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New Left Review I/132, March-April 1982

Gunter Minnerup

East Germany’s Frozen Revolution

Ever since 1917 the creation of a workers state in Germany had been the dream of the international communist movement. A socialist revolution in the largest industrial country of Europe, the birthplace of Marxism and home of the most numerous and best-organized proletariat of the world, would finally end the disastrous isolation of backward, Bolshevik Russia from the centres of advanced capitalist culture and technology. In this sense, then, the creation of the German Democratic Republic in October 1949 was a truly historic occasion. Yet today, over three decades later, it is clear that the existence of the ‘first German workers and peasants state’ has done little to advance the cause of socialism in Western Europe or to overcome the bureaucratic deformations of the Soviet Union. The gdr is the second largest economic power in comecon, and eighth in the world; it has a per capita Gross National Product higher than Britain’s or Italy’s; and therefore (with the partial exception of Czechoslovakia) is the only member of the ‘socialist camp’ to rank with the most developed capitalist countries. [1] The figures (in us dollars) for 1978 were: gdr 6,808, uk 5,895, Italy 4,316 (by comparison, the figures for some other Eastern bloc countries: Hungary 2,737, Czechoslovakia 2,654, Poland 1,682, ussr 2,462). Source: European Marketing Data and Statistics 1981, London 1980, p. 155. These achievements have served to buttress the strategic position of the Soviet Union and have enabled the gdr to supply valuable aid to anti-imperialist movements and states. But the gdr has not developed into a pole of attraction for the workers of the world, and has perfected a Stalinist system which negates the socialist potential of its advanced economy.

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