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Report by the Central Women’s Committee (Bergmann-Borsig) on the Tenth Anniversary of the Women’s Committees (1962)

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These few examples alone clearly show that the economic, party, and union functionaries underestimate the role of women in socialist society.

How does the Bergmann-Borsig enterprise intend, for example, to get more women to train for a technical vocation if current practice clearly demonstrates that qualified women who are already here are left to rot?

In addition, we note that our [male] co-workers in leadership positions are engaged in cadre politics that run counter to the nature of our state. For example, when a “well-paid permanent position” has to be filled it is common practice to hire a man. And it matters nothing that he has come from an unrelated area of work. He is immediately given the corresponding salary. Instead of entrusting a long-time, work-experienced female colleague with this job and offering support, this colleague has the honor of imparting her knowledge and experience to the person who knows nothing. What goes without saying for male colleagues with a university degree becomes a problem for women. [ . . . ]

A few more remarks about the activist movement. Over the past ten years, 24 female colleagues have received a state award – an activist award or a medal for outstanding performance. Among them are three colleagues, colleague T., colleague S., and colleague J., who received this award twice. And we can proudly report that colleague F. R. is already a six-time activist. She is also the one who, as the only representative of our enterprise in the highest organ of our state, the People’s Chamber [Volkskammer], represents the interests of the workers as a deputy.

This stands in sharp contrast to the number of activist designations among our 456 male colleagues. This is truly a disgraceful balance sheet for the men. We most certainly cannot claim that our women and girls have no or fewer activist accomplishments. No, that is not the way it is. But why does one not see the performance of our female workers at the stamping press in the generator building or in the milling shop, women who work diligently and with a sense of responsibility in the shift system, who avoid waiting periods, do quality work, do not dawdle, who hold their own in the production crew, and take care of the household and the children? Surely only because a few male colleagues do not want to cast off the old attitude of seeing women only as “Kochtopfaspiranten” and “Latschwärmer” [cooking pot aspirants and slipper warmers] and who have not yet grasped the new, the great transformation of women in our socialist state.

Source: LAB (StA), Rep. 432, No. 448; reprinted in Peter Becker and Alfred Luetke, eds., Akten, Eingaben und Schaufenster. Die DDR und ihre Texte. Erkundungen zu Herrschaft und Alltag [Files, Petitions, and Shop Windows. The GDR and its Texts. Explorations of Dictatorship and Everyday Life]. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997, pp. 219-22.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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