The practical year presupposes that the members of the intelligentsia can fulfill their tasks in the build-up of Socialism only in close alliance with the working class and the working farmers. That is why the academic youth must first go through the school of production, perform a practical year in Socialist production enterprises, before they can begin their studies at universities and colleges.
During this year’s admission, the universities and colleges for the first time selected the applicants slated for the practical year and reserved slots for them for the 1958/59 academic year. The 3,500 preselected applicants will begin their studies at universities and colleges in the coming year, provided they have demonstrated during their practical year – through good work discipline and a social attitude – that they deserve to begin their studies in our workers’ and farmers’ state.
This measure, which connects the future student more strongly to the working class and is intended to educate him to a higher sense of responsibility toward the workers’ and farmers’ state, also establishes closer ties between the universities and the Socialist enterprises. [ . . . ]
The work of the protectorates for university affairs and of the State Secretariat for Higher Education
A review of the work of the protectorates revealed that the admissions work by the protectorates was carried out thoroughly, deliberately, and with political understanding. The proposals were first discussed with the appropriate party and FDJ [Free German Youth] leadership. The party leadership on higher education everywhere was engaged in preparation for the admissions work.
Above all, the collaboration of the protectorates for university affairs with the secondary schools has improved significantly. The participation of representatives of the secondary schools and the democratic public in the meetings of the admission committees has increased substantially. The example of Karl Marx University in Leipzig, in particular, has contributed to this improved collaboration with the secondary schools. There, liaison teachers were appointed at every secondary school, and they were instructed by the university to support the university guidance at secondary schools, discuss in parents’ meetings the proposals of the secondary schools for the decisions of the admission committees, and participate in explaining the practical year.
The responsibly-minded work of the protectorates has succeeded in
1. selecting the best applicants according to the overall evaluation, all of whom belong to the FDJ or held offices in it or the GST [Society for Sport and Technology],
2. admitting applicants with good and very good knowledge who meet the requirements of their fields,
3. ensuring a very high proportion of workers’ and farmers’ children in the admissions.
One drawback was the small proportion of SED members and candidates among those admitted. This is due to the fact that most Abitur graduates are coming directly from the secondary schools and are still very young. Among the students coming from enterprises, too, very few are members of the party.
What continues to make the work of the protectorates and the selection of applicants by the admission committees difficult is the fact that the evaluation by the secondary schools is for the most part very formal. It generally includes a list of functions and a series of minor points that are already apparent in the questionnaire. However, it almost always lacks
1. an evaluation of the political influence of the home and its role in the social life,
2. an evaluation of the political conduct of the applicant himself,
3. an evaluation of ties to West Germany: parents who have fled the Republic, siblings in West Germany, and so on,
4. indications of religious ties, possibly active participation in the Young Congregation [Junge Gemeinde],
5. information for the university about those applicants who could, with further political work, become SED candidates within a short period.
The same goes for the evaluations that come from the enterprises as well, but most especially from scientific institutes or institutions within the health care system. In the latter cases, there is for the most part merely an evaluation of the professional aptitude of the applicant by the teacher, which may also be signed by the cadre leader and BGL chairperson [chair of the enterprise trade union]. [ . . . ]
Source: BArch, DR 2/5650; 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. 8/176.
Translation: Thomas Dunlap