The role of the party as vanguard of the working class is realized in the day-to-day strategic guidance of party activity. This makes it possible to direct all aspects of party activity in the areas of government, economy, and cultural life. To achieve this it is necessary to form a collective strategic party leadership by electing a Political Bureau (Politbüro).
[ . . . ]
The Marxist-Leninist party is founded on the principle of democratic centralism. This means strictest adherence to the principle that leading bodies and officers are subject to election and that those elected are accountable to the membership. This internal party democracy is the basis for the tight party discipline which arises from members’ socialist consciousness. Party resolutions are binding on all party members, particularly for those party members active in parliaments, governments, administrative bodes, and in the leadership of the mass organizations.
Democratic centralism means the development of criticism and self-criticism within the party and supervision to ensure that resolutions are rigorously carried out by the leadership and by members.
Toleration of factions and groupings within the party is not consistent with its Marxist-Leninist character.
The Marxist-Leninist party is strengthened by the struggle against opportunism. The working class is not a closed group. The spirit of opportunism is constantly being imported into it by bourgeois elements and calls forth uncertainty and vacillation in its ranks. Therefore the remorseless struggle against all opportunistic influences is an indispensable precondition for strengthening the party’s campaigning power.
The highest class vigilance is the absolute duty of every party member. It is also necessary to prevent the infiltration of spies and agents of the secret services and of Schumacher’s Eastern Bureau into the party and the democratic bodies.
The Marxist-Leninist party is permeated with the spirit of internationalism. This internationalism determines its place in the worldwide conflict between the war propagandists and the forces of peace, between reaction and progress, between capitalism and socialism. In this struggle the Marxist-Leninist party is firmly allied with the forces of peace and democracy, side by side with the People’s Democracies and the revolutionary workers’ parties all over the world. It recognizes the leading role of the CPSU(B) in the struggle against imperialism and declares it to be the duty of all working people to support the socialist Soviet Union with all their might.
Source: “From the Resolution of the 1st Party Conference: the SED becomes a ‘party of the new type’” (January 28, 1949), in J. K. A. Thomaneck and James Mellis, eds., Politics, Society and Government in the German Democratic Republic: Basic Documents. Oxford: Berg, 1989, pp. 47-49. [Please note: the first two paragraphs of the text reproduced here were omitted from the Thomaneck and Mellis translation and translated by GHI staff.]