Referendum in Saxony in 1946
The referendum in Saxony on the law on the transfer of war and Nazi criminals into the property of the people on June 30, 1946 was the first vote in the Soviet occupation zone and at the same time the first direct democratic vote in Germany after the Second World War . The law provided for the expropriation of large landowners , war criminals and active National Socialists without compensation . The voters accepted the proposal with a majority of 77.56%.
The referendum , which actually preceded the decision according to the legal situation then in force in Saxony , was circumvented on the basis of the ordinance on referendums and referendums of April 4, 1946. In this respect, the referendum in Saxony was not a direct democratic initiative procedure, but rather a referendum . The referendum itself, however, was carried out correctly according to democratic principles .
The Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) had placed the assets of numerous industrial companies and manufacturers under forced administration with order No. 124 on the seizure and provisional takeover of certain categories of property in Germany of October 30, 1945 - one spoke of sequestration by a trustee. With Order No. 126, the assets of the heads of the NSDAP , leading members and influential supporters as well as those of disbanded National Socialist organizations were also expropriated and with Order No. 154/181 on the transfer of the expropriated and confiscated property to the possession and usufruct of the German self-governments of May 21, 1946 transferred to the right of disposal of the state and provincial administrations.
The bill that was put to the vote on June 30, 1946 stipulated in Article 1 that these assets should be declared expropriated. The Article 2 of the bill given it the property of the Saxony state administration or local governments of urban and rural districts and the urban-rural communes or cooperatives or unions .
In preparation for the vote, commissions were formed from party and trade union representatives to decide on the 4,700 companies confiscated in Saxony. The companies were divided into three lists:
- List A - companies whose owners should be expropriated by referendum. Of the 2169 companies initially included in this list, 1861 companies were up for a vote on the day of the referendum.
- List B - Businesses that should be returned to their owners because the owners were considered "not significantly encumbered". Of the initially 1931 companies in this list, 2239 companies were up for a vote on the day of the referendum.
- List C - Companies that should remain temporarily (mostly for reparations ) owned or controlled by SMAD. In this list, 600 companies were to be voted on.
Numerous members as well as the party leaders of the CDU and LDP criticized the modalities of the expropriation proceedings, above all they tried to ensure that only the "really guilty" would be punished. In the course of June until the day of the referendum, 308 establishments could be moved from List A to List B.
The referendum was initiated by the Saxon KPD leadership. For the first time, Hermann Matern had proposed publicly on February 14, 1946 at the conference of the secretaries of the KPD of Saxony that expropriation should be carried out as a referendum as a “punishment of Nazi and war criminals”. At the first Reich Conference of the KPD on March 2 and 3, 1946, Walter Ulbricht supported the plan and signaled the approval of the SMAD. Now the KPD - from April 1946 the SED - was also able to convince the CDU and LDP of the referendum. From May 1946 a referendum campaign began, which was operated mainly by the SED and the FDGB with immense propaganda effort. In doing so, the terms “socialism” and “nationalization” were consistently avoided; instead, “peacekeeping”, “condemnation of war criminals” and “transfer of the factories to public ownership” were propagated.
A democratic legitimation for the referendum was circumvented with the ordinance on referendums and referendums of the state administration of Saxony, dated April 4, 1946 and confirmed by the SMA Saxony on May 23, 1946 , which called for an upstream referendum by at least one tenth of those entitled to vote by “the joint introduction of a referendum by all parties of the anti-fascist-democratic bloc and the FDGB made the decision of the population superfluous ”.
All persons living in the state of Saxony who had reached the age of 21 were entitled to vote; including the resettlers and returned prisoners of war reported by May 31, 1946. The number of eligible voters was 3.69 million. 14,228 people named to the municipal authorities on the proposal of the “anti-fascist democratic parties” as alleged war criminals, functionaries of Nazi organizations or “other activists of fascism and those interested in war” had no voting rights.
The turnout was 93.7 percent (3.46 million). To the question “Do you agree to the law on the transfer of war and Nazi criminals' property into the property of the people?” 77.6 percent (2.69 million) answered yes and 16.6 percent (0.57 million) answered yes no . 5.8 percent (0.2 million) of the votes were invalid.
Expropriations in other German countries
An expropriation by referendum only took place in Saxony. In Thuringia , Saxony-Anhalt , the Mark Brandenburg and Mecklenburg , the state and provincial administrations issued ordinances on the expropriation of war criminals and National Socialists from July 24 to August 16, 1946.
There were no comparable expropriations in the western zones of occupation. Only the constitution of the State of Hesse , on which a referendum took place on December 1, 1946, provided for the transfer into common ownership of companies important to supply (mining industry, energy industry, rail transport) and state supervision or administration for large banks and insurance companies (Art. 41 Verf HE, so-called socialization article ), which however was not realized.
- Günter Braun: The referendum in Saxony on June 30, 1946 . In: Martin Broszat , Hermann Weber (ed.): SBZ manual . State administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany 1945–1949. R. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55262-7 , p. 381-383 .
- Stefan Creuzberger: Class struggle in Saxony. The Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) and the referendum on June 30, 1946 . In: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Hrsg.): Historisch-Politische Mitteilungen. Archive for Christian Democratic Politics . No. 2 , 1995, ISSN 0943-691X , p. 119–130 ( kas.de [PDF; 1.2 MB ]).
- Manfred Schneider: What the people's hands create should be the people's own. The referendum on the expropriation of war and Nazi criminals on June 30, 1946 in Saxony. GNN Society for Messaging and Dissemination, Publishing Company for Saxony / Berlin, Schkeuditz 2006, ISBN 3-89819-215-6 .
- Ute Böhme: The expropriation of large companies and the development of a socialist planned economy in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ). 1945 to 1949; using the example of Siemens . Erlangen 2006, p. 156–174 , urn : nbn: de: bvb: 29-opus-4147 (Erlangen, Nürnberg, Univ., Diss., 2006).
- Deutsche Welle - Calendar sheet: June 29, 1946 - Saxony before the referendum , explanations on the referendum
- Otmar Jung: Direct Democracy. Experiences and perspectives. (PDF) Lecture given on June 11, 2008 at the Institute for Political Science of the Technical University of Dresden, p. 9 f.
- SMAD Command No. 124.
- SMAD Command No. 126.
- SMAD command no. 154/181.
- Law on the transfer of businesses of war and Nazi criminals into the property of the people of June 30, 1946.
- Ordinance for the implementation of the law of June 30, 1946 on the transfer of businesses of war and Nazi criminals into the property of the people.
- Günter Braun: The referendum in Saxony on June 30, 1946 . In: Martin Broszat , Hermann Weber (ed.): SBZ manual . R. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55262-7 , p. 382 .
- Ordinance on popular initiatives and referendums of April 4, 1946. Official News Saxony, special edition of May 31, 1946.
- Referendum and referendum in Saxony . In: New Germany . May 26, 1946, p. 1 .
- Poster ordinance on popular initiatives and referendums of April 4, 1946 . City History Museum Leipzig.
- Minutes of the 54th presidential meeting, Saturday, May 25, 1946 . In: Andreas Thüsing (Ed.): The Presidium of the State Administration of Saxony. The minutes of the meetings from July 9, 1945 to December 10, 1946 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-525-36916-6 , pp. 344 ff .
- Günter Braun: Documentation . Referendum in Saxony June 30, 1946. In: Martin Broszat , Hermann Weber (Hrsg.): SBZ-Handbuch . R. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55262-7 , p. 395 .
- Karl Julius Ploetz: The great Ploetz. The data encyclopedia of world history . Special edition. Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-86150-733-1 , p. 1397 .