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Robert Havemann's "Ten Theses" on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the GDR (September 1, 1979)

In an article written on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the GDR, natural scientist Robert Havemann, East Germany’s most prominent dissident, praises the GDR as a new beginning while simultaneously attacking its many authoritarian shortcomings. In doing so, he demands a return to socialist ideals based upon human rights and political freedom. At the end of the article, Havemann outlines some concrete steps the GDR could take toward a more democratic form of socialism, one being the very publication of his “ten theses” in Neues Deutschland, the official mouthpiece of the SED. As it turned out, however, Havemann’s theses were published a month later in the left-of-center West German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

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And the Last Bit of Trust Fades Away …

1. In the thirty years since its founding, the GDR has overcome many of the material and political consequences of the Second World War. By building up productive, modern industries and making considerable improvements in the area of agriculture, the GDR created the material foundation that constitutes the prerequisite for the step-by-step development of a free, socialist social order. In contrast to the FGR, the old system of class rule was not restored in the GDR. Here, that form of rule was abolished once and for all after the victory of the Allied forces over the Hitler dictatorship in 1945, and it was done with the approval of the vast majority of the people. Through the elimination of private ownership of the means of production, the material basis of capitalism was removed and the decisive foundation for the development of socialist production conditions was created.

2. The reconstruction of a country devastated by war demanded great sacrifices by the workers and peasants. West German and multinational corporations, which still hope to liberate the GDR according to their own vision, used every possible economic and political means to obstruct and hinder it. But the people’s striving for security and peaceful cooperation proved stronger. An important step along the way was the international recognition of the GDR and the acceptance of both German states into the United Nations and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki, the Final Act of which (The Helsinki Accords) is a program for general peace and the protection of human rights.

3. But economic and political developments in the GDR were obstructed not only from the outside and not only by the West German and international opponents of socialism. Stalinism – a common yet misleading word for the dictatorship of the party apparatus – was still in full bloom in the Soviet Union and, accordingly, in the countries occupied by Soviet troops, until 1956. The worst crimes of this tragic period were dealt with at the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union]. But the dictatorship of the central party apparatus, which is not subject to any democratic controls, continues to this day in the countries of real socialism.

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