German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) 1

German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) Part I

Prehistory and origin (1945-49)

The GDR was primarily a product of the socio-political changes that the Soviet occupying power implemented with the help of German communists between 1945 and 1949. On 9.6.1945 the USSR established the SMAD in the occupation zone assigned to it (1. – 4.7.1945 entry of the Soviet occupation troops into the temporarily British-American occupied parts of Mecklenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony). In view of the war of annihilation waged by National Socialist Germany against the USSR, J. W. Stalin demanded German reparations payments from all four zones of occupation.

The SMAD supported the establishment of an “anti-fascist-democratic order” proclaimed by the KPD and SED, which structurally increasingly came closer to the Soviet model of society. The SMAD combined the measures decided by the victorious powers in the Potsdam Agreement with socio-political structural changes as well as the establishment of an administrative apparatus that was politically obliged to it in the countries newly or re-established from July 9, 1945 (personal cleansing of the public service); In doing so, she smuggled small groups (Ulbricht group) prepared in the USSR for their tasks in Germany into positions of importance in terms of power politics (e.g. police and judiciary). Also in the German central administrations established by her on July 27, 1945she secured considerable influence from the start. As part of its reparations policy, the Soviet occupying power dismantled a large number of factories, took over 202 factories as “Soviet stock corporations” (SAG; ordinance of June 5, 1946; including Buna, Leuna) and removed products from the current production of those under reconstruction in their occupation zone Industry. Against the background of the escalating East-West conflict (1947/48), SMAD and SED pushed structural changes forward: the school and judicial reform, the closure of the big banks (July 23, 1945) and the land reform From autumn 1945 (September 3–10, 1945 resolutions on the expropriation of all agricultural production sites over 100 ha without compensation) followed the expropriation and nationalization of industrial and commercial enterprises ([sequestration] order number 124 of the SMAD of October 30, 1945; after one for representative declared referendum in Saxony of June 30, 1946 expropriation ordinance in all countries); the formation of a new sector of “state- owned enterprises ” began, which initially included the expropriated large enterprises of, among others, IG Farben, Flick, Krupp, AEG belonged to.

After the admission of parties (order number 2 of the SMAD of June 10, 1945), the communists, among whom W. Ulbricht increasingly emerged, were able, with the support of the occupying power, to integrate the competing parties into the bloc system under their leadership. With the founding of communist-oriented mass organizations (e.g. in the trade union, youth and women’s sectors), v. a. However, with the merger of the KPD and SPD to form the SED (chairmen: W. Pieck and O. Grotewohl), under strong pressure from the SPD, they had expanded their dominant position. The other parties inevitably lost more and more of their political weight. Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click

Aided by the occupying power and supported by the bloc system, the SED – unlike in Berlin – was able to secure its leadership in the local and state elections of October 20, 1946 in the people’s representative bodies of the Soviet occupation zone. In the German Economic Commission (DWK) there was a central, government-like administrative system controlled by the SED from 14 June 1947 below the level of the SMAD, in which the “central administrations” already worked like ministries (newly constituted on 9 March 1948). From June 24th to 28th, 1948 the currency reform was carried out in the Soviet Zone.

Founding, alignment according to the Soviet model (1949-60)

The 2nd “German People’s Congress for Unity and Just Peace”, directed by the SED, had the 1st “German People’s Council” elected on March 18, 1948; the 2nd “German People’s Council”, elected on May 15/16, 1949 on the basis of a “unified list” of parties and mass organizations, constituted itself as a provisional People’s Chamber on October 7, 1949 and proclaimed the German Democratic Republic on the same day, assuming a constitution (since the law of April 21, 1950 to 1989 national and founding holiday of the GDR). On October 12, 1949, Grotewohl received the approval of the People’s Chamber to form a bloc government made up of all parties, in which, however, the SED had sole power (Deputy Prime Minister: Ulbricht). Pieck had become President the day before.

The GDR developed – with the elimination of the non-socialist (supposedly “reactionary”) forces in the bourgeois parties – from then on along the lines of the Eastern European “people’s democracy”. On February 3, 1950, the “National Front of Democratic Germany” (later renamed the National Front of the GDR) was constituted as the political framework of the bloc system. After the dissolution of the SMAD on October 10, 1949, the »Soviet Control Commission« (SKK) was its immediate successor as the central organ of Soviet occupation. On October 15, 1950 there were »elections« for the 1st People’s Chamber, which since then (until March 18, 1990) have been based on a unified list of the National Front according to a fixed mandate and have always confirmed the leading role of the SED.

Socio-politically, with the help of the occupying power, the SED had succeeded by the early 1950s in changing the structures in politics, business and administration in such a way that its claim to leadership could be enforced in all relevant decisions. Under the leadership of Ulbricht, the SED transformed itself into a “new type of party” based on the model of the CPSU.

In 1954 the offices of the two chairmen with equal rights were abolished; As First Secretary, Ulbricht was the undisputed leader of the party. Ideological indoctrination and political discipline should guarantee the unity and clout of the party in state and society; the social democratic element was pushed into the background – contrary to the official objective when the party was founded; the idea of ​​a “special German road to socialism” (A. Ackermann) had been dropped earlier. Through repeated purges, mostly accompanied by arrests (including July 1950 against “Western emigrants” such as Paul Merker [* 1894, † 1969]; accusation of collaboration with the “US agent” Noël H. Field [* 1904, † 1970]), Ulbricht switched off his internal party critics. With the establishment of the “Supreme Court” and the “Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office” (1949), in particular with the establishment of the State Security Service (MfS; law of 8 February 1950), the party and state leadership created an effective apparatus for controlling the entire state and social life.

The other parties and the mass organizations had now completely become “transmission organs” of the SED towards those social classes in which their influence was limited, such as the CDUD for the Christian-minded part of the population or the “Democratic Peasant Party of Germany” (DBD) for the rural population.

German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) 1