tions. The agricultural sector suffered from these conditions until the very end of the communist regime.
Although the communist model of society did not recognize the intelligentsia as a separate social class--according to the ideology, socialism was to bring about the elimination of distinctions between manual and mental labor--the intellectuals certainly carved out for themselves a separate niche in socialist society.
In the years before and after the establishment of East Germany, the communists were compelled to use the intelligentsia who had grown up and received their education in Nazi Germany. Although all sorts of privileges were granted to these people, a yearly flow of about 5,000 of them left for West Germany between 1949 and 1961. Thus, the communist regime was forced to raise its own intelligentsia and this was gradually accomplished. People with working-class backgrounds were sent to schools and educated. Children of intellectuals, if their parents were loyal to East Germany, were also permitted to enter this social stratum. By 1964, about 80 percent of all college and university graduates had completed their education after 1951. Yet, the regime could not admit that the intelligentsia had become a new elite; this would have denigrated the party's leading role in society. Nevertheless, reality intruded in this as in other matters into ideology.
Summing it up, it seems clear that society in East Germany has undergone important changes. The industrialists who possessed immense wealth disappeared from society. Their properties were confiscated, and most of them left for West Germany. The large landowners also disappeared. Their estates were confiscated and distributed among the peasantry. In turn, the peasants were forced into the collectives and became salaried employees of their enterprises, ultimately of the state. Women were drawn in large numbers into the work force, altering traditional marriage patterns. There was a considerable leveling of incomes and, thus, differentiations based on income were lessened. At the same time, a new elite emerged from the intelligentsia loyal to the communist regime. These included not only the engineers and technicians in industry, but also creative people, writers, artists, and even sportsmen. Teachers and university instructors were also members of this stratum. Although the communist nomenklatura was not included among the intelligentsia, its members certainly lived like intellectuals. Many members of the state bureaucracy were also included in this stratum of society. In the final count, however, East German social developments did not greatly differ from those in other developing societies the world over, Marxist-Leninist ideology notwithstanding.
Dennis Mike, The German Democratic Republic: Politics, Economics, and Society ( London, 1988).
Soviet Policies in the Soviet Occupational Zone of Germany. The Soviet Union originally did not expect to remain in occupation of Germany for long. This was evident in the thorough looting of the zone of most of its industrial and agricultural mov
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Dictionary of East European History since 1945. Contributors: Joseph Held - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 226.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.