The Party Education Year of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany - A source of conflict between the party leadership and the rank and file membership : Foundations, Aims, Problems

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book

Abstract

The Party Education Year (PLJ) instituted by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) in 1950 was the principal vehicle for educating the mass membership in the party’s ideology and for enabling members to propagate the SED leadership’s policies through the rest of the population of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). As such, PLJ records facilitate a deeper understanding of the broad spread of political opinion and ideological understanding within the party’s membership. They reveal that the overwhelming majority of the party membership was apathetic and uninformed about the tenets of Marxism-Leninism, as understood by the party leadership, and that many members openly expressed doubts about and opposition to the central tenets, notably highlighting doubts about the GDR’s economic policies, its class structure and even the very foundations of the state. Further, the SED’s inadequate internal organisation mechanisms hampered the effective delivery of the PLJ over decades, drawing attention to the mismatch between the theory and practice of party discipline and democratic centralism. This article argues that the party was, across the vast breadth of its membership, an organisation in which the guiding ideology was poorly understood, and frequently rejected in whole or part, for much of the GDR’s history. Consequently, the category of SED membership alone has little to say about individual outlooks during the GDR period.
Translated title of the contributionThe Party Education Year of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany - A source of conflict between the party leadership and the rank and file membership : Foundations, Aims, Problems
Original languageGerman
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherHelle Panke - Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Berlin
Number of pages44
Volume129
Editionhefte zur ddr-geschichte
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

The helle panke publications appear without ISBN numbers as the organisation does not wish to be bound to Germany's regulations concerning book pricing. However, the publications are lodged with Germany's copyright libraries.

Keywords

  • East Germany
  • GDR
  • SED
  • Communism
  • History
  • Politics
  • Political Parties
  • Socialism

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