volkseigener betrieb

German Vocab (& History) - East Germany #2 - Political Structure

I’ll be doing a series on vocab related to East Germany, but not only will I put the vocab, I’ll also explain the historical context behind the term - e.g. if I just say “die Bodenreform means land reform” you’re gonna be nonethewiser.

This one is about the political structure of the DDR and the SED in general. In the notes I give, if I use a German term that you don’t know, look at my last East German vocab post and it’ll be there - enjoy! :)

Words (explanations at the bottom)

1. die DDR – the German Democratic Republic
2. die Sowjetische Kontrollkomission/die SKK – the Soviet Control Comisssion/the SKK
3. die Länderkammer – the Chamber of States
4. der Staatsrat – the Council of State
5. der Bezirk(e) – the county
6. der Demokratische Block &– the Democratic Block
7. die Blockparteien – the bloc parties
8. die DBD (Demokratische Bauernpartei Deutschlands) – the Democratic Farmers‘ Party of Germany
9. die NDPD (National-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands) – the National Democratic Party of Germany
10. der Transmissionsriemen(-) – the transmission belt
11. die Massenorganisationen – the mass organisations
12. der FDGB (Freie Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund) – the Free German Trade Union Federation
13. die FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend) – the Free German Youth
14. der DFD (Demokratische Frauenbund Deutschlands) – the Democratic Women’s League of Germany
15. der KB (Kulturbund) – the Culture Association
16. die DSF (Gesellschaft für deutsch-sowjetische Freundschaft) – the Society for German-Soviet Friendship

–From here, the vocab. is based on the SED (die Sozialistische Einheitspartei)-

17. der Erste Sekretär/der Generalsekretär – the first secretary/general secretary
18. das Politbüro – the political office; sometimes kept as “the Politburo”
19. der Parteitag(e) – the party conference
20. das Zentralkomitee(s) – the central committee
21. der demokratisch Zentralismus – the democratic centralism
22. die Parteidisziplin – the party discipline
23. die Verstaatlichung – the nationalisation
24. die HO (Handels-Organisation) – the Trade Organisation
25. der VEB (volkseigene Betrieb) – the „people’s own company“
26. die Staatliche Plankommission – the State Planning Comission
27. die Volkspolizei – the People’s Police
28. das Ministerium des Innern – the Interior Ministry
29. die Stasi (das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit) – the Ministry for State Security
30. die IM (Informelle Mitarbeiter) – the Informal Collaborators
31. der [Un]Rechtsstaat(en) -  the [Un]Just State
32. das Justizministerium – the Justice Ministry
33. die Parteilichkeit – the partisanship
34. der Mitläufer(-) – the conformist/follower
35. die Gleichschaltung – the synchronisation


1. East Germany
2. Replacement of the SMAD and oversaw the leadership of East Germany. Active 10th October 1949 – 28th May 1953.
3. In East German’s parliament (Volkskammer), this was the chamber representing each state.
4. This replaced the president of the Volkskammer, Wilhelm Pieck, when he died & was jointly elected by the Volks- & Länderkammer.
5. The 5 states were split up into counties and thus the Länderkammer was dissolved.
6. Alliance of political parties and mass organisation fighting for democracy – it was later renamed die Nationale Front in 1950 and lasted until ’73.
7. The parties that allied with the SED in the bloc – the CDU, the LDPD, the DBD, and the NDPD.
8. Political party set up to encourage farmers about supporting socialism.
9. Political party set up to present socialism to reformed Nazi members.
10. Historian Herrman Weber uses this term to describe the bloc parties; because like transmission in a car, they were the gears enabling SED to put its policies to the whole nation.
11. Organisations that represented a certain group of society; were in die Nationale Front.
12. Trade union set up to convince workers of party policies and to avert strikes etc.
13. Youth group for 14-18 year olds; younger children belonged to die Pionierorganisation (often called the Young Pioneers).
14. Group mobilising women for socialism.
15. Group representing intellectual and cultural pursuits, from Opera to Chess.
16. Group demonstrating loyalty to communism by being friendly with the ‘mother country’.
17. The leader of the SED, 1st Secretary was name used in 1953-76 and General thereafter.
18. Group of 20 high-profile SED members led by the Secretary; issued political policy.
19. The SED’s party conference, held every 4/5 years.
20. 200 SED members elected at the Parteita; issued political policy but were beneath the Politburo.
21. An organisational system whereby all policy is managed and directed by a central government.
22. A principle in the SED where all party policy/instructions were binding on members.
23. Where a company goes from private ownership to state ownership – by the 50s most of DDR trades were nationalised.
24. State owned trading organisation with privileged access to goods; put many private businesses out of business.
25. Companies under control of the central ministries and the central economic plan.
26. Another organisation from the SED which oversaw control of VEBs.
27. Main police force in East Germany, but closer to a military in many circumstances.
28. Managed internal affairs in the DDR, e.g. Volkspolizei, the approval of Massenorganisationen.
29. Books have been devoted to this taskforce. The Stasi were secret police in the DDR and investigated anyone thought to be against socialism – their motto “Schild und Schwert der Partei” (Shield and sword of the party) shows their allegiance towards the SED. T’was formed 8th Feb. 1950 and had nearly 100,000 members.
30. A person who delivered secret information to the Stasi, hundreds and thousands of people worked as IMs.
31. In principle, the DDR was a “Just State” since it wasn’t doing anything unconstitutional, but based on how politicised the constitution was it was essentially an “Unjust State” in disguise.
32. SED department appointing Judges, Lawyers and deciding on the guidance of the law.
33. Strong devotion to political party – high sense of this in the DDR constitution.
34. Many people in the DDR acted like this and hid their anti-socialist feelings behind a façade.
35. The DDR arguably managed to achieve this in society better than the Nazis, in the sense of how “in sync” all institutions worked with each other.