The SED-Socialist Unity Party



The communist party in East Germany was known as the SED ( Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands ). The SED was founded on April 19, 1949 in the Soviet Zone of Occupation. It brought together two major left wing political organizations, the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party of Germany .In 1981 SED membership totaled 2,172,110. One out every six citizens over 18 were members of the party . Career advancement was tied closely to party membership, and most of the top positions in government and industry were held by party members .Most decisions were not made by rank and file members, but by party cadres .Youth activities were closely monitored by the SED.  After the fall of East Germany, the SED still remained as a minor political party known as The Left (Die Linke) . In 2008 it was fourth largest party in the Bundestag .


 MParade in East Germany in 1950


party meeting in the late 40s


Corruption in the SED





  Die Partei hat immer recht  The Party Is Always Right -

Song of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany

Because there were no checks and balances, legal framework or investigative reporting, the one party state became gangsterism and rife with corruption. There no oversight and the real government accounts and the real state of the economy and the GDR's $34 billion deficit by 1981 was kept a secret even from Honecker . The Nomenklatura ( Russian:'list of names' the Division of Commercial Coordinatione elite who held key positions ) was about 340,000 in 1981 .The government agency Bereich Kommerzielle Koordinierung (Division of Commercial Coordination - koko) was established as a front for vast illegal activities .Confiscated land, houses and national artworks and huge sums of cash ended up in the hands of the party elite .


Farm Collectivization


In the early 50s, the agricultural sector consisted mostly of privately owned farms ( about 750,000) .In 1958-9, these were subjected to pressure to collectivize into farm cooperatives ( Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaften ) and nearly 85% of the arable land was under the control of cooperatives by the mid 60s .As a consequence,  East German cooperatives averaged of around 4,000 hectares when the GDR fell apart in 1989, while West German farms averaged 35 hectares. The land owned by the former owners was returned after reunification .



The Constitution of 1949 provided for two legislative assembles, the Landerkammer (States Chamber) and the Volkskammer (People's Chamber). In  Constitution of 1968 was adopted to declare that the SED to provide the leader for the state, the Constitution of 1948 only stated that the party with the largest number of seats would chose a president . As formally established by the Constitution of 1968, the People's Chamber (a unicameral legislature) was the top organ of state power. As in Soviet systems, the general secretary is the top leader .


The Palace of the Republic (  Palast der Republik ) in 1977, seat of the East German parliament, the Volkskammer. Torn down in 2006 to rebuild the Berlin Stadtschloss, which occupied the site.


The Politburo was the highest decision making body of the Party .It would usually meet once a week, in secret. Meeting were chaired by the General Secretary, a decisions arrived at by consensus vote .In 1981 the Politburo was made up of 25 members. The Secretariat was the 'staff' of the Politburo, who guided implementation of state policy .





The Berlin Wall  1961


The FDJ & Junge Pioniere