Quick Reminder: You can’t triple post. You should delete one of these and edit an existing post if you have more to say.
Also, the link leads to a page saying “The playlist does not exist”.
What is our favourite national anthem(s)?
My favourites are: The Armenian SSR Anthem, The Azerbaijan SSR Anthem, Turkey's Anthem, Italy's Anthem, Tuva's Anthem, Buryatia's Anthem, And Azerbaijan's Anthem.
I also like East Germany's anthem
-Something my now deceased grandma would say
What is our favourite national anthem(s)?
My favourites are: The Armenian SSR Anthem, The Azerbaijan SSR Anthem, Turkey's Anthem, Italy's Anthem, Tuva's Anthem, Buryatia's Anthem, And Azerbaijan's Anthem.
I would say the dutch anthem (het Wilhelmus) bc that is where i'm from, but the text is kinda weird.
Added a section for Women's benefits.
The GDR is the oldest and largest country in Europe which is controlled by a Communist regime.
The GDR was established in the Soviet zone while the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly referred to as West Germany, was established in the three western zones. A satellite state of the Soviet Union, Soviet occupation authorities began transferring administrative responsibility to German communist leaders in 1948 and the GDR began to function as a state on 7 October 1949, although Soviet forces remained in the country throughout the Cold War. Since 1949, the GDR is governed by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), although other parties nominally participate in its alliance organization, the National Front of the German Democratic Republic. The SED makes the teaching of Marxism–Leninism and the Russian language compulsory in schools.
The economy is mainly centrally planned and state-owned. Prices of public transport, housing, and basic utilities are heavily subsidized and set by central government planners, rather than rising and falling through supply and demand. Although the GDR had to pay substantial war reparations to the Soviets, it became the most successful economy in the Eastern Bloc. Emigration to the West was a significant problem as many of the emigrants were well-educated young people and weakened the state economically. The government fortified its inner German border and built the Berlin Wall in 1961. Many people attempting to flee were killed by border guards or booby traps such as landmines. Those captured spent long periods of time imprisoned for attempting to escape. In 1951, a referendum in East Germany regarding the remilitarization of Germany was held, with 95% of the population voting in favour.
In 1989, numerous social, economic and political forces in the GDR and abroad, one of the most notable being peaceful protests starting in the city of Leipzig, led to a massive crackdown on protesters and condemnation from the international community. Nevertheless the GDR survived, although its brand of Socialism underwent a massive change during the 1990s. This was marked by a return to Stalinism, when Egon Krenz was removed as General Secretary in 1991, and replaced by the notorious chief of the Stasi, Erich Mielke.
In 2000, Gregor Gysi became General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED, replacing Erich Mielke. Gysi had emerged as a leading reformists within the SED, inspired by Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms in the Soviet Union. In the mass demonstrations in East-Berlin's Alexanderplatz on during both the Incident of 1989 and the demonstrations following the firing of de Maizière, Gysi spoke to the crowds and called for reforms, including free elections, reflecting the concerns of many of the younger members of the SED.
His first act as General Secretary was to reinstate de Maizière as Minister of German Affairs, as well as reinstating the Aufgeschlossenheit policies. He also planned the Auflockerung (loosening) - the transition to free elections in which candidates and parties would not be required to be a part of the SED-controlled National Front, the nominal multiparty system of East Germany. This was a nonstarter for the influential Politbüro however.
On the morning of May 5th, 2001, mass demonstrations, led by members of the Volksarmee, protested against the Auflockerung and the transition to democracy. Army Heneral Heinz Kessler, the GDR Minister of Defense, and a member of the Politbüro of the Central Committee of the SED, publicly pushed for Gysi to resign, stating that "The Revolution must continue." They surrounded key buildings in East Berlin, including the Palace of the Republic, the seat of the Volkskammer. They also surrounded the State Council Building and Schönhausen Palace, which was the official residence of the President of East Germany at the time.
While some members of the Volksarmee remained loyal to Gysi, most of the military and law enforcement of the country - with the notable exception of Combat Groups of the Working Class (KdA) - turned against him and sided with Kessler. By the morning of May 6th, it became clear to the President that he could no longer hold on to power. Gysi and fellow reformists - such as Lothar Bisky, Petra Pau, and Günter Schabowski - were soon arrested. General Kessler was soon thereafter elected President, and General Secretary.
On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, marking a steep escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014. The German Democratic Republic officially supported the Russian invasion, calling for the "denazification", and removal of the "fascistic regime" in Kiev. Several East German government officials were sanctioned by numerous Western countries as a result. In April of 2022, it was discovered that about 7,000 East German troops were actively fighting alongside the Russians in the Donbas region.
On 29 February 2022, the GDR followed Russia's lead by recognizing the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic. The following day, East Germany went a step further than Russia, by officially recognizing the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic as an independent state, becoming the first country to do so. The PMR (aka 'Transnistria') is a breakaway state that is internationally recognised as part of Moldova. Transnistria controls most of the narrow strip of land between the Dniester river and the Moldovan–Ukrainian border, as well as some land on the other side of the river's bank. Its capital and largest city is Tiraspol. Transnistria is officially designated by the Republic of Moldova as the Administrative-Territorial Units of the Left Bank of the Dniester under Russian military occupation.
Explaining the internal impact of the GDR government from the perspective of German history in the long term, historian Gerhard A. Ritter (2002) has argued that the East German state is defined by two dominant forces – Soviet communism on the one hand, and German traditions filtered through the interwar experiences of German communists on the other. The GDR always was constrained by the example of the richer West, to which East Germans often compare their nation. The changes implemented by the communists were most apparent in ending capitalism and in transforming industry and agriculture, in the militarization of society, and in the political thrust of the educational system and of the media. On the other hand, the new regime made relatively few changes in the historically independent domains of the sciences, the engineering professions, the Protestant churches, and in many bourgeois lifestyles. Social policy, says Ritter, became a critical legitimization tool in the last few decades, and mix socialist and traditional elements about equally.
The ruling communist party, known as the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), formed in April 1946 from the merger between the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The two former parties were notorious rivals when they were active before the Nazis consolidated all power and criminalized them, and official East German and Soviet histories portrayed this merger as a voluntary pooling of efforts by the socialist parties and symbolic of the new friendship of German socialists after defeating their common enemy; however, there is much evidence that the merger was more troubled than commonly portrayed, and that the Soviet occupation authorities applied great pressure on the SPD's eastern branch to merge with the KPD, and the communists, who held a majority, had virtually total control over policy. The SED has remained the ruling party for the entire duration of the East German state. It had close ties with the Soviets, which maintained military forces in East Germany until the dissolution of the Soviet regime in 1991 (Russia continued to maintain forces in the territory of the former East Germany until 1994), with the stated purpose of countering NATO bases in West Germany.
As West Germany was reorganized and gained independence from its occupiers (1945–1949), the GDR was established in East Germany in October 1949. The emergence of the two sovereign states solidified the 1945 division of Germany. On 10 March 1952, (in what would become known as the "Stalin Note") the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, issued a proposal to reunify Germany with a policy of neutrality, with no conditions on economic policies and with guarantees for "the rights of man and basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, press, religious persuasion, political conviction, and assembly" and free activity of democratic parties and organizations. The West demurred; reunification was not then a priority for the leadership of West Germany, and the NATO powers declined the proposal, asserting that Germany should be able to join NATO and that such a negotiation with the Soviet Union would be seen as a capitulation. There have been several debates about whether Germany missed a chance for reunification in 1952.
In 1949 the Soviets turned control of East Germany over to the SED, headed by Wilhelm Pieck (1876–1960), who became the first President of the GDR and held the office until his death, while the SED general secretary Walter Ulbricht assumed most executive authority. Socialist leader Otto Grotewohl (1894–1964) became prime minister until his death.
The government of East Germany denounced West German failures in accomplishing denazification, and renounced ties to the Nazi past, imprisoning many former Nazis and preventing them from holding government positions. The SED set a primary goal of ridding East Germany of all traces of Nazism. It is estimated that between 180,000 and 250,000 people were sentenced to imprisonment on political grounds.
On 7 October 1949 the SED established the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic – GDR), based on a socialist political constitution establishing its control of the Anti-Fascist National Front of the German Democratic Republic, an omnibus alliance of every party and mass organisation in East Germany. The NF was established to stand for election to the Volkskammer (People's Chamber), the East German parliament. The first president of the German Democratic Republic was Wilhelm Pieck. However, after 1950, political power in East Germany was held by the First Secretary of the SED, Walter Ulbricht. The office was temporarily resurrected in 1992 by Erich Mielke, but was again abolished in 2022 after Angela Merkel, the 5th president of East Germany, retired from politics. In place of the Presidency, the State Council of the German Democratic Republic was resurrected, with former West German trade unionist Klaus Ernst elected as its Chairman on 22 January 2022. He was later elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party on 25 January 2022.
On 16 June 1953, workers constructing the new Stalinallee boulevard in East Berlin according to the GDR's officially promulgated Sixteen Principles of Urban Design, rioted against a 10% production-quota increase. Initially a labour protest, the action soon included the general populace, and on 17 June similar protests occurred throughout the GDR, with more than 1 million people striking in some 700 cities and towns. Fearing anti-communist counter-revolution, on 18 June 1953, the government of the GDR enlisted the Soviet Occupation Forces to aid the police in ending the riot; some fifty people were killed and 10,000 were jailed.
The German war reparations owed to the Soviets impoverished the Soviet Zone of Occupation, and severely weakened the East German economy. In the 1945–46 period, the Soviets confiscated and transported to the USSR approximately 33% of the industrial plants, and by the early 1950s, had extracted some US$10 billion in reparations in agricultural and industrial products. The poverty of East Germany, induced or deepened by reparations, provoked the Republikflucht ("desertion from the republic") to West Germany, further weakening the GDR's economy. Western economic opportunities induced a brain drain. In response, the GDR closed the inner German border, and on the night of 12 August 1961, East German soldiers began erecting the Berlin Wall.
In 1971, Ulbricht was removed from leadership after Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev supported his ouster; Erich Honecker replaced him. While the Ulbricht government had experimented with liberal reforms, the Honecker government reversed them. The new government introduced a new East German Constitution which defined the German Democratic Republic as a "republic of workers and peasants".
Initially, East Germany claimed an exclusive mandate for all of Germany, a claim supported by most of the Communist bloc. It claimed that West Germany was an illegally-constituted puppet state of NATO. However, from the 1960s onward, East Germany began recognizing itself as a separate country from West Germany, and shared the legacy of the united German state of 1871–1945. This was formalized in 1974, when the reunification clause was removed from the revised East German constitution. West Germany, in contrast, maintained that it was the only legitimate government of Germany. From 1949 to the early 1970s, West Germany maintained that East Germany was an illegally constituted state. It argued that the GDR was a Soviet puppet-state, and frequently referred to it as the "Soviet occupation zone". West Germany's allies shared this position until 1973. East Germany was recognized primarily by socialist countries and by the Arab bloc, along with some "scattered sympathizers". According to the Hallstein Doctrine (1955), West Germany did not establish (formal) diplomatic ties with any country—except the Soviets—that recognized East German sovereignty.
In the early 1970s, the Ostpolitik ("Eastern Policy") of "Change Through Rapprochement" of the pragmatic government of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, established normal diplomatic relations with the Eastern Bloc states. This policy saw the Treaty of Moscow (August 1970), the Treaty of Warsaw (December 1970), the Four Power Agreement on Berlin (September 1971), the Transit Agreement (May 1972), and the Basic Treaty (December 1972), which relinquished any separate claims to an exclusive mandate over Germany as a whole, and established normal relations between the two Germanies. Both countries were admitted into the United Nations on 18 September 1973. This also increased the number of countries recognizing East Germany to 55, including the US, the UK and France, though these three still refused to recognize East Berlin as the capital, and insisted on a specific provision in the UN resolution accepting the two Germanies into the UN to that effect. Following the Ostpolitik, the West German view was that East Germany was a de facto government within a single German nation, and a de jure state organisation of parts of Germany outside the Federal Republic. The Federal Republic continued to maintain that it could not within its own structures recognize the GDR de jure as a sovereign state under international law; but it fully acknowledged that, within the structures of international law, the GDR was an independent sovereign state. By distinction, West Germany then viewed itself as being within its own boundaries, not only the de facto and de jure government, but also the sole de jure legitimate representative of a dormant "Germany as whole". The two Germanies each relinquished any claim to represent the other internationally; which they acknowledged as necessarily implying a mutual recognition of each other as both capable of representing their own populations de jure in participating in international bodies and agreements, such as the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act.
Following popular protests against the government, the SED Politbüro voted to remove Erich Honecker on 18 October 1989. Egon Krenz was elected as the new General Secretary of the Central Committee.
In his inaugural speech to the Central Committee, Krenz emphasized that the face of the Central Committee was now turned towards the people. For the first time, for example, Mielke allowed for filming in the Politbüro building.
As part of stated reforms, Krenz and SED found itself compelled to make concessions, such as the freedom of travel. Increasing numbers of refugees from East Germany were were finding their way to Hungary. To ease the difficulties between the GDR and Czechoslovakia, Mielke decided on to allow refugees to exit directly through crossing points on the Inner German Border, including between East and West Berlin at the Berlin Wall.
Günter Schabowski, spokesman for the Politburo, had the task of announcing the new regulations. However, he had not been involved in the discussions about the new regulations and had not been fully updated. When asked by journalists when the borders would be opened, he replied "without delay."
Wolfgang Schwanitz, the new head of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi) had taken part in the Politburo's discussions. When the crowds of refugees gathered at the border - chiefly at Checkpoint Charlie - Schwanitz gave the Stasi authority to prevent them from crossing until the appointed time, by force if necessary. At midnight, the Stasi (and some Volksarmee members) opened fire on the crowds, killing over 60 in minutes. Over the course of the night, over 200 people were killed, with nearly 1,000 more injured.
Following Krenz's ineffective approach to restoring order, he was removed from power, and replaced by former East German spy chief Erich Mielke, in 1992.
The original flag, which was hoisted in 1990 over Gethsemane Lutheran Church, was eventually smuggled out of the country. It now resides in a museum in West Germany.
In 2000, Gregor Gysi, a leading reformist in the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) - succeeded Mielke as General Secretary. In the wake of mass demonstrations in East Berlin's Alexanderplatz during both the Incident of 1989 and the demonstrations following the firing of Democratic Affairs Minister Lothar de Maizière, Gysi spoke to the crowds and called for reforms, including free elections, reflecting the concerns of many of the younger members of the SED.
His first act as General Secretary was to reinstate de Maizière, as well as reinstating the Aufgeschlossenheit (opening) policies that Krenz had been reluctant to implement. Gysi planned to pursue further reforms, which he termed the Auflockerung (loosening) - including transition to truly free and fair elections.
On the 5 May 2001, demonstrations by members of the Volksarmee, protested against the Auflockerung and the transition to democracy. Army Heneral Heinz Kessler, the GDR Minister of Defense, and a member of the Politbüro of the Central Committee of the SED, publicly pushed for Gysi to resign, stating that "The Revolution must continue." They surrounded key buildings in East Berlin, including the Palace of the Republic, the seat of the Volkskammer. They also surrounded the State Council Building and Schönhausen Palace, which was the official residence of the President of East Germany at the time.
While some members of the Volksarmee remained loyal to Gysi, most of the military and law enforcement of the country - with the notable exception of Combat Groups of the Working Class (KdA) - turned against him and sided with Kessler. By the morning of May 6th, it became clear to the President that he could no longer hold on to power. Gysi and fellow reformists such as Lothar Bisky, Petra Pau, and Günter Schabowski; were soon arrested. General Kessler was now the undisputed leader of the GDR, a position he would hold until his death on 2 May 2017.
East German Identity
From the beginning, the newly formed GDR tried to establish its own separate identity. Because of the imperial and military legacy of Prussia, the SED repudiated continuity between Prussia and the GDR. The SED destroyed a number of symbolic relics of the former Prussian aristocracy: Junker manor-houses were torn down, the Berliner Stadtschloß was razed, and the equestrian statue of Frederick the Great was removed from East Berlin. Instead, the SED focused on the progressive heritage of German history, including Thomas Müntzer's role in the German Peasants' War of 1524–1525 and the role played by the heroes of the class struggle during Prussia's industrialization.
Especially after the Ninth Party Congress in 1976, East Germany upheld historical reformers such as Karl Freiherr vom Stein (1757–1831), Karl August von Hardenberg (1750–1822), Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835), and Gerhard von Scharnhorst (1755–1813) as examples and role models.
The Nationale Volksarmee (the Armed Forces of East Germany) synthesizes communist and Prussian symbolism, naming its officers' academy, the Friedrich Engels Military Academy, after Karl Marx's co-author, Friedrich Engels, and its highest medal after Prussian Army General Gerhard von Scharnhorst. After the Second World War, West Germany abandoned the goose step in favor of a hybrid Western march step, while keeping the hand swings to the chest, due to their status as light infantry. East Germany preserved the goose step and renamed it the Exerzierschritt ("drilling step") to avoid references to old Prussian and Wehrmacht military traditions.
East Germany was elected as a member of the UN Security Council 1980-81.
In the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, in spite of the U.S.-led boycott, East Germany won over a total of 126 Olympic medals, finishing second place behind the Soviet Union, itself.
The ruling political party in East Germany is the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED). It was created in 1946 through the Soviet-directed merger of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in the Soviet-controlled zone. However, the SED quickly transformed into a full-fledged Communist party, as the more independent-minded Social Democrats were pushed out.
The Potsdam Agreement committed the Soviets to support a democratic form of government in Germany, though the Soviets' understanding of democracy was radically different from that of the West. As in other Soviet-bloc countries, non-communist political parties were allowed. Nevertheless, every political party in the GDR was forced to join the National Front, which is a broad coalition of parties, and mass political organisations.
The member parties are almost completely subservient to the SED and had to accept its "leading role" as a condition of their existence. However, the parties do have nominal representation in the Volkskammer, and receive some posts in the government.
The Volkskammer also includes representatives from the mass organisations like the Free German Youth (FDJ), or the Free German Trade Union Federation. There is also a Democratic Women's Federation of Germany, with seats in the Volkskammer.
Important non-parliamentary mass organisations in East German society include the German Gymnastics and Sports Association (DTSB), and People's Solidarity (Volkssolidarität), an organisation for the elderly. Another society of note was the Society for German-Soviet Friendship, which in 1992, was transformed into the Society for German-Russian Friendship. It remains an important mass public organization to this day in East Germany, and has Representatives serving in the Volkskammer.
The concept of multiyear plans was introduced with the First Five-Year Plan of 1951. It was intended to make up war losses and also make possible reparations payments to the Soviet Union. For this purpose, heavy industry was built up on a large scale. Production goals could not be reached, however, because of a chronic shortage of raw materials. The manufacture of consumer products was neglected, completely.
When production began to decline in the early 1960s, the SED introduced the so-called New Economic System of decentralized planning, which delegated some production decisions previously the prerogative of the central planning authorities to the Association of Publicly Owned Enterprises (Vereinigung Volkseigener Betriebe – VVB). The VVB was to foster specialized production within individual branches of industry, including the previously neglected production of consumer goods. Production declined even further, however, and it became increasingly evident to many East Germans that their "planned economy" had lost the economic battle with the capitalist West.
Since 1996, State enterprises are free to determine output levels, based on demand from consumers and other enterprises. Enterprises are required to first fulfill state-mandated production quotas, but may dispose of the remaining output as they see fit. The state still holds control over the means of production for these enterprises, thus limiting their ability to enact full-cost accountability.
In 2002, a Free Economic Zone (FEZ) area was set up in Leipzig. Since July 2022, the programme has extended to East Berlin, Dresden, Halle, Leipzig, Erfurt, Eisenhüttenstadt, Görlitz, and Stralsund. As of 2022, more than 375 foreign organizations have benefited from the opportunity. Membership in a FEZ confers substantial benefits:
* Tax free profits on all goods and services for five years, then a 50% discount
• 50% discount on VAT on import substitution goods manufactured within an FEZ
No taxes on real estate owned or leased in the FEZ
• Exempt from payments to National
• Agriculture Support Fund
• No tax on purchasing vehicles
• Privatization Tax is lowered from 30% of the final purchasing cost total, to only 8% of the final purchasing cost.
• No customs duty on raw materials and equipment imported from outside of East Germany
• A guarantee that legislation governing firms will not change for seven years.
It is an administrative-command system managed by a distinctive form of central planning, with basic elements of a regulated free market which have slowly being introduced since the 1990s. The GDR's economy is still shaped primarily by the SED through Five Year Plans, decided upon at the plenary sessions of the Central Committee and SED congresses. Since the 1950s, the Socialist Unity Party has shaped the East German economy through the plenums of its Central Committee and national congresses. The Socialist Unity Party plays a leading role in establishing the foundations and principles of Soviet communism, mapping strategies for economic development, setting growth targets, and launching reforms. The State Planning Commission of the GDR is the agency responsible for central economic planning in East Germany.
The highly centralised East German economy emphasises full employment, and a dominant state sector. It can be described as a welfare state. Small-scale private enterprise has been legalized, although it is heavily taxed, and minuscule in comparison to the dominant state sector.
If a prospective buyer wishes to privatize an enterprise, he must go to the enterprise's elected worker's council, instead of to the enterprise's management. After a period of time of reviewing the application, if the worker's council votes to reccomend privatization, the general workers of that enterprise must then vote on whether or not they wish to approve of the recommendation for privatization. Should this vote also pass, final approval must be given by the Council of Ministers of the GDR. The Council may approve, reject, or reccomend alterations to the application. Any alterations to the original application must then be approved again by the enterprise's elected worker's council. Only after all levels approve of the application, will the enterprise then be privatized. Furthermore, the new owner of the enterprise must then pay the privatization tax, which is 30% of the total cost to purchase the enterprise. This fee is legally required to be paid in full, up front.
Following the decriminalization of the possession of American Dollars (USD) and European Union Euros (EUE) in 2021, the government created special stores in which individuals who possessed dollars or euros could shop for items which are not readily available to individuals whom only possess the Soviet ruble. Moreover, by May of 2021, it was possible to deposit hard currency with interest in the State Bank, by October of that same year, the government had created the State Depository for Foreign Currency Exchange of the GDR, with 80 branches throughout the GDR where citizens may exchange USD or EUE for marks. The German Democratic Republic accepted in 2021, the IMF Agreement that the foreign exchange rate be free of restrictions on payments and transfers. Residents of the GDR need a permit from the State Bank of the German Democratic Republic to open bank accounts in foreign countries. They must also notify the State Bank of any and all activity concerning these foreign accounts.
The East German labour market is highly regulated. Important elements of the central-planning system are still in place, with the State Planning Commission still overseeing most of the economy. In principle, the decision to determine wages is left to firms, but the Government can affect the structure of wages through the so-called tariff system, a type of centrally-determined wage grid. The tariff system is binding in the budget sector, including enterprises and organisations mainly financed and subsidised within the state and/or the local budgets. The private (so-called "self financing sector"), representing, as already noted, only a small share of the national employment figures, has little autonomy.
In the German Democratic Republic, housing in cities belongs to the government. It is distributed by municipal authorities, or by government departments based on an established number of square meters per person. As a rule, tenants have little or no choice in the housing they are offered. Rent and payment for communal services, like water and electricity, does not form a significant part of a family's budget. They do not cover the real costs, which are heavily subsidized by the government. Stalinist architecture has made a comeback as well in recent years. Deliberate recreations of his style have appeared in East Berlin since 1996, either as infill into period neighborhoods, or as individual developments. Some are influenced by pure Neoclassicism or Art Deco; with a few exceptions, their architectural quality and function in urban development is disputed.
In East Germany, it is illegal for anyone to be removed from their apartment or house under any circumstances, unless they have not paid their monthly rent for three years. Even then, the state is required to first find new and adequate accommodations for the tenants, before evictions can be carried out. Tenants have a right to appeal their evictions before the East German courts, even being able to go as far as the Supreme Court of the German Democratic Republic with these legal appeals. It is, however, very rare for appeals to advance beyond the district courts.
A typical East German apartment includes a kitchen, a lavatory, sometimes a balcony, and from one to three rooms. Unlike many other countries, when East German people describe an apartment, they count all rooms, not just bedrooms. It's a common practice to have only one lavatory in the apartment, though modern apartments may have more lavatories and rooms.
An housing boom began in the late 1990's, and is still prevalent throughout the GDR. Most private houses are built in the suburbs of large cities. Obtaining a building permit is quite easy, and the building regulations for private houses are quite liberal. The house must not be higher than 20 metres, and must not have more than 3 floors, including the basement/cellar. It should also be located at least 5 meters from the plot border.
Women's Social Benefits:
While women in East Germany were always encouraged to participate in the workforce, this has not been the case in West Germany, where a woman's primary role was understood to be at home, taking care of her family. In the German Democratic Republic, childcare is provided free-of-charge by the state, and women are offered generous maternity leave benefits. Under the Labour laws of the GDR, women have the right to paid maternity leave, paid parental leave, and unpaid parental leave, that can be extended until the child is 4 years old. In 2020, 91% of women in East Germany were participating in the workforce.
Though the prevailing Marxist ideology stressed total gender equality, and many East German women hold jobs and advanced degrees, they do not traditionally participate in core political roles and institutions. Above the middle levels, political and economic leaders are still overwhelmingly male. This is changing since Angela Merkel became the leader of East Germany in 2017; with many more women sitting as ministers of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic.
The honorary title "Mother Heroine" is awarded to mothers for bearing and raising 10 or more children. The title is accompanied by the bestowal of the Order "Mother Heroine" and a certificate conferred by the State Council of the German Democratic Republic. It iss awarded upon the first birthday of the last child, provided that nine other children (natural or adopted) remain alive. Children whom may have perished under heroic, military or other respectable circumstances, including occupational diseases, are also counted. The award was created simultaneously with the Order of Maternal Glory, intended for women with five to nine children.
Women whom are awarded the title are entitled to a number of privileges in terms of retirement pension, preferential treatment in regards to housing, on par with military veterans; the payment of public utility charges, and the supply of food and other goods. As one recount recalls "...they are always given the best of everything: housing, food, clothing, everything. They are treated almost like royalty, with the greatest of respect. No standing in line for them, either! At the butcher's shop, the best cuts of meat can be expected to go directly into their baskets. A helper or nurse is also assigned by the government to help them take care of the brood, and will arrive first thing in the morning".
Abortion in East Germany is legal as an elective procedure up to the 12th week of pregnancy, with an exception of up to 22 weeks if the pregnancy was the result of rape. For medical necessity, it can be performed at any point during pregnancy. The new law on abortion, which was passed in 2015, also made mandatory a waiting period of two to seven days before an abortion can be performed, to allow the woman to "reconsider her decision". Abortion can only be performed in licensed institutions, and by physicians who have specialized training. The physician can refuse to perform the abortion, except any abortions which must be performed due to medical necessity.
In 2006 to 2015, the opinions of East German women were split about why they were getting an abortion; 11% were getting because of health related reasons, 10% wanted to post-pone having another child and increase the interval between births, 24% did not want another child, 33% did not have the money or another socio-economic issue to be able to have another child, 17% did not want another child because of their partner's objection to it.
Legalization of Prostitution:
In July 2022, the laws banning prostitution in the German Democratic Republic were revised. Since then, prostitution has been legalized, but only in designated areas. This Industry is also extremely regulated. Each city, town, and municipality is required to designate such places within their jurisdiction, and is required to see to it that these locations are not easily accessible to minors. Prostitutes are required to register; they receive a registration pass with a photograph and a registration number, which are then kept and archived by the Stasi. Clients are required to check this pass. In addition to municipal rules a national rule is introduced requiring sex companies to have a license, including prostitution companies such as brothels and escort agencies, but also, for example, adult movie theaters. The premises for public access of a sex company (if any) must have on the outside a sign showing that the company is licensed, while inside a copy of the license has to be displayed. Sex companies are required to pay steep fees in taxes, while prostitutes must pay a monthly "specialized work tax". Prostitutes are also required to undergo weekly testing for STD's.
It is illegal for men to solicit homosexual sex from other men, including from male prostitutes. However, in an odd turn, a loophole in the law means that this same provision does not apply to women.
Education in the GDR:
Education in East Germany is free at all levels except for higher education. The government ministry that oversees the running of the school systems is the Ministry of Education of the German Democratic Republic. Each of the regions inside the GDR has oversight of the education system, and students may attend either a public (state) or a private school. The current structure of the educational system was established by decree in 1998. The education system is also based on The Education Code of the GDR and other educational standards.
The beginning of the school year is September 1 unless that day is a Thursday, Friday or Saturday. In such cases, school starts the following Monday. The school year has always had 38 weeks of classes with 30 weeks covered by the nationwide unified curriculum.
Since 1951, the learning of the Russian language as the foreign language has been made obligatory, because of the leading role of the Soviet Union in the Eastern bloc. Also available are English and French, but only as an additional elective foreign language (Universities require two foreign languages). The Russian lessons focus on the Cyrillic script, the writing, the reading and the grammar of the Russian language. To be able to have a substantial conversation is not an aim, but to be able to use professional and technical Russian literature. The speaking skills should reach a level of sufficient fluency to have a small conversation with a local. There are only few opportunities for student exchanges. Appreciated by parents are the so-called head marks (Kopfnoten) which assessed behavior, industriousness, order, and cooperation. These are combined with a short teacher's essay about the student's character, success or progress, advice for future improvements - here and there from a socialistic point of view.
In the German Democratic Republic, pre-Kindergarten childcare is provided free-of-charge by the state. Some kindergartens are specialized to work with psycho-physically challenged children to help them socialize.
A unique characteristic of East German kindergartens is the strong educational background of these institutions. Children from age three to six learn to interact with other children, get used to a stable daily routine, and are introduced to the idea of learning. The children stay together in the same group with the same group educator during the three years. The groups are called the little group (kleine Gruppe) for the young children of the age of three, the middle group (mittlere Gruppe) for the children of the age of four and the big group (große Gruppe) for the older children of the age of five.
Two times a day there are lesson-like pre school activities (Beschäftigungen) which all children had to participate in. These activities are planned by the group educator, and last 20 minutes in the little group, 25 minutes in the middle group and 30 minutes in the big group. The contents of the activities are regulated nationwide by a uniform teaching plan, and include German language and speech, children's literature, mathematics, introduction to the socialist life (visiting factories, traffic education, cultural life, introduction to important professions), introduction to natural and scientific phenomena (weather, seasons, sky, stars, rocks etc.), music, sports, artistic and constructive handicrafts and esteeming pieces of art.
There is no teaching of reading, writing or arithmetic, but the fundamental concepts are taught to develop intellectual and motor skills. For instance, introduction to set theory within the numbers up to 10, counting up to 20, handling of quantities, crafts and motor skills exercises to prepare the handwriting, the handling of pencils, scissors, fabrics and glue, and other skills.
Children are also encouraged to take an active role in the running of their kindergartens. Children often serve each other meals, and help to keep the kindergarten clean and tidy. This teaches them self-reliance, respect for their spaces, and to take care of themselves in accordance to their abilities.
Education in primary and secondary schools is required for children from the ages of six until fifteen, and lasts for 9 years. After finishing basic education, each student must pass the basic educational curriculum and is given a certificate by the state. Then students are able to enter a professional technical institutions where they can focus on completing their high school education, and study to get a professional certificate.
Completion of 11 years of school or a professional certificate allows students to enter higher educational establishments or enter professional technical institutions as well; the length of the schooling depends on what the student has chosen.
Entrance to East German Universities is very limited. To attend University education in East Germany one had to attend the erweiterte Oberschule. Access to these schools is restricted to the 2-3 best students per POS class. Entry to the EOS was after grade 8 for 4 years. At 18 years of age every youth either had finished EOS or vocational training. A special form is vocational training with abitur, which lasted 3 years after leaving the POS.
East German universities are very closely linked to both schools and to industry. The universities selected their own students from the applicants. As the school system is centralised, all school certificates were comparable. No university entry exam is necessary, although tuition fees are required. These may be paid up front at the start of the school year, or; they may be paid in installments every two months. If a student fails to pay three consecutive installments, they may be forced out of the university. Even so, a student may redeem himself by enlisting in the Nationale Volksarmee or the Border and Customs Troops, whereupon his tuition fees may be forgiven if he chooses to return to class after his enlistment hitch is up.
Any student whom chooses to discontinue their university education on their own volition during the school year, that student is still required to pay the entire amount of that year's full tuition costs, which are due by August of that year. Failure to pay the fee may result in a large fine being imposed by the state; or serving a sentence of up to 2 years in prison.
Mostly focus on technical education, these universities are highly regarded all over the world to be of a very high standard.
There are basically two ways to get into a university: either via EOS or via apprenticeship plus abitur. For those who found their calling later in life there were Volkshochschulen ("People's Colleges") for night classes and a special university preparation course in a boarding school lasting 1 year in an ABF (Arbeiter- und Bauern Fakultaet; Workers and Farmers College). While everyone can visit the VHS, access to the ABF is restricted to workers and farmers with at least 5 years working experience. This is usually organised by the HR department of the company where they work.
For popular subjects such as information technology, or prestigious subjects such as law or medicine, there are more applicants to university than places. In this case, several criteria are taken into account - school exam, national service time, patriotism, ideology, religious affiliation (better: atheist; worse: religious), Party membership, etc. In the mid-80s there was one important change: those whom want to study informatics can have their national service cut in half.
Agriculture in the GDR:
At the 5th Party Congress of the Socialist Unity Party in July 1958, the SED decided to go ahead with forced collectivization and to complete it by 1965. It was determined that complete collectivization would solve all the problems. At the end of 1959, 45.1% of the agricultural area was under a cooperative, and there were no longer any individual farmers in 365 villages. By 1960 84.1% was under a cooperative or state-owned farm. This massive procurement was achieved by forming groups of loyal workers, students, and proletariat, which were sent to the farmers to "convince" them. These "advertisers" used methods such as smashing windows, breaking in doors, or psychological torment with loudspeaker-vans around the clock, among other things. Any farmers who resisted these methods, had to expect to be humiliated and imprisoned as a class enemy and provocateur. Many farming families saw the only way out of this by being forced to join, to destroy their farms by arson, or to even commit suicide.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the trend in East German agriculture was toward larger units; some crop-producing collectives and state-owned farms combined to create Agricultural Cooperatives holding up to 4,000 or 5,000 hectares. These agribusinesses, known as Cooperative Departments of Crop Production ("Kooperative Abteilung Pflanzenproduktion" – KAP"), corresponding to the Soviet kolkhoz, which included food-processing establishments, became the dominant form of agricultural enterprise in crop production. In the early 1980s, specialization also increased to include livestock production. After collectivization was achieved, a phase of industrialization occurred to bring rural work more in line with industry. In order to improve the efficiency of the cooperatives, in 1973 they were separated into plant-based agriculture and animal husbandry. The intended effects were not achieved, and on the contrary, there was competition between the plant-based agriculture and animal husbandry cooperatives for scarce resources such as labor. The animal husbandry cooperatives so little need to properly store farm manure, and the plant-based agriculture cooperatives were not required to produce high-quality feed for animals.
The Publicly Owned Estate ("Volkseigenes Gut" – VEG"), corresponding to the Soviet sovkhoz is a state-owned farm in the German Democratic Republic. These VEGs are the successors to former private farms which resulted from the land reform in the Soviet sector of Germany mandated, in the Potsdam Agreement of 1945.
Each VEG is directly integrated into national economic planning. They are either central (formulated by the national government), or subordinated to the district (Bezirk). They are run by a director according to the principle of individual management. Unlike the LPG, the workers employed on a VEG have almost no say in running it.
The share of family farms in agricultural output increased from less than 25% in 1990 to 40%–50% in the 2000s. The number of so-called peasant farms, which began to emerge alongside the traditional household plots since 1991, reached 2,500 in 2004 with average size of 72 hectares. The number of collective and state farms did not change much, decreasing from 2,500 in 1990 to 2,250 in 2003. Over the decade, the average farm became much smaller, and that allowed the agricultural sector to shed half its labor force between 1990 and 2003, from 896 workers per farm in 1990 to 463 in 2003.
Agricultural land remains state-owned, as it was in the Soviet Union and much of the former Eastern Bloc, except for the land in the small household plots that have been privatized by special legislation.
Healthcare in East Germany is provided and supervised by the Ministry of Healthcare and funded by general taxation. East German healthcare is cheap and easily available, although specialized care is still somewhat rare. The State Constitution of the German Democratic Republic has guaranteed all citizens the right to free healthcare since 1949.
The country has maintained the system of privileged medical service for senior government officials, whom are entitled to use the hospital of the Central Committee. It is also available to other patients, but they are required to pay a fee. This is the only such hospital in the country.
Quality healthcare in the GDR is concentrated around urban areas, where purchasing powers are higher, leading to an inequality of health services in the rural areas.
According to the Numbeo global healthcare index, the GDR was ranked 92nd out of 94 countries in 2021 (the country was 57th in 2020).
In an effort to stem East Germany's demographic crisis, the government is implementing a number of programs designed to increase the birth rate and attract more immigrants to alleviate the problem. The government has doubled monthly child support payments, and on top of offering paid maternity leave, also offers a one-time payment of M55,000 to women whom have had a second child since 2007.
Bottom: Regimental Colours. 3:4 ratio banner.
The Nationale Volksarmee (NVA) (English: National People's Army) are the armed forces of the socialist East Germany. It's Service branches are the Landstreitkräfte; the Volksmarine; the Luftstreitkräfte; and the Grenztruppen.
The NVA was established in 1956 during the Cold War. It did not see any significant combat, though its participation with the Soviet Armed Forces against the Czechoslovak interim government during the Prague Spring of 1968 was cancelled at the last minute. Since 2022, it has actively participated in the Russian-Ukrainian War in cooperation with Russian, and Belarusian forces. An estimated 10,000 East German troops are on the ground in eastern Ukraine, as of August 2022. The NVA reached 195,000 active personnel in 2022.
Compulsory military service had been introduced in 1956 in West Germany, one year after the West German military was established, but the GDR held back from this step until 1962. The situation changed when the border was sealed in August 1961, and five months later the government announced a mandatory service term of 18 months for men. In October 2021, this was raised to 21 months. Serving soldiers receive a stipend of M2,700 compared to the basic M69,000 salary of regular or contract soldiers. These young conscripts, many the subject of political call-ups, receive 3,000% less pay that their East German compatriots in the regular army, whom make almost 200% less than their American counterparts. This trend follows up the chain of command, with increasingly extreme disparity at the highest ranks in salary for the most senior officers. Senior East German officers often receive a pension of just over one-third of their service salary. However, they are given preferential priority for housing.
There was, at first, no alternative service for conscientious objectors. This changed in 1964 when, under pressure from the national Protestant church, the GDR's National Defence Council authorised the formation of Baueinheiten (construction units) for men of draft age whom "refuse military service with weapons on the grounds of religious viewpoints or for similar reasons".
The construction soldiers wear uniforms and live in barracks under military discipline, but are not required to bear arms, and receive little or no combat training. In theory, they are to be used only for civilian construction projects. The GDR therefore became the only Warsaw Pact country to provide a non-combat alternative for conscientious objectors. However, fearing that other soldiers could be contaminated by pacifist ideas, the government now takes care to segregate the construction units from regular conscripts. Moreover, conscripts whom choose the alternative service option often face discrimination later in life, including denial of opportunities for higher education.
After World War II, chefs in the German Democratic Republic have proven their creativity and adaptability, by developing recipes that made hearty meals, despite a limited selection of ingredients.
What has emerged on the scene, is a country with distinct culinary influences in various locations. East Germany cuisine relies mainly on local produce and mostly meats, mixed with a variety of spices to create unique flavors that previously may not have been explored before the War.
To understand East German food better, it is necessary to briefly recall its history. East Berlin, now a city of 2 million people, has been through much change over the last few centuries. Food history could go all the way back to the Neolithic Age when gruel was a main staple, but it is the period between 1700-1871 when Frederick the Great of Prussia ruled that some novel (for the period) foods were to become dietary staples – cucumbers and potatoes. These two items had been brought to Europe from America a few hundred years earlier, but they became favorite foods at this point because they fit the frugal lifestyle encouraged by the Prussian king. They remain favorites and both are found in many recipes.
In 1949, tensions between the Soviet Union, the United States, France, and Great Britain led to the formations of the German Democratic Republic, and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Since the Soviet Union oversaw the formation of the GDR, it had a heavy influence over the East German culture, including food. Much of that influence remains in popular recipes.
Germany has always approached food from a practical perspective. In the book, "Bratwurst & Beyond: A History of Food in Germany,” author Ursula Heinzelmann shares extensive research on German food. In Sabine Welserin’s 16th-century Augsburg recipe collection, Heinzelmann discovered filling bread was used a binding agent in sauces because cream was saved to make butter. Also in the cookbook was a Lebkuchen (gingerbread) recipe. To this day there are parts of East Germany where carp is cooked a particular way and sauce is bound with gingerbread.
The landscape is as much an influence as history. For example, in the east-central regions, a significant portion of the countryside is covered by the Thüringer Wald forest, the Thüringer Schiefergebirge mountains and agricultural fields. The fields yield a variety of vegetables and fruits, and the forest supports a large wild game population. Many regional dishes include ingredients like cabbage, turnips, cauliflower and turnips. Wurst (German sausage and cold cuts) is extremely popular. Sausage casings are filled with chopped meat like pork, cooked, and eaten alone or with bread. The hundreds of types of Wurst are often served with sauerkraut and potato salad. In Saxony, the food is a bit different, once again because of the landscape. With several regions, Erzgebirge has the Ore Mountains forming a natural border between Bohemia and Saxony and Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland). Saxon Switzerland has two mountain ranges – Ore Mountains and Lausitzer Bergland with the Elbe River flowing between.
East German food has two distinctive themes. In Saxon Switzerland, for example, recipes are based on available local foods in the mountainous areas, like quark, potatoes and flax seed. The Prussian influence is seen in the unusual potato salad recipe from the GDR's Lausitze region. It includes potatoes and fresh cucumber, along with sour cream, horseradish, carrots, peas, and onions.
Cities like Dresden, often compared to Florence, have been greatly influenced by the availability of culturally diverse ingredients, leading to more sophisticated foods like Saxon Sauerbraten (braised marinated beef) and Dominosteine petit fours. When in Dresden, tourists are encouraged to visit the Raskolnikoff restaurant to try classic Germany fare that is thought to be both simple, and sophisticated at the same time. Dresdner Stollen (sweetbread) is considered a national treasure, and dates all the way back to the 14th century.
Soviet Influence Remains in the Food
The Soviet influence on east Germany food is felt to this day. Solyanka remains a popular food. Traditionally, it is a thick and spicy soup made with a meat and cucumber pickles, capers, olives, dill and parsley. Today it is made at home, and sold in cans in grocery stores. It is also sold in some East German cantinas.
Jägerschnitzel “hunter’s cutlet” is sliced pork in a creamy mushroom or burgundy-mushroom sauce with onions. The east German variant uses Jagdwurst, a type of sausage made of pork and bacon mixed with mace, ginger, coriander and ground mustard. Also from the Soviet era is Filinchen; a thin, crispy bread eaten with jams, sausage, or spreads. Of course, East German Jägerschnitzel is not always served with mushroom cream sauce. Rather, it is most often served alongside Spirelli noodles and tomato sauce (on the base of concentrated tomato puree, and a roux as a substitute for fresh and/or canned tomatoes). The sauce is so commonplace, and tastes the same way everywhere in the country, that it is also called "Ringleitungssoße" ('circular pipeline sauce'), because it is joked that all restaurants are all connected to one long pipeline of tomato sauce. In the past, the East German government has tried to hail this as a triumph of proletarian power, but this assertion has been roundly met with ridicule from German foodies. As a result, the government has in recent years endeavored to lure Italian and Spanish chefs to come and work in the GDR, in what has been seen as an overt attempt to diversify the culinary landscape of the country.
The hearty and filling eastern German foods based in the past, long before the GDR was formed, includes items like braised cucumbers and carrot stew. Gulasch mit Kartoffelkloessen is goulash with potato dumplings. Bauernfruehstueck is a farmer’s breakfast designed to sustain hard-working laborers in the fields and is made with fried potatoes, smoked ham, eggs, onion and bacon.
Currywurst is a fairly new entrant on the list of favorite German foods by historical standards. The pork sausage in English curry-stewed tomato sauce, was created in 1949, in post-war Berlin. It was called the “poor man’s steak” because good meat was unaffordable at the time and it continues to represent the everyday German. The recipe in east Germany is different than the rest of the country because the sausage has no casing. The caseless version is due to the fact sausage casing was not readily available in the GDR.
Some odd facts about Noristoniaka. Just because I am a little bored.
Today at 20:10 - NYT (new york time i guess.) I'm gonna do myself a challenge, i will like every single Galway-dublin political post whether right or left, up and down, socialist, capitalist, y'know political stuff, for approximately 10 days and if fail i will restart by day 1, starting today.
Fun fact: In the Teardown Steam Workshop, there was an item called "Spawnable Pride Flag" submitted to celebrate Pride Month. The comments are filled with homophobic comments, mostly people saying how they will burn it, despite not knowing how it is indestructible.
I completely agree! It feels like the child of Paris and Munich. The Hungarian Parliament is probably my favorite part - I truly cannot describe how magnificent that building is!