Unemployment and Job Market Policy in the Transition from Planned to Market Economy and the Role of the Treuhandanstalt, 1988–1998

Employees (IfZ):  Prof. Dr. Dierk Hoffmann

The process of privatizing state-run companies not only led to the disappearance of the GDR working society but also the people’s collective security in the knowledge of a guaranteed job. The wave of company closings that began in 1990/91 led to a rapid increase in unemployment figures in East Germany. The collective experience of job loss, for which the Treuhandanstalt has been largely held responsible, led to new social inequalities and has influenced the political attitudes and mentalities of many in eastern Germany to this day. Taking into account the existence of the Treuhandanstalt’s own Office for Employment, the project delves into the questions of whether and how mass unemployment in eastern Germany affected the agency’s privatization policies. This is both a question of concepts and ideas as well as the measures that were taken in the end. The Treuhandanstalt was indeed connected to projects at the state level that served to preserve individual companies considered to be capable of successful restructuring. Measures connected to job market policies gained in importance within this context as was the case for the ANKER Project in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the ATLAS Project in Saxony. The study will, moreover, investigate the consequences for individual companies and the experiences of those affected in selected cases.

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