The SED between the Construction and the Fall of the Wall: Structures, Elites, and Conflicts, 1961-1989


In this project, Andreas Malycha analyzes the structural internal workings and the struggles within the East German ruling party’s inner circle of power. The study focuses on party-internal conflicts and decision-making processes in the SED at different organizational levels and the central party level in particular, the political-social development of party membership, and the relationship between the party’s center and its districts between 1961 and 1989/90. Political debates, currents, and power struggles within the SED Politburo all played a central role here. This includes conflicts resulting from the transition to an ambitious social policy, which would lead to the erosion of the economic basis for SED rule. Beginning in the second half of the 1970s, objections were raised against the decision to increase social benefits for the sake of short-term stability, all at the expense of the stability of the country in the middle- to long-term. This in turn led to disputes at the highest level of the party. The background and motives behind these conflicts are analyzed in the project on the basis of archival materials.

The study constitutes the first comprehensive depiction of the mechanisms of rule within the East German ruling party during the Honecker era, focusing on the Politburo, Secretariat of the Central Committee, and the central party apparatus of the SED as the anchors of the communist dictatorship.

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