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Communiqué on the Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic (June 11, 1953)

In June 1953, the government of the GDR adopted the “New Course” [Neuer Kurs], a policy introduced in the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. The government also proclaimed a political and economic liberalization. Mistakes in the previous policy were acknowledged and concessions were made to the population: the standard of living as a whole was to be improved, prices for certain foodstuffs and for public transportation would be lowered, and small businesses and farms would be returned to their private owners. This even applied to so-called Republikflüchtige, GDR citizens who had fled to the Federal Republic.

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At its meeting on 11 June 1953 the Council of Ministers decided on a number of measures which will correct the mistakes made by the Government and the organs of state administration in the most diverse fields. The measures now resolved on by the Council of Ministers initiate an improvement in the standard of living of the workers and the intelligentsia, of the farmers and artisans, and of the other strata of the middle class.

In his explanatory statement on the respective decrees and decisions, the Minister President took as his starting-point the various past measures which have proved to be mistaken. The Minister President ascribed these mistakes – for example, in the supply of ration cards, in measures for registration and collection, for tax collection, and other measures – to the fact that the budget had provided for considerable expenditure not envisaged in the Five-Year Plan. Moreover, tasks laid down for the next planning year were partly taken into the planning year 1953, and certain parts of the Five-Year Plan were transferred too soon from 1955 to 1952 or 1953 in order to expedite the development of heavy industry.

The Government had tried to master the situation thereby created and aggravated by arrears in last year's harvest and deliveries, by taking a number of measures which were shown by their effects to have been mistaken. “The instantaneous correction of the decrees in question,” declared the Minister President, “will lead to an improvement in the standard of living of our population and will strengthen and increase solidarity between the population and the Government. At the same time, such a policy corresponds to the basic interest of all German patriots to draw together and come to a closer understanding in the fight for the unity of Germany and for peace.”

In a thorough discussion in which the Deputy Ministers President Walter Ulbricht, Nuschke, Scholz, Loch, and Rau, the Ministers Steidle and Feldmann, the Chairman of the State Commission for Trade and Supply, Elli Schmidt, and Under Secretary of State Hafrang took part, the mistakes made clear by the Minister President were acknowledged and the new decisions proposed by him approved by all. The Council of Ministers adopted these resolutions. These decisions will initiate a process that will be a way out of present straits. The coming period will see changes in the Five-Year Plan making possible a further improvement in the standard of living.

The Council of Ministers took the following decisions:

the restrictions on the issue of ration cards are to be lifted. As from 1 July 1953 these will once more be issued to all citizens of the German Democratic Republic and of the democratic sector of Greater Berlin.

HO prices for products containing sugar, such as sweetmeats, biscuits, pastries, as well as for artificial honey containing 10 percent of bee honey, will be reduced again to the level obtaining for these prices on 19 April 1953. The same applies to the price of preserves of all kinds, artificial honey, and fruit syrup. The price reductions will come into force on 15 June 1953.

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