From Roter Morgen
December, 1989

The Plundering of the GDR by the Soviet Union

The focal point of economic development of the GDR lies unequivocally in heavy industry, which as in all capitalist countries is developed at the expense of agriculture and the consumer goods industry. In this, the fact that the Soviet social-imperialists have forced upon the GDR a one-sided economic structure that is tailored to its own needs, plays an outstanding role. The Soviet Union has hindered the development of the heavy industry of the GDR, has directed its industrial production to Soviet need and has made a series of branches of production dependent on Soviet raw materials and fuel.

Raw Material Basis

In December of 1958 the Soviet revisionists imposed the construction of a 5,200 kilometer oil pipeline on the GDR, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia, which began operation in 1963. In 1968, the construction of a natural gas line from the Soviet Union to the GDR and others was agreed on. Thus the chemical industry, which in terms of the value of production is the most significant branch of industry in the GDR, became completely dependent on deliveries from the USSR. The GDR lost its own national basis in coal chemistry.

This weighs even more heavily, since the cradle of modern chemistry lies on the territory of the GDR. Here were invented the synthetic materials, synthetic rubber and synthetic benzene. Just as the FRG's chemical industry was made dependent on the U.S. oil monopolies, so the chemical industry of the GDR was made dependent on the Soviet superpower.

The adaptation to Soviet oil exposed the GDR to a brutal exploitation. For the USSR supplies oil to the GDR at a price higher than the world market price. So more commodities must always be delivered to the USSR, in order to pay for the same quantity of oil, or to settle the balance of trade deficit.

The GDR is likewise dependent on the Soviet Union for the supply of hard coal, iron ore, nickel-iron metals such as copper and nickel, wool and cotton, etc. "The Soviet Union provides the GDR's economy with all necessary raw materials." (The GDR - Development, Construction and Future; Frankfurt, 1969, p. 46) For all these raw materials similar mechanisms functioned as with oil.

The Soviet Union also breaks up a closed economic circulation, in order to make the GDR dependent. Although the GDR has a developed steel industry, which in 1987 still produced 8.2 million tons of raw steel, it imported hundreds of thousands of tons of steel, steel tubes, sheet-metal and steel pig-iron from the USSR.

Although the GDR is the largest producer of brown coal in the world, and can provide its whole power supply with its own forces, the Soviet Union also built nuclear power plants in the GDR, which today produce 11% of its power. The USSR has a monopoly on the development of atomic power plants in the CMEA [Council of Mutual Economic Assistance]. The export of atomic power plants, the intensification of nuclear power production, is a goal of Soviet imperialism, in order to make its allies dependent on it. The GDR, which presently still provides for about 80% of its power through its brown coal, is supposed, in 2 to 3 decades, to cover 50% of its power needs from nuclear power plants.

Structure of Industry

A specialization in the industrial sphere was forced upon the GDR, by which it, as well as industrially developed Czechoslovakia, became a subcontractor for various industries of the USSR and an appendage to its market. This division of labor was enforced upon it by making it dependent on the supply of raw materials [from the Soviet Union], which again had to be paid for with exports developed primarily for the Soviet market.

"So four-fifths of the ships and related equipment, two-thirds of the railroad cars, half of the transportation equipment, three-fourths of the equipment for the chemical industry and many other products and consumer goods, that were manufactured in the various CMEA countries, were destined for the Soviet market." (Albania Today, 3/1974, p. 37)

In 1987 the GDR produced 1,386 railroad passenger cars, of which 1,082 were exported, overwhelmingly to the USSR. The ship-building industry of the GDR has been overwhelmingly built up first as an export industry for the USSR. Over 70% of the trucks were exported in 1987, as well as 65% of the motorcycles. The furniture industry exported, since the 1960s, in considerable quantity to the USSR.

But above all the machine building industry in the GDR is oriented to the needs of the USSR. "In the 1950s nearly 90% of the machine-tool machines in the world were included in the GDR's production program. Economically, such an extensive range of production is unhealthy. The VIth Party Congress resolved to shrink the assortment of machine tool production in the interest of greater mass production. The very extensive division of labor among the CMEA countries that was achieved in the 1960s made the streamlining of this range of products in the GDR easier." (The GDR - Development, Construction and Future; Frankfurt, 1969, p. 29)

The GDR became the largest machine exporter of the CMEA. Over 80% of the metal cutting machines, over 70% of the agricultural machines, almost 90% of the machines for the textile, clothing and leather industries were exported in 1987 (Statistical Yearbook, p. 614, 620), mainly to the USSR. This country paid for the machines from the GDR up to 30% less than the world market price.

The electronics industry has also been developed primarily according to the desires of the USSR. With 14 billion marks it has been provided with vast investments. The electronics companies, especially Robotron, are among the most modern firms of the GDR. The electronics industry has been disproportionately supported:

1) to intensify the productivity of labor, that is the exploitation of the working class,

2) to satisfy the demands of the Soviet Union for the provision of modern machines, and

3) to provide the Soviet Union with first-rate components in the framework of specialization. There are numerous agreements about "joint efforts" and specialization with the USSR. The primary promotion of the electronics industry certainly also serves to strengthen the potential of the armaments industry of the USSR.

In view of this specialization, the automobile production has fallen into the gutter. The stinking, rattling, two-cylinder motor, that consumes too much fuel and pollutes the environment, is left over for the working people of the GDR. "Due to more urgent tasks of the people's economy." (The GDR, etc., p. 41) In the 1970s about half of the automobile production of the GDR was exported. In the 1980s the exports fell to one third. Waiting times of 10-15 years [for a car] was no rare occurrence.

Investments of Billions in the USSR

The GDR was forced by the Soviet imperialists to invest a significant share of its surplus value in the USSR. Every five-year plan provides for participation in important investment projects in the Soviet Union. From 1978 to 1982 the GDR paid 8 billion marks to the USSR for investments. It paid a portion of the investments for the development of the oil and natural gas in Siberia, as well as for the pipe line. Also considerable means for the building of new factories in the USSR. In the 20 years from 1957 to 1977 the GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia combined built completely, for example, 55 sugar factories.

A specific form of exploitation is the International Investment Bank, which was founded in 1971. For its initial capital the CMEA countries took part according to their export share of mutual trade, the USSR taking 38%, the GDR 17.7%, Czechoslovakia 12.3%, etc. The credits of this CMEA bank were to serve the "international socialist division of labor" and the "specialization," and flow overwhelmingly into the USSR.

On the other hand, Soviet social-imperialism invested extensive capital in the GDR. Both in joint enterprises and in the form of multinational Soviet companies such as Interelectro, Interchemistry, etc., which could move according to their convenience and exploited the working people of the GDR.

Trade with the USSR

The dependency on the Soviet Union becomes clear in the volume of foreign trade. In 1980 the GDR carried on 35.4% of its total foreign trade with the USSR. In 1987 this was 38.8% The GDR carried on about 70% of its foreign trade with the USSR-controlled CMEA countries. The consequences of the plundering of the GDR and of the other CMEA countries is that the GDR has also lost its economic independence as a highly developed industrial country and has become an appendage of the Soviet economy. In this way the Soviet Union increased its share of the total industrial production of the CMEA between 1960 and 1980 from 69.5% to 75%, while the share of the GDR was almost cut in half.

The double capitalist exploitation of the working people of the GDR by the monopoly bourgeoisie of the GDR and of the USSR has in recent years been even more supplemented by the exploitation by the Western imperialist countries. In this way the monopolists of the GDR, but also of the USSR, hope to gain a new modernizing impulse.

But Soviet imperialism does not have any intention of giving up the GDR as booty for the other imperialist countries. The formulation of a "Common European House" serves it also by promoting the integration of the CMEA countries even more. The living room of the GDR is supposed to also be the living room of the bosses of the USSR.

The perspective of the working class of the GDR does not lie in replacing one system of monopoly capitalism by another, dominated by West German imperialism. The root of the problem is exploitation itself. West German imperialism seeks to use the indignation against the robber system of the CMEA and the clique of Bonzes of the SED leadership to bring grist to its own mill. The basic interests of the working class of the GDR demand the reestablishment of socialism, not the changing of the form of capitalism. Socialism in the GDR can only be the result of the proletarian revolution under the leadership of a genuine Marxist-Leninist party. It must be directed against the monopoly bourgeoisie of the GDR, against Soviet social-imperialism and against West German imperialism.

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