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Walter Ulbricht: The Second Five-Year Plan and the Building Up of Socialism in the German Democratic Republic (1956)

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The proud results of the first Five-Year Plan have created a good foundation for the second Five-Year Plan and for further successes of Socialist rebuilding. Those workers who were not yet convinced at the start of the first Five-Year Plan have by now been convinced by life itself. And with regard to opponents in West Germany: they are forced to acknowledge that they have suffered a defeat at the hands of the workers, the farmers, the intelligentsia, and the other working people of the German Democratic Republic. All of the opponents’ measures of diversion and sabotage have proven useless. At the end of the first Five-Year Plan, representatives from all over the world, friends, neutral businesspeople, as well as enemies were able to convince themselves on the occasion of the Leipzig Fair that the policies of the German Democratic Republic and its planned economy have great prospects.
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On the development of Socialist culture

The crucial cultural task in the second Five-Year Plan lies in developing a Socialist culture in the German Democratic Republic and transmitting it to the entire nation. The building up of Socialism demands that working people continuously raise their cultural level and acquire the most progressive insights afforded by technology and science in order to raise their labor productivity and to fully employ their creative powers in realizing the great goals of our second Five-Year Plan. Significant improvements must occur in fulfilling this fundamental task of developing Socialist culture through and for the people; in fact, a fundamental change in cultural mass work must occur. The Comrades in the Free German Trade Union Federation must ensure that the houses of culture of the state-owned enterprises become real centers for the social and cultural life of all working people, places of professional and ideological education, of artistic activity by the people, of entertainment and relaxation. The significant funds that our workers’ and farmers’ state is investing in these cultural houses and spaces should prompt the industrial unions and all responsible comrade cultural workers to wage an untiring battle for the positive utilization of these houses of culture, for the development of a rich cultural life within them.

As with the houses of culture, the people’s parks, the parks of culture and relaxation, must also be turned into genuine cultural centers. There, as well, a multitude of interesting forms of cultural work, such as exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, theater performances, poetry readings, concerts, sports competitions, new popular games, dances, and song recitals should be meaningfully combined with entertainment, relaxation, and fun, especially for young people. The development of Socialist cultural work must be especially promoted in the building of the combine “Black Pump.” Young people are to be given their own room in all houses of culture. The houses of culture and cultural spaces are to be used to further develop the great dialogue with young people. At the Youth Forums, the functionaries of the party, the state, and the unions should answer the questions of young people even more vigorously than before, to enlighten them about the tasks and prospects involved in the construction of Socialism. The houses of culture, youth facilities, and sports facilities must be put to better use to counsel young people on questions relating to vocational training and continuing professional education, to educate them to responsible collaboration in the state and the economy, and to create an interesting and joyful youth life of sports, hiking, and recreation.

Part of the change in the cultural mass work is that the utmost effort is devoted to making art a matter of the entire nation. This requires public discussions of literature and art, participation in shaping the program of movie theaters, visitor conferences in the theaters, the inclusion of broad circles of the population and permanent commissions in drawing up, implementing, and overseeing the cultural development plans in the counties and districts. The work of the German Concert Agency must not only expand quantitatively in the second Five-Year Plan, but it must also, and above all, raise its level considerably in order to unite, in its programs, artistic offerings with good entertainment in the Socialist spirit.

The cultural transformation that has begun in the countryside means creating a new, culturally rich, and more beautiful life in the villages as well. The center of cultural work in rural areas must be the house of culture at the machine and tractor station. In the course of the second Five-Year Plan, films must come to the villages twice a week, whereby performance venues, apparatuses, and the means of transportation should be continuously elevated to a higher technical level, and new performance venues should be created. Two construction models will be developed for the 75 new rural houses of culture to be built in the second half of our Five-Year Plan. Kindergartens, sewing rooms, and so on should be included in the plans. The creation of new itinerant theater groups in the districts of Neubrandenburg, Frankfurt (Oder), and Suhl will ensure that a growing number of performances will take place in the houses of culture and other performance venues in these rural areas. We believe it is practical for the Ministry of Culture and its organs in the districts and counties to assume responsibility for guiding the houses of culture and art in the countryside, especially at the machine and tractor stations.

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