The GDR - A workers' paradise?

Mind Map by Foruvaak, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by Foruvaak over 4 years ago


A mind map discussing the early years of the GDR and how successful it was as a functioning socialist nation.

Resource summary

The GDR - A workers' paradise?
1.1 The entire population was given basic security in housing, employment and welfare
1.1.1 Everyone was entitled to educational opportunities Peasants' and workers' faculties were set up to aid the more vulnerable members of society. Efforts were made to help women enter the workforce eg nurseries attached to factories. Working class children were given help advancing at the cost of middle-class children. However this imbalance was addressed in the 1960s, with talents and skills becoming prized over background
1.1.2 Everyone who could work had a job - in fact, you could be punished for being unemployed. All workers had to be part of the FGDB (Free German Trade Federation) This provided legal protection, arbitration and organised holidays, but also reported all subversive activity.
1.2 Factories had their own hospitals, flats and nurseries.
1.2.1 Schoolchildren spent one day a week at a production plant Factories had 'wall of fame workers' to encourage high production - eg Adolf Hennecke who exceeded his work norm 387% However, workers were also punished for failing to meet their norms.
1.3 Only the state could give promotions, so to advance you had to have special training available only to political conformists.
2.1 Only officially sanctioned youth organisations were permitted.
2.1.1 Joining the FDJ (ages 14-25) was vital for anyone who wanted educational advancement or a job. The Pioneers were a younger branch of the FDJ for 6-14 year olds, offering educational, cultural and sports programmes A university education was blocked to dissidents, and those from dissident families - even just outspoken Christians Dissident youths were punished - in 1959, 15 youths were arrested for shouting publicly about wanting elements of western culture such as rock 'n' roll Most who failed to join youth organisations did so because of religious reasons.
2.1.2 All private schools were abolished. Marxist-Leninism was a compulsory subject.
2.1.3 The Jugendweihe, a secular state ceremony, replaced confirmation.
3.1 The GDR constitution of 1949 guarunteed equal women's rights before the law.
3.2 Since the 1968 constitution said that work was a duty, 87% of women had a job outside the home
3.2.1 The 1965 New Family Code said that men should take on their share of housework However, women still had shorter work hours and had to take 'housework days off.' They also generally had lower-paid, unskilled jobs.
3.2.2 State nurseries, after-school provision and factory creches aided this.
3.3 The rates of divorce and children born outside marriage rose - this shows that women had more freedom and economic independence.
3.3.1 However, the rates of marriage and remarriage were also high, showing that many women needed the economic support.
4.1 The church was one hindrance to state socialism, as it presented a forum for opposition to the GDR.
4.1.1 Ulbricht tried to weaken the churches throughout the 1950s by removing the church influence in education. The Young Christian Organisation was made illegal. However, the Church still ran old people's homes, childcare centres and hosptials In 1958, it was agreed that the Church would be allowed to exist and that the state would accept religious freedom. In 1969, an East German Church was founded within the state. Any Church leaders who spoke out, such as Otto Dibelius, Bishop of Berlin, were subjected to repeated harassment.
5.1 Art and literature were all monitored.
5.1.1 Western music, literature and art were dismissed as decadent.
5.2 All culture was subject to censorship.
5.2.1 Many writers left for the FRG.
5.2.2 All literature had a political agenda. The exception was Church publications.
6.1 By 1955, the GDR was the wealthiest country in the Soviet bloc.
6.1.1 However, it never really competed with, let alone surpassed the FRG. The GDR's economy was growing at 3% through the 1960s. The FRG's was growing at 8% in the 1950s.
6.2 Those at the bottom of the social ladder had more opportunities in the GDR.
6.2.1 Those higher up found life harder.
7.1 By 1949, 60% of heavy industry had been collectivised. By the late 1950s, all energy production and major iudustries were collectivised.
7.1.1 This allowed labour and machinery to be exploited to the full, however, the original 7000 large farm estates were more efficient than the small farms they were divided up into. 15,000 farmers left for the FRG rather than join collective farms Collectivisation led to food shortages leading to rationing of goods such as milk and butter Farmers received low prices for their crops and were fined for late deliveries - led to disctontentment
7.1.2 SAGs were plants that produced goods specifically for the USSR; there were 213, including some of the most important chemical and engineering plants. VEBs, public-owned enterprises, successfully comprised 76% of industrial production
7.1.3 The first 5-year plan of 1950 doubled industrial output. However, the second 5-year plan failed to increase regional specialisation as intended and was abandoned. The 7-year plan adopted instead aimed to increase production of chemicals, engineered goods and energy. Ulbricht announced that under its influence, the GDR would outstrop the GDR. However this was totally unrealistic and the plan was abandoned in 1962 after an economic downturn.
7.1.4 Problems Little attention was paid to supply and demand. In order to produce enough, managers lowered standards, encouraging poor workmanship. Wages were also kept low. People were discontented at the lack of focus on consumer goods. In 1963, the New Economic Plan aimed to increase consumer good production and allow some decentralisation. However, in 1968, this approach was abandoned after the Prague Spring in favour of more centralisation.
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