the SED
  • party - taking the ideological positions of Marxism-Leninism, ' orthodox '
  • Sponsor brigade , sponsor company - school classes and kindergartens, but also units of the NVA usually had sponsorship contracts with companies or their departments (some of which can still be found after reunification). The counterpart was then called the godfather class .
  • Pioneer - see " Young Pioneers and Thälmann Pioneers "
  • Pioneer Railway - Name for a park railway operatedby pioneers and FDJers , also abbreviated as Pibahn
  • Pionierhaus - culture house, in which events, working groups and freely usable areas and / or leisure facilities for children were located, in smaller places often also "station for young naturalists and technicians" or similar.
  • Pioneer birthday - the day the pioneer organization was founded (December 13th), was celebrated in the schools
  • Pioneer camp , pioneer holiday camp - sometimes a common term for children's holiday camps
  • Pioneer leader , friendship pioneer leader - functionary of the FDJ at a school, usually young teachers or educators with special training; teachers or FDJ members of the upper classes were activeas group pioneer leaders
  • Pioneer afternoon - usually in cooperation with the school organized afternoons for pioneers, where pioneer meetings or activities such as disco, handicrafts, slide shows, etc. Waste materials accumulate held
  • Plastering coll. f., n., correct pl. - New German plastic , plastic , chemical material , technically also: Polymers , divided into plastomers and elastomers , from which "plastics" and " elastomers " are derived.
  • Plastic bags , plastic bag - plastic carrier bag
  • be placed - in some restaurants the guests were led to the table by the waiter. At the entrance the guests were informed by a sign: Please wait, you will be seated!
  • Polyclinic - outpatient treatment centers with employed specialists from various specialties
  • Overhead projector - that have become the property name brand of the single overhead projector (overhead projector) from GDR production
  • Polytechnische Oberschule - general education ten-class unified school
  • Pop gymnastics - term for rhythmic exercises to music in groups or individually, comparable to aerobic exercises or jazz dance
  • Post rental container - cardboard box with removable lid for sending as a package, could be borrowed from the post office against a deposit
  • Prena tape - a brand name that has become a product name for a transparent adhesive tape (analogous to scotch tape ), stands for Moritz Prescher Successor KG .


Hungarian Ikarus omnibuses had a distinctive design that earned them many nicknames

(to the next letter - S) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • rabotten - (hard) to work (from Russian: работать (rabotať) = to work)
  • Rocket - colloquially ironic term for Hungarian buses of the type Ikarus 55 and Ikarus 66 , so called because of the striking design of the body and the engine-like cladding of the rear engine
  • (Three) room apartment - (three) room apartment
  • Rationalization means construction (also Ratiomittelbau ) - operation or workshop for the production of technical rationalization means .
  • Travel cadre - person from public life, e.g. B. Scientists, politicians, functionaries, company executives who regularly travel abroad. A distinction was made between travel cadres for NSW abroad and the socialist economic area.
  • Reconstruction - renovation, renewal, refurbishment
  • Racing cardboard - jokingly for the Trabant (see also cardboard )
  • Rennsteigbeatles - sarcastic term for the instrumental group of the popular Suhl folk musician Herbert Roth , also known as forest and meadow beatles
  • Pensioners Volvo - colloquially ironic name for a shopping bag on wheels, with a mocking reference to the often Volvo 240 propelled nomenklatura
  • Red light irradiation - a derisive term for political indoctrination in the form of courses
  • Rundholz - colloquially joking for the upscale alternative to the blue strangler. 16-round wood was a Romanian brandy "Arad" (0.5 l) at 16 marks, 22-round wood was a German brandy "Amitié" (0.7 l) at 22 marks
  • Russenmagazin - colloquial for the shops for members of the Soviet Army and their families, in which GDR citizens could also shop; based on the Russian term магазин (magasin) = shop
  • go over - colloquially leave the GDR in the direction of the west, be educated: someone has been taken over, and has run away


Arrival of a special train from Bad Schmiedeberg with musicians and fanfare trains for the III. Children's and Youth Spartakiad 1970
A wall with Sprelacart cladding in a Russian sleeping car

(to the next letter - T) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Record entertainer - officially for DJ (disk jockey)
  • look - cool, super (youth language)
  • Arbitration Commission - social court of the "socialist administration of justice"
  • Key technology - this mostly meant information technology , computer science and microelectronics
  • Rapid Medical Help (SMH) - translation of the Russian "скорая медицинская помощь"; in West German "ambulance service"
  • Rest place / rest work place - after a long sick leave or pregnancy, a place of work with less physical demands where you could continue to work
  • Schrottgorod - colloquially ironically formed with Russian город = city, jokingly for Eisenhüttenstadt , also: tin can city
  • Quality of protection - quality feature for products and processes relating to protection against hazards. The requirements and the procedures for determining them were comprehensively regulated by law. Approximately corresponds to the German and EU term product safety.
  • Termination of pregnancy - termination of pregnancy
  • Dizziness rate - official name of the market exchange rate between DM and Mark of the GDR in West Berlin
  • Section - A term used at universities and colleges for today's departments since the 1970s
  • SERO, Sero - short for secondary raw materials (recyclable waste and packaging such as waste paper, bottles and glasses) and the name of a company with a number of collection points for these items
  • For peace and socialism - be ready! - Always ready! - Greetings from the Young and Thälmann pioneers
  • Silastik - elastic synthetic fiber fabric, for example for sportswear
  • Safety pin - contemptuous expression for an IM (unofficial employee) of the Stasi
  • Visual element - poster, poster display , billboard, board for solutions or the like
  • Solyanka - a soup made according to a Russian recipe, was offered in many restaurants
  • Solyanka bowl - ironic name for Zaporoshez
  • Socialist property - umbrella term for public property , cooperative property and the property of mass organizations
  • socialist reproduction - theory about the overall economic process of socialist society in connection with the constant renewal, expansion and development of its material basis of life
  • Spartakiad - child and youth spartakiad ; Sports competition for children and young people in schools, at district and district level as well as in the final stages across the GDR; also served the "talent scouting" and recruiting young talent in sport in the GDR
  • Bacon bin - a kind of early organic bin for leftover food to be fed to pigs
  • Goatee - a joking name for Walter Ulbricht
  • Sport free - greetings from the athletes
  • SpoWa (female) - Abbreviation for "Sportwaren", a department store in every major city, in which primarily sportswear (core brand Germina ) and camping supplies, but also clothing for young pioneers and FDJers were sold
  • Sprelacart - GDR brand name for Resopal , known in particular for the kitchen furniture coated with it
  • Citizenship (also abbreviated to Stabü or Stabi among pupils) - school subject for political education
  • State revenues - revenues and profits from the state-owned economy and state institutions and bodies, as well as tax revenues and social security contributions from non-state-owned enterprises, cooperatives, citizens
  • State Council submission or State Council complaint - petition to the State Council of the GDR
  • State Security (also abbreviated Stasi , die) - Short name for the Ministry for State Security , Intelligence Service and Secret Police of the GDR
  • Cityscape explainer - city guide
  • Stamp card - colloquially for an insert card in the driver's license on which the traffic police have put up to four stamps for more serious traffic violations. When the fifth stamp was issued (within the expiry period), a driving ban followed. New stamps extended the validity of old stamp entries. Two years after the last stamp, you could have a new, blank stamp card issued.
  • Street of the Best - there were portraits of the best in the socialist competition in factories
  • Chair dance - the variant of the game Reise nach Jerusalem, common in the GDR .
  • Subbotnik - (not always completely) voluntary, unpaid work, mostly on Saturday ( Russian суббота = Saturday)
  • Synthetic material with leather-like properties (SML) - term for artificial leather (shoes)


Taiga drum - DR class 120 diesel locomotive with a loud engine noise

(to the next letter - U) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • T 34-Sport - name for the Saporoshez passenger car
  • Täve - nickname of Gustav-Adolf Schur , the most popular sports personality in the GDR
  • Taiga drum - colloquially ironic term for the diesel locomotives of the DR class 120 from the Soviet Union because of their loud, voluminous humming engine noise
  • Valley of the clueless - slang term for the Dresden area , where the " Westfernsehen " could not be received due to the valley location and the distance, hence the joking abbreviations ZDF = Central German Television, ARD = "except Dresden area" or "except Rügen and Dresden "
  • Technologist - engineer or technician in the field of production planning / work preparation
  • Technology - department or area in a VEB for the organization of production and work preparation
  • Timur Aid - based on the story of Timur and his troop from Arkadi Gaidar .
  • Toniwagen - patrol car of the German People's Police (mainly the Soviet Marka Lada )
  • Towarishch - joking form of address; based on the Russian term товарищ = comrade or comrade
  • Trabi or Trabbi - colloquial for Trabant
  • Tractorist - apprenticeship in driving agricultural machinery
  • TraPo - transport police, they performed police duties on railway systems
  • Sponsoring company - a publicly owned company (VEB) committed to cultural and sports politics or a corresponding state administration
  • Chekist - from Russian; official name for employees of the MfS , based on the Soviet model Cheka


(to the next letter - V) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Union friend - member of the CDU in the GDR
  • Vacation ship - cruise ship
  • urst - youth language instead of very or "awesome" ("Is yes urst", "That was urst look", "He's a very first customer ")


(to the next letter - W) . . . (to the top of the list)


Wall newspaper of the Leipzig securities printing company
West car on Stalinallee 1954

(to the next letter - Z) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Wall newspaper - pin board in schools and companies, which, depending on the institution, was officially designed by the wall newspaper editor , also wall newspaper agitator or the presentation of current dates and results, depending on the institution with slogans and appeals on the seasonal topic, May 1st, umpteenth GDR anniversary, October revolutionand achievements of a school class
  • Warsaw Treaty - Warsaw Pact
  • World level - a term that is often used when the GDR's services had or should have a level comparable to that of the West
  • Wendehals - colloquially in the time of the fall of the wall for a person who fundamentally changed their political point of view in a short time
  • Werkmappe - Folder containing colored, stable A3 paper for handicraft and art lessons
  • West antenna - colloquially for an antenna suitable for receiving West German radio stations, recognizable by its size and orientation, in the 1950s there was a risk of removal by FDJ brigades
  • Western television - colloquially see " Valley of the Clueless "
  • West money - slang for DM , freely convertible currency, value date
  • Westpaket or Westpäckchen - colloquially for a gift package from relatives from the Federal Republic
  • Westwagen - a passenger car manufactured in a country outside the Eastern Bloc
  • Winkelement - flags for events / demonstrations (sarcastically cheering rags, scraps of euphoria)
  • Weekly crèche - crèche in which the children were handed in on Monday and picked up again on Friday
  • Desired child pill - colloquially for the birth control pill
  • Throwing disc - Frisbee disc , also floating lid
  • Throwing game - darts


(Official idioms) . . . (to the top of the list)

  • Cellophane bags - colloquially for foil bags
  • Folded paper - in the event of an election, fold the unchanged ballot into the urn
  • Goal setting - instead of "goal setting"

Official idioms

  • Studying the documents - familiarize yourself with the party's decisions
  • The firm / clear class standpoint - socialist worldview, also for Marxist-Leninist worldview
  • The new man - ideal image of man in socialism
  • The good comrades - reliable party cadres
  • The leading role of the party of the working class - claim to leadership of the SED
  • The historical mission of the working class ... - is to build socialism
  • Socialist legalism - the enforcement of socialist law
  • The scientific worldview - term for the Marxist worldview / dialectical and historical materialism / Marxist philosophy
  • The party of the working class - the SED / the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
  • Diplomats in training suits - for internationally successful athletes
  • Unity of economic and social policy - the official guiding principle of SED policy since 1971
  • Main task - At the 8th party congress of the SED in 1971, the main task of socialist construction was defined as “increasing the material and cultural standard of living of the people on the basis of a high rate of development of socialist production, increasing efficiency, scientific progress and increasing labor productivity "
  • Collective of socialist work - award in internal competition
  • Oder-Neisse peace border - border with the People's Republic of Poland
  • Partisan behavior - behavior in accordance with socialist ideals and for the benefit of the GDR
  • Escape from the republic
  • revolutionary vigilance - especially expected of " Chekists ", informers and censors
  • Our people - the party cadres talk about 'their' GDR citizens

Slogans and catchwords

Slogans for the Second Party Conference of the SED in 1952

Slogans for May Day and other demonstrations were given. For this purpose, official lists were published in the newspaper, from which slogans for banners carried along could be chosen. Slogans continued to be used, for example, at party conferences, in programs to meet the planned goals, on buildings via wall newspapers.

Examples of slogans and key words:

  • Everything for the people, everything with the people, everything through the people!
  • Everything for the good of the people!
  • Work with us, plan with us, rule with us! (a statement from Art. 21 of the Constitution of the GDR 1974)
  • Marxism is omnipotent because it is true. also the doctrine of Marx is omnipotent because it is true (a quotation from Lenin)
  • Socialism calls out to us all - often in a twisted way: socialism plucks us all
  • Socialism wins - often in a twisted way: Socialism is waning (was especially known as neon advertising in Dresden on "Pirnaischer Platz", whereby in Upper Saxony win and wan are pronounced the same)
  • The world is recognizable
  • May 1st - "International Fight and Holiday of the Working People for Peace and Socialism"
  • Eternal friendship with the glorious Soviet Union
  • For peace and friendship between peoples
  • Be ready for peace and socialism. Always ready! - Greetings from the Young and Thälmann pioneers
  • The focus is on people
  • Everyone, anywhere - exercise once a week! (Quote from Walter Ulbricht )
  • With every mark, every minute, every gram of material a higher efficiency! (sarcastic continuation: ... cost what it may! )
  • Without God and sunshine, we bring in the harvest.
  • Proletarians of all countries, unite! (as a joke: Vegetarians of all countries - unite!)
  • Better our cities and communities - join us! (Annual call for work assignments - mostly in the form of a subbotnik - in the house community and in public parks and green spaces)
  • The way we work today, we will live tomorrow
  • All our strength for the fulfillment of the 5-year plan
  • All of our creativity for socialism
  • Means learning from the Soviet Union learning how to win - like verballhornt to: means learning from the Soviet Union to learn languish
  • Brothers in arms - class brothers
  • We are the winners of history
  • Where there is a comrade, there is the party - so the better arguments!

Sometimes such slogans were also used ironically, for example the quote From our companies there is much more to be gained from Walter Ulbricht, who meant increasing labor productivity. Colloquially, however, it meant the theft of material and tools in the factories by workers and employees who, due to the poor supply situation, exchanged, sold or used the stolen things themselves.

In the turning point in 1989 but invented demonstrators themselves very apt, sometimes ironic and sarcastic slogans. Slogans such as “We are the people!” And “No violence” accompanied the peaceful revolution. Other slogans were, for example, “Stasi in production!” (What was meant was that they should work) and “We are one people!” (After “We are the people!” At the end of 1989 / beginning of 1990).


“Plastics and elastics from Schkopau” at the Vockerode Elbe bridge on the transit motorway
  • " AKA electric - at home in every house!"
  • "Applesauce always tastes good!"
  • "The Malfa Kraftma bread "
  • "Bathing with Badusan, Badusan ..."
  • "Egg - round and healthy!"
  • "The carpet sweeper is a brisk little bee"
  • "Everyone on every table / fish several times a week!"
  • "KIM - delicious, always fresh from the market" (advertising slogan of the egg producer Kombinat Industrielle Mast )
  • "Take one more egg!"
  • “Plastic and Elastic from Schkopau advertised a large-area illuminated advertisement on a tower at the Elbe bridge Vockerode on the motorway near Vockerode , now in the German Historical Museum
  • "Always ready for your well-being / the Minol oriole is always !"
  • "Sauerkraut is sooo healthy!"
  • "Fish twice a week enriches every lunch menu"
  • " Wartburg : elegant and reliable"
  • " NARVA - as bright as day"

Place names

Locations were occasionally given official additions to their names

or were renamed, mostly politically motivated:

Projection words

Used by western media as alleged GDR idiomatisms, but never spoken well or completely unknown in the GDR:

  • Apparatus - based on the authorities, the entire state administration and power structure of the party (and thus of the state)
  • Apparatnik, Apparatschik - an (SED) party functionary who thinks, speaks and acts from the point of view of the apparatus, the party and political bureaucracy. As a projection word, however, controversial because it is used that way in colloquial Russian .
  • Njet - No (from Russian)
  • Nomenklatura - persons confirmed by various superordinate SED leadership, whose career was politically secured, usually of " cadres " was mentioned.
  • Sudel-Ede - Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler , on the other hand, "Karl-Eduard von Schnitz ..." was common in the GDR, because the last syllable "... ler" was original and funny because of the switched television program (especially before 1969, when there was only one GDR program) or no longer heard because the television set was switched off.
  • Vopo - People's Policeman, whereas “Bulle”, “Grüner” and “Street Forester” (especially for the traffic police) were used.

Cabaret creations

  • "Winged year-end figure" for Christmas angels (from the satirical magazine "Eulenspiegel", caricatured the official attempted evasion of religious terms).

See also


  • Frank Thomas Grub: “Wende” and “Unity” as reflected in German-language literature. A manual. Volume 1: Investigations. De Gruyter, Berlin and New York 2003, ISBN 3-11-017775-7 .
  • Hugo Moser: Linguistic consequences of the political division of Germany. Supplements to the “active word” 3. Schwann, Düsseldorf 1962.
  • Michael Kinne, Birgit Strube-Edelmann: Small dictionary of the GDR vocabulary. 2nd Edition. Schwann, Düsseldorf 1981, ISBN 3-590-15509-4 .
  • Martin Ahrends (Ed.): Trabbi, Telespargel and Tear Pavilion - The dictionary of the GDR language. Heyne, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-453-02357-9 .
  • Wolf Oschlies: Choking and effective words - speaking German in the GDR. Holzapfel, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-921226-34-1 .
  • Margot Heinemann: Small dictionary of youth language. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1990, ISBN 3-323-00273-3 .
  • Manfred W. Hellmann: Divergence and Convergence - Linguistic and communicative consequences of the state separation and unification of Germany. In: Karin Eichhoff-Cyrus, Rudolf Hoberg (Hrsg.): The German language at the turn of the millennium - language culture or language decay. Duden series Subject German. Volume 1. Mannheim (Duden editors) and Wiesbaden (GfdS) 2000, pp. 247–275.
  • Marianne Schröder, Ulla Fix: General vocabulary of the GDR citizens - sorted according to subject groups and linguistically commented. Heidelberg 1997.
  • Birgit Wolf: Language in the GDR. A dictionary. de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 2000, ISBN 3-11-016427-2 . online at Google Books
  • Jan Eik : GDR German: a language that has disappeared . Jaron, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-89773-645-0 .
  • Norbert Nail: Beyond the "broad stone": Student German in the GDR. In: Studenten-Kurier 3/2013, pp. 15-17.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Sabine Schroeter: The language of the GDR as reflected in its literature. Studies on GDR-typical vocabulary. Gruyter, 1994, ISBN 3-11-013808-5 .
  2. a b c d e Dictionary of the Economics of Socialism, Dietz Verlag Berlin, 2nd edition 1969
  3. Matthias Wyssuwa: State-certified rapper In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of November 7, 2009, p. 9.
  4. Birgit Wolf: "Language in the GDR", de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, ISBN 978-3-11-016427-5 , p. 166
  5. ^ Gerhard Strauss, Ulrike Haß, Gisela Harras: explosive words from agitation to zeitgeist. A lexicon for public usage . de Gruyter, Berlin, New York 1989, ISBN 3-11-012078-X (= Writings of the Institute for the German Language Volume 2), p. 385 f.
  6. DIE ZEIT 08/1997: Wild nights in the hay
  7. Thomas Grossbölting: Peace State, Reading Country, Sports Nation? GDR legends put to the test , Ch. Links Verlag 2009, p. 181 online
  8. Jensen Zlotowicz: Exhibition "drinking culture in the GDR" in Jena polarized. In: Thüringische Landeszeitung., April 24, 2014, accessed December 8, 2015 .
  9. Prenaband at the German Historical Museum
  10. Frank Thomas Grub: "Wende" and "Unity" as reflected in German-language literature. A manual. Volume 1: Investigations. De Gruyter, Berlin and New York 2003, p. 114.
  11. "Vertigo Course"
  12. Article 10 of the Constitution of the GDR 1974
  13. Political Economy of Socialism and its Application in the GDR, Dietz Verlag Berlin 1969, page 481 ff.
  14. ^ Günter Dietrich Schmidt (1987): Objective. On the use and origin of a GDR-specific word. In: Mother tongue 1–2 / 97. P. 37–41 - Wiesbaden: Society for the German Language (GfdS), 1987. (Mother tongue 1–2 / 97)
  15. Peter Von Polenz German Language History 3 from the Late Middle Ages to the present
  16. Antje Buer, "Language in the GDR" and "Language of the Wende" as subject areas of language and political research, page 30 (PDF; 138 kB)
  17. Astrid Stedj (2007) German language yesterday and today: Introduction to the history of language and ... page 211
  18. Thorsten Roelcke: History of the German language . 2011, p. 66 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  19. Neues Deutschland from February 3, 2009, accessed on July 21, 2010