Socialist Unity Party of Germany

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Template:Politics of Germany The Socialist Unity Party of Germany (German: Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, or SED) was the governing party of East Germany from its formation in 1949 until the elections of 1990, following the East German government's collapse. The SED was created in 1946 from a Soviet-influenced merger between the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) members and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) members who lived in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany and the Soviet-occupied sector of Berlin. After 1990, the party reformed itself as the Party of Democratic Socialism, and continues to hold influence in German government on the state and local levels in former East German territory.


Early History

Official East German and Soviet histories portray the merger between the SPD and KPD in the Soviet sector as a voluntary pooling of efforts by the socialist parties. However, there is much evidence that the merger was more troubled than commonly portrayed.

The Soviet Military Administration in Germany (Russian initials: SVAG) directly governed the eastern areas of Germany following World War II, and their intelligence operations carefully monitored all political activities. An early intelligence report from SVAG Propaganda Administration director Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Ivanovich Tiulpanov (see External Links, below) indicates that the former KPD and SPD members formed factions within the SED party and remained rather mutually antagonistic for some time after the formation of the new party. Also reported was a great deal of difficulty in convincing the masses that the SED was a German political party, and not merely a tool of the Soviet occupation force.

According to Tiulpanov, many former members of the KPD expressed the sentiment that they had "forfeited [their] revolutionary positions, that [the KPD] alone would have succeeded much better had there been no SED, and that the Social Democrats are not to be trusted" (Tiulpanov, 1946). Tiulpanov indicated that there was a marked "political passivity" among former SPD members, who felt they were being treated unfairly and as second-class party members by the new SED administration. As a result, the early SED party apparatus became mired down as former KPD members began discussing any proposal, however small, at great length with the former SPD members, so as to achieve consensus and avoid offending them. Soviet intelligence claimed to have a list of names of an SPD group within the SED which was covertly forging links with the SPD in the West and even with the Western Allied military governments.

A problem the Soviets identified with the early SED was its potential to develop into a nationalist party. At large party meetings, members applauded speakers who talked of nationalism much more than when they spoke of solving social problems and gender equality. Some even proposed the idea of establishing an independent German socialist state free of both Soviet and Western influence, and of soon regaining the formerly German land that the Yalta Conference had reallocated to Poland.

Soviet handlers reported that SED politicians frequently pushed past the boundaries of the political statements which had been approved by the Soviet censors, and there was some initial difficulty making provincial SED parties realize that they should not oppose the political positions decided upon by the Central Committee in Berlin.

The Cold War Era

The Final Days

An SED Membership Card.
An SED Membership Card.

Before the elections in 1990, the old Social Democratic Party was re-established as a separate party while the rump of the SED that remained after a massive plunge in membership was renamed to Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). In this form, the party survived the reunification and managed to get representatives elected to the Bundestag. As of 2003, the PDS remains influential in Eastern areas of Germany, especially at local levels.

Related articles

List of Prominent SED Members

External links

  • 1946 Soviet intelligence document ( from Lieutenant Coloniel S. I. Tiulpanov, director of the Propaganda Administration of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany, detailing problems arising with the formation of the SED.
  • The East German NVA ( (Nationalen Volksarmee) comprised one of the Warsaw Pact's most potent and professional armies. Generally regarded as "Second in the Warsaw Pact" the armed forces of the DDR were the most closely bound of the Warsaw Pact armies to the Soviet offensive/defensive strategy for Eastern Europe.

de:Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands id:Partai Persatuan Sosialis Jerman ja:ドイツ社会主義統一党 nl:Socialistische Eenheidspartij van Duitsland pl:Niemiecka Socjalistyczna Partia Jedności sv:Tysklands Socialistiska Enhetsparti


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