GHDI logo
German History in Documents and Images
return to system

Stalinstadt (later: Eisenhüttenstadt) (1960)
To safeguard GDR steel production and build up heavy industry (a central objective of the first Five-Year Plan), the SED’s 3rd Party Congress (July 20-24, 1950) resolved to build the Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost [Steelworks Complex East]. At the same time, party members decided that an adjacent residential city would be built from the ground up to house employees of the new plant. (Here, comparisons can be drawn to the model city of Wolfsburg, in Lower Saxony, which was built for Volkswagen factory workers from 1938 on.) GDR architects and planners envisaged their new city as the “first Socialist town on German soil.” Just as the steelworks went on to serve as an industrial showpiece for the regime, the city itself functioned as one of the GDR’s new model communities [“neue Städte”]. With its carefully laid out building complexes, streets, and squares, this new city – created on a drawing board – was supposed to reflect Socialist standards, underscore the collective ideal, and point to a more promising future. In May 1953, two months after Stalin’s death, the city was named Stalinstadt in his honor. During a period of de-Stalinization in 1961, the city was renamed Eisenhüttenstadt (literally “Steel Works City”), the name it still bears today. The picture below shows three high-rise, prefabricated slab housing units [Plattenbauten] (right background) of a type common in Eisenhüttenstadt and other East German cities. Photo: Gerhard Kiesling.