"Nationally-Owned Enterprises – The Backbone of the Economic Plan": Representatives of Nationally-Owned Enterprises Meet in Leipzig to Prepare for the Two-Year Plan for 1949/50 (July 4, 1948)
Shortly after the establishment of the Economic Council of the combined U.S.-British Bizone, the Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) issued Order No. 138 of June 4, 1947, which established the German Economic Commission [Deutsche Wirtschaftskommission or DWK]. The DWK was supposed to coordinate the economic activities of the central administrations and states, in order to accelerate the transition to a planned economy. The SMAD's Order No. 32 of February 12, 1948, granted the DWK legislative power as well, and on March 9, 1948, the central administrations were integrated into the DWK as main administrations, thereby centralizing economic management and planning in the Soviet zone. At the end of June 1948, the SED executive committee decided on a Two-Year Plan for 1949/50. This new plan was supposed to succeed the still provisional Half-Year Plan (July-December) for 1948. In early July 1948, about 8,000 delegates from nationally-owned or as the German term expressed it, the people-owned enterprises [Volkseigene Betriebe, or VEB] attended a conference in Leipzig, where DWK Deputy Chairman Fritz Selbmann gave a position paper on the tasks of nationally-owned enterprises. He began with following words: "The people-owned enterprises are the strongest pillar and the backbone of our economic planning policy" ["Die Volkseigenen Betriebe sind die stärkste Stütze und das Rückgrat unserer Politik der Wirtschaftsplanung"]. As we see below, this slogan was also used in propaganda. The DWK accepted the SED's Two-Year Plan for 1949/50 on July 21, 1948. Photo by Herbert Hensky.