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Report of the Central Party Control Commission of the SED on the Emergence and Goals of the "Harich Group" (March 26, 1957)

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In this context, Harich also made certain remarks about changes that were necessary in the German Democratic Republic. For example, he spoke about dissolving the unprofitable agricultural production cooperatives, about promoting the middle class and dissolving the artisan cooperatives, about decentralizing the economy and the apparatus of the state. [ . . . ]

On the basis of the views expressed here by Harich, there was a far-reaching consensus with the opinions of the editors Just and Zöger of the Sonntag. Just, in particular, was of the opinion that it was absolutely necessary to carry out an analysis of the past, to discuss the mistakes of the past broadly, in order to look for the general error that caused all the other mistakes by the party.

Here, Just offered the following justification: “Until June 1953, the party made policy without the masses. In June 1953, this false policy was corrected by the new course. However, the party lacks the theoretical justification for this change. That is why the party has been working since 1953 without a theoretical foundation.”

Since Just also demanded a broad liberalization, his call for a new theoretical foundation was aimed against the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In Harich, he saw someone who was both able and called to provide the new theoretical justification, that is, the revision of Marxism-Leninism. Zöger essentially agreed with these views.

Harich won over the party secretary, comrade Schubert, in the following way: in a personal conversation, he told him that the colleagues in the Aufbau Verlag were very skeptical toward him. The reason for that was his membership in and work for the party leadership of his former basic organization at Karl Marx University in Leipzig. As a member of the party leadership, he had participated in the expulsion of two students, that is, he had taken a hard line. It would therefore be better if he behaved differently in the Aufbau Verlag. Since comrade Schubert, like the majority of the other members of the party organization, already had reservations about the policy of the party at this time, Harich was able to promote the softening-up of comrade Schubert.

At some point later, he presented his views to comrade Schubert in a personal conversation. In the process, he expressed the following opinion as his starting point: “The foundation of our politics should be that one must not deepen the division of Germany. Hence, one should not be overly hasty in building up Socialism.”

This conversation took place at the end of July or the beginning of August. At this time, Harich was thus already advocating the view that the building up of Socialism was deepening the division of Germany. In addition, he told Schubert what he was specifically suggesting as the party’s policy. These suggestions involved, once again: the dissolution of the unprofitable agricultural production cooperatives, the dissolution of the artisan cooperatives, the promotion of the middle class, the decentralization of the economy, and the dismantling of the state apparatus.

In the process, Harich also mentioned that is was necessary to change the party leadership. Schubert essentially agreed with Harich’s views. [ . . . ]

Source: Dierk Hoffman, Karl-Heinz Schmidt, and Peter Skyba, eds., Die DDR vor dem Mauerbau: Dokumente zur Geschichte des anderen deutschen Staates 1949-1961 [The GDR before the Building of the Wall: Documents on the History of the other German State 1949-1961]. Munich: Piper, 1993, pp. 268-74.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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