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"Ten Years of Social Policy in the Two German States": Article by the Former Director of Social Security of the GDR, Paul Peschke (October 1959)

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In the social insurance of the GDR, the worker and employee is insured and protected against the vicissitudes of life and work. He lives and works in social safety. This is a crucial characteristic of the first German workers’ and farmers’ state during the transition to socialism.

The notion of social security is merging more and more with the certainty of being protected. Under the conditions of socialism, it is slowly losing the old character, since socialist work leads to providing for society. Social work becomes the factor that increasingly determines the benefits.

The balance sheet of ten years of social policy in the two German states shows the following:

In Germany’s Western zone, even the increasingly weakened union demands from the Weimar period for a standardization and self-administration of social security are unfulfilled. “Insured, but not protected,” it says in the practice of the CDU: “Higher social insurance contributions and reduced benefits.”

Contributions and benefits are – and this is something acknowledged also by bourgeois economists – components of the wage, which are in part taken out of the pay envelope, and in part do not show up in it. We are thus dealing admittedly with a reduction in wages; naturally, in favor of the dangerous nuclear armament.

In the German Democratic Republic, the working class has fulfilled the civic revolution that stood still for one hundred years. In the tenth year of its workers’ and farmers’ government, history finds it already at work building socialism. It strides forward in peaceful work for itself and for the socialist society it leads. Thus, like the wage in the pay envelope, the invisible wage that comes to the workers also grows with the increasing benefits of social insurance. Social insurance and free health care in the GDR are, in addition to many other achievements, such as free education and university study for all sciences, already elements of the communist society that is emerging on the horizon, elements that are unfolding in their first flowering in the stage of building up socialism.

If the prospects of social policy in West Germany under the clerical-militaristic rule are pointing backwards, the prospects of social policy in Eastern Germany are shining all the more brightly. Based on the successful struggle that the GDR, as an important part of the socialist camp, is waging against German militarism for the preservation of peace, the peace-loving forces in the Western zone will succeed in overcoming the gloomy shadow of the Adenauer regime and its dangers of the nuclear bomb. Then, and only then, will the gloomy prospects for the West of our homeland transform into the light and joyous social national security.

Source: Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge [Work and Social Welfare] 14 (1959), pp. 604-06; reprinted in Dierk Hoffmann and Michael Schwartz, eds., Geschichte der Sozialpolitik in Deutschland seit 1945. Bd. 8: 1949-1961: Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Im Zeichen des Aufbaus des Sozialismus [History of Social Policy in Germany since 1945, Vol. 8: 1949-1961: German Democratic Republic. Under the Sign of the Build Up of Socialism]. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2004, no. 8/203.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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