East Germany: The Workers’ Insurrection of June 1953

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The text we are publishing here on 17 June 1953 is not attempting to satisfy a taste for funereal commemorations. For a long time now the bourgeoisie has been trying to exorcise the phantoms which have appeared to haunt its period of decline. These phan­toms are the proletarian revolutions, the revolutionary movements which it has crushed and whose fateful return it fears so deeply, if not in the immediate future, then in the fitful dreams of a ruling class. It tries therefore to conjure away its superstitious terror of ‘fateful dates’ by commemorating past events in its own way, by giving them a second burial. The first time round it unleashes all its military and ideological forces against the working class when it threatens the basis of its rule; the second time round it falsifies the class content of the workers’ struggle, transforming it into a vulgar struggle for the ‘fatherland’, ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’.

This is what the bourgeoisie east and west has been trying to do with the 1953 uprising: the former portraying the struggle of the East German workers as a struggle against ‘Stalinist excesses’; the latter portraying it as a struggle for ‘pluralist, parliamen­tary democracy’. Each faction of the world bourgeoisie is trying once again to assassi­nate the proletariat of East Berlin and Saxony, by disfiguring, or slandering its struggle, transforming it into its opposite, or purely and simply denying it.

Revolutionaries don’t turn the struggle of the proletariat into a cult-object or some­thing for purely academic study. For them, the struggles of the past are always present. That is why the struggle of the past is not something to be commemorated, but a weapon for future struggle, an incitement to revo­lutionary action. The events of 1953 are part of us, because they are a moment in the historic struggle of the proletariat for its emancipation. They are striking proof of the capitalist nature of the eastern bloc countries, which the Trotskyists pre­sent as ‘socialist’. They demonstrate that the most ruthless dictatorship of capital, wielded through a totalitarian state, does not put an end to the class struggle. That struggle will continue as long as society is still divided into classes, as long as exploitation exists. In 1953 the proleta­riat was reacting to an intensification of its exploitation and thus gave a clear answer to the Trotskyist and Stalinist lies about the ‘workers’ socialist state’. The workers of East Germany, even before the Hungarian workers in 1956 and the Polish workers in 1970 showed that the machine guns of the police and the army were of the same brand as the ones which cut them down in 1918-20 in Berlin and Budapest. After the insurrection of the East German workers, the myth of the ‘socialist states’ began to founder in the consciousness of the world proletariat.

But more than anything else, the workers of East Germany, despite being crushed, showed that they are only force capable of over­throwing capitalist exploitation. Despite their illusions in the ‘democratic’ west -- the mystifying corollary to the iron dicta­torship of the capitalist state in the east -- they demonstrated the possibility of a future proletarian revolution in the Russian bloc. Within days, the country was covered in strike committees and factory committees. Only the weight of a triumphant counter-revolution permitted the interven­tion of the Russian army and the isolation of the East German proletariat from the workers of West Germany and other European countries.

Today, the period of counter-revolution which isolated, weakened and derailed the proletarian struggle is over. May ‘68 proved that the proletariat of Western Europe was not ‘integrated’; the workers’ riots in Poland in December 1970 and January 1971 proved that the class struggle continues and that the events of 1953 weren’t accidental or the mere product of the ‘Stalinization’ of these countries. It is the world crisis of capitalism which, both in the east and the west, is pushing the workers to resist exploitation.

Despite all the sirens in Poland (KOR, comm­ittee for the defense of imprisoned workers) or in Czechoslovakia (Charter 77) who try to show the workers that they should struggle for a ‘free nation’ alongside the rest of the ‘people’, the workers of the eastern bloc countries can only integrate themselves into the international struggle of the prole­tariat. Isolated yesterday, tomorrow the workers of all countries, united in revolu­tionary struggle in spite of all capital’s ‘iron curtains’, will storm the heavens.

At the end of the second imperialist world war, the governments of all countries promised the workers peace and lasting prosperity. Today, more than thirty years later, we find ourselves once more in the middle of an international economic crisis, which, east and west, is massively attack­ing the living standards of the working class. In the face of a growing dearth of markets, soaring inflation, mass unemploy­ment and impending bankruptcy, capitalism is forced to follow the path traced by its internal contradictions; this path leads to generalized inter-imperialist struggle, to a third mass slaughter in our century.

In West Germany, the bourgeoisie and espec­ially its extreme factions (such as the Maoists, the Trotskyists and the neo-­Fascists) are putting forward the goal of an united, independent, democratic and even ‘socialist’ Germany as a solution to the ‘German’ part of the world crisis. We will understand the meaning of this ‘national independence and unity’ when we remember that the Bonn Government has made 17 June and the defeat of the East German workers, the day to celebrate the goal of German unity. In reality there is no solution, to the crisis of decadent capitalism, which proceeds in a vicious cycle of crisis -- war-reconstruction-new crisis, and will continue in this manner until humanity has finally been destroyed. Precisely because the only way out of this barbarism is the world proletarian revolution, the vital task of revolutionaries is to examine the past experiences and struggles of our class, so that the defeats of yesterday may become the victory of tomorrow.

The so-called ‘socialist’ countries of Eastern Europe arose as a result of the imperialist re-division of the world brought about by World War II. The slogan of the holy war against fascism was nothing but the lie which the western and Russian bourgeois­ies ended up using to mobilize their workers in the fight for more profits, markets and raw materials for their capitalist masters. The Allies love of democracy did not prevent Stalin, for example, from doing a deal with Hitler at the beginning of the war, through which Russia was able to seize large areas of Eastern Europe1.

As it became increasingly clear that the Allies were going to win the war, the conflict of interests within the ‘democrat­ic camp’ itself, and especially between Russia on the one hand and Britain and America on the other, became greater. The Russians received only the minimum of military supplies from the west, and Brit­ain even wanted to open up the Second Front against Germany in the Balkans instead of in France, in order to prevent the Russians occupying Eastern Europe.

What kept this united front of gangsters together was the fear that the war, partic­ularly in the defeated countries, might, as in World War I, be ended by an outbreak of class struggle. The brutal bombing raids of the Allies on German cities were aimed at crushing the resistance of the working class. In most cities the workers’ cities were obliterated, whereas only 10 per cent of industrial equipment was destroyed2.

The growing resistance of the workers, which in some cases led to uprisings in concentration camps and factories, and the dissatisfaction of the soldiers(such as the desertions on the Eastern Front, which were countered by mass hangings), were swiftly crushed by the occupying powers. This pattern was followed everywhere. In the east, the Russian army stood by while the German forces put down the sixty three day long Warsaw Rising, leaving 240,000 dead. Similarly, the Russian army was responsible for restoring order and social peace in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the Balkans. In the west, the CPs joined the post-war governments in France and Italy, in order to break the flickering strike movements and social unrest there. The Italian CP in power was supporting the same: democratic allies who mercilessly bombarded the Italian workers who were occupying the factories towards the end of the war.

The ‘Soviet’ occupiers began to exercise an organized plunder of the East European territory under their control. In the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) of East Germany, the dismantling of industrial equipment for transportation back to the Soviet Union amounted to 40 per cent of the industrial capacity of the SBZ. The Sowjetinen en Aktiengesellschaften (SAGs, Soviet stockholding companies) were found­ed in 1946 and two hundred firms in key industries, including for example the massive Leuna Works, were taken over by the Russians. In some areas, at the end of the war, the workers themselves repaired and began operating the factories and such factories were especially eagerly taken over. In 1950 the SAGs constituted the following proportion of the East German economy: “more than half of chemicals, a third of metallurgical products, and about a quarter of machine production.”(Staritz, Sozialismus In Einer Halben Land, p.103).

A large proportion of these profits went to the Russians directly as reparation payments. The GDR was committed to reparation payments to the USSR up until 1953-4, until it became clear that the reparations were damaging the Russian economy itself3. The decimated East German economy paid the bill through a brutally rising exploitation of the working class. The proletariat was forced in this way to help finance the reconstruction and expansion of the Soviet war economy. Stalin never explained why the working class and the ‘Workers’ State’ in Germany should have to pay for the crimes of its exploiters.

This consolidation of Russian imperialism’s economic power in East Germany and Eastern Europe was accompanied by the coming to power of pro-Russian factions of the bourgeoisie. In the SBZ, the Stalinists of the KPD came together with the Social Democratic murderers of the German Revol­ution, to form the Sozialistische Einheits Partei (SED). Its immediate post-war goals had already been expressed clearly shortly before the war began: “The new democratic Republic will deprive Fascism of its material basis through the exprop­riation of fascist trust capital, and will place reliable defenders of democratic freedoms and the rights of the people in the army, the police forces and the bureau­cracy” (Staritz, p.49).

Strengthening and ‘democratization’ of the army, the police, the bureaucracy... such were the lessons which these good bourgeois ‘Marxists’ had drawn from Marx, from Lenin, from the Paris Commune.

Then, three years after the war had ended, came the announcement that the building of ‘socialism’ had now begun. A miraculous ‘socialism’ this, which could be construct­ed upon the corpses of a totally crushed and defeated proletariat. It is interesting to note that between 1945-8 not even the SED pretended that the state capitalist measures they were putting through had anything to do with socialism. And today, leftists of all descriptions who propagate the idea that nationalization equals socialism, prefer to ‘forget’ the high degree of statification present in the East European countries even before the war, and especially in those countries most renowned for their ‘react­ionary’ governments, such as Poland and Yugoslavia. This centralization of the economy under the direction of the state had proceeded during the German occupation4.

In fact, the famous declaration of the ‘building of socialism’, along with the economic, political and military tightening ups which took place in Eastern Europe after 1948, was the direct result of a hardening of the global conflict between the American and the Russian blocs.

The Two-Year Plan, (measured on the 1949 standing) foresaw a rise in production of 35 per cent until 1950, reckoned with a rise in labor productivity of 30 per cent, a 15 per cent growth in the total wage mass, and a 7 per cent sinking of the costs of Public firms. The aim of the SED was thereby to raise work productivity twice as fast as wages. The means to these ends were seen by the planners above all in the improvement in the organization of work, the intro­duction of ‘correct norms’ and in the struggle against absenteeism and carelessness at the workplaces.”5

The rise in wages after 1948, insofar as they took place at all, were merely the result of piece rate norms and ‘productivity achievements’, or in other words they were the result of higher levels of exploitation. This was the period of the Hennecke move­ment (the East German equivalent of Stakhanovism) and of an iron discipline in the factories imposed by the unions. But even so these small wage rises became more and more an intolerable burden for the economy and had somehow to be cut. The economically weaker Eastern Bloc, less and less able to compete with its American-led rivals, was forced, in order to survive, to squeeze super profits out of the proletariat and to invest in the heavy industries (or more precisely, in those industries conn­ected to the war economy), to the detriment of the infrastructure, the consumer goods sector, etc. This situation, which required the immediate and centralized control of the economy by the state, pushed the bourgeoisie into making a frontal attack on the living standards of the working class.

The response of the proletariat came in a wave of class struggle which shook Eastern Europe between the years 1953-6. The movement began in early June 1953 with demonstrations by workers in Pilzen, Czechoslovakia which led to clashes with the army. These were immediately followed by the rising in the GDR and by the revolt in the massive Vorkutz labor camps in Russia in July of the same year. This movement reached its climax in 1956 with the events in Poland, and then in Hungary, where workers’ councils were formed.

It has been estimated that the real wages in East Germany in 1950 were half the 1936 level. (C. Harman, Bureaucracy and Revolution, p. 80). In July 1952 the SED announced the opening of a new period of ‘the accelerated construction of socialism’, by which was meant a further increase in investment in heavy industry, a greater increase: in productivity and a greater increase in production norms. It was clearly intended to speed up the post-war reconstruction. In the spring of 1953 at a time when the unions in West Berlin were having difficulty in controlling the combativity of the building workers, the government in East Berlin was stepping up a full-scale campaign to increase the production norms generally, and particularly on the building sites. On 28 May it was announced that 60 per cent of the workers on the huge building sites in Stalinallee had ‘volunt­arily’ raised their norms (this is the language of ‘socialist’ realism). The effects of the nationwide production campaign on the working class were already beginning to show. That same month strikes took place in Magdeburg and Karl Marx Stadt. In response the government pro­claimed a general norm rise of 10 per cent for 5 June.

Becoming frightened by the mood among the workers, an anti-Ulbricht grouping within the SED leadership6, and apparently with Kremlin backing, pushed through a reform package aimed at gaining the support of the middle classes. This group even began to suggest an easing-up policy as regards the question of the production norms.

But such maneuvers came too late to prevent a proletarian eruption. On 16 June the building workers took to the streets and marched calling out other workers. Finally the demonstration made for the government buildings. The general strike called for the following day paralyzed East Berlin and was followed in all other important cities. The struggle was organized by strike comm­ittees elected in open assemblies and under their control -- independent of the unions and the party. Indeed the dissolut­ion of the party cells in the factories was often the first demand of the workers. In Halle, Bitterfeld and Merseburg, the industrial heartland of East Germany, strike committees for the entire cities were elected, which together attempted to coordinate and lead the struggle. These committees assumed the task of centralizing the struggle and also temporarily organizing the running of the cities.

In Bitterfeld, the central strike committee demanded that the fire brigade clear the walls of all official slogans. The police continued to make arrests; whereupon the committee formed fighting units and organized the systematic occupation of the city districts. The political prisoners of the Bitterfeld jail were released in the name of the strike committee. In contrast the strike committee ordered the arrest of the town mayor.” (Sarel, Arbeiter gegen den Komrunismus)

All over the country the party headquarters were occupied or burnt down, jails broken into and prisoners freed. The repressive apparatus of the state was paralyzed. The only help for the government was Russian tanks. In East Berlin 25,000 Russian troops and 300 tanks crushed the resistance of workers armed only with sticks and bottles. In Leipzig, Magdeburg and Dresden order was restored within a few hours. In other areas it took longer. In East Berlin strikes were still taking place three weeks later.

Because of the speed with which the workers took to the streets, generalizing the struggle and taking it straight to the political level, above all because the need to openly confront the state was understood, the proletariat was able to paralyze the repressive apparatus of the East German bourgeoisie. However, just as the rapid spread of the strike across the country was able to prevent the effective use of the police against the workers, in the same way, an international extension of the civil war would have been necessary in order to counter the threat of the ‘Red Army’. In this sense we can say that, taking place as it did in the depths of the worldwide counter-revolution following the defeat of the revolutionary wave of 1917-23, the East German workers were defeated because of their isolation from their class brothers abroad, east and west. In fact, the weight of the counter­revolution placed political barriers more terrible than the bayonets of Russian imperialism against the extension of the movement from a revolt to a revolution. The links binding the class to its own past, its experiences and struggles, had long been smashed by Noske, Hitler and Stalin -- the bloody heroes of reaction -- by concent­ration camps and mass bombings, by demoralization and by the destruction of its revolutionary parties (the murder of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, the political decimation, of the KAPD). Having suffered for so long under the Fascist and Stalinist one party states, the workers believed that parliamentary democracy might protect them against naked exploitation. They called for parliament and free elections. They sent delegations to West Berlin, asking for help and solidarity from the state and the unions there, but in vain. The West Berlin police and the French and British troops were posted along the borders of the city with East Berlin to prevent any movements of solidarity between workers of east and west. The unions in the west turned down the suggestion to call a solidarity strike, and warned the East European workers against illegal actions and adventurism. The workers called on the Russian army to remain neutral (not to interfere in internal German affairs -- according to the strike committee of Halle and Bitterfeld). They learned a hard lesson: in the class war there is no neutrality. The workers wanted to get rid of Ulbricht and Co, not realizing that one Ulbricht would simply be replaced by another, and that it’s not a question of overthrowing this or that government but of destroying the world capitalist system which hangs like a stone around our neck. They didn’t understand the need to central­ize the struggle politically at the level of workers’ councils which would smash the bourgeois state.

The Stalinist DKP and the West German Maoists are of the opinion that 17 June was a fascist rising organized from Bonn and Washington. They thereby demonstrate once again their anti-proletarian nature. The working class will have to fling such currents (or others such as that of ‘Comrade’ Bahro, who is so eager to demo­cratize East German state capitalism and his beloved ‘Workers’ State’ in order to preserve law and order) onto the scrapheap of history.

The logic of such currents is illustrated by a leaflet which the Maoist KBW brought out for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the events in the GDR. These self-appointed watchdogs of Stalinist purity argue thus: the ‘fact’ that the rising was ‘supported’ by the West German government proves that it could have been nothing else but an attempted fascist putsch. In fact the western bourgeoisie supported this uprising in exactly the same way as for example the unions support strike movements: in order to lead them into dead-ends and defeat.

The facts show that the people who were perpetrating their dirty work on 17 June were in fact powerless, precisely because they were not ‘brave workers’ but rather provocateurs, imperialist slaves without the backing of the working class, who began to run like hares when the Red Army, at that time an army of the working class, opposed this attempted counter-revolutionary coup.” (KBW leaflet, 15 June 1978)

Well there you are, it’s all as easy to explain as that: but even so, these parrots of the counter-revolution still find it necessary to mumble about the mistakes of Uncle Walter (Ulbricht) and the confusions of the workers. But how did it come about that three years after this first fascist adventure, the Hungarian working; masses would fight Stalin’s tanks with home-made mollies? And why do the workers attack their ‘own’ army so often and so fiercely? And why did these ‘brave workers’ not lift so much as a finger to rescue ‘their state’ and ‘their revolution’ during the famous bloodless Kruschchev counter-revolution so talked of in Maoist circles?

The conditions of class struggle under decadent capitalism determined that the workers in East Germany in 1953 and in Hungary in 1956 would in their conflicts with the system be immediately confronted by the might and hostility of the world bourgeoisie. The fraudulent goals of ‘democracy’ and German ‘unity’ held up by western propaganda complemented the action of the ‘Red Army’ in defeating the prolet­ariat. In its manipulation of lies the bourgeoisie of the older capitals proved once again to be the true masters. Their strategy consisted of: 1. bringing the workers’ struggles to an end as fast as possible and especially by preventing the movement from spreading across the border to the west; 2. by diverting the movement onto the bourgeois terrain (a struggle for democracy, freedom, etc) the west hoped to extend their influence inside the Russian bloc. However, the ideology of the western bourgeoisie was directed first and foremost against its own proletariat. All this talk about the low living standards and lack of freedom of ‘the people’ in the east is being employed, and especially today, in an attempt to use democracy to break the res­istance of the workers to austerity and a total war economy. The ideological inter­vention of the western bloc in 1953 was especially important; for by contributing to the political disarming of the prolet­ariat it even helped the Stalinists to stay in power.

In 1956 in Poland and Hungary, nationalism was the most powerful weapon slowing down and dissolving the resistance of the workers. Only some months after the slaughter of the workers in Poznan, the Polish CP was actually in the position of being able to arm the population of Warsaw in order to defend the fatherland against the Russians. By contrast the government in East Berlin felt itself partly threat­ened by German nationalism, since this nationalism embodied the threat from the west; the great fear of being devoured by Bonn. Precisely for this reason, the unification of all classes in order to defend the national capital against the Russians was excluded from the beginning, the very existence of the GDR being depend­ant on the power of the Russians. Incap­able of utilizing any means of mystification, the SED allowed itself to be rescued by foreign tanks and democratic blab-blab.

The working class never abandons the class struggle, it never was and never could be a class for capital. Confronted with the lies of the bourgeoisie and its left fractions -- which incessantly reproach the class with militarism, aristocracism, racism, etc -- confronted with a conception which only sees the class as cowardly, resigned and defeated, revolutionaries defend the under­standing that the heart of class society today is the contradiction between wage labor and capital, which confront each other in a situation of permanent hostility determined by the material conditions of their existence. Because the proletariat possesses no economic power within the society the destruction of capitalism can therefore only be a political action, an exercise of revolutionary consciousness anal will by the army of labor. It was preci­sely due to a lack of experience and con­sciousness on the part of the class and its revolutionary minorities that the October Revolution failed. In the same way, all the attempts of the forties and fifties to resist capitalism failed because of the deep confusion and demoralization which followed the defeat of the October Revolut­ion.

The Council Communists, for example Daad and Gedachte in Holland, reached the pinn­acle of idealism when they assert that the events of 17 June 1953 proved once more the boundless power of the mass spontaneity of the proletariat, a concept which they oppose to the necessity for a class party. However, just as foreign to Marxism is the typical notion of the Bordigists who are determined to explain each and every defeat by the absence of the revolutionary party. Because the proletariat’s very nature is that of an exploited and revolutionary class, it enters the struggle spontaneously. However, in order to be able to defend itself and to confront capital, it is essential that the proletariat organize and lead its struggles as consciously as possible. The class forges its weapons, its organs in the very flames of the class struggle itself. With these organs it turns its immediate struggle onto the terrain of its own class interests, ie the fight for communism. In revolutionary confrontations the mass of workers organize themselves in councils which coordinate and launch its offensives and temporary retreats, and which prepare for the day of the uprising. In this way the class goes beyond its own spontaneity and becomes a single, united, indivisible revolutionary power.

In fact, the Council Communists and the Bordigists are posing the question in the wrong way. It is neither the Councils nor the Party ‘alone’, but rather, that which is indispensable for the victory of the Revolution is the conscious self-organization of the class! The formation of the party and the Councils are two separate and fundamental moments in this process of the self-organiz­ation of the class. No single struggle of the workers, and even less one taking place in the depths of the counter-revolution, will be victorious simply because someone has ‘founded the world party’. The world party is not simply a collection of principles; even less is it the work of some diseased sect taking its own dreams for reality. The world party of tomorrow signifies the militant and disciplined self-organization of the most combative and conscious elements of the class who, during the struggles of the proletariat play a vital and dynamic role in the endeavors of the class to organize itself and to grasp the tasks which face it as a class. The party, a product of the class struggle, does not emerge spontan­eously from it, but rather its existence is prepared by long years of organized theoret­ical and practical work. We are now engaged in this preparatory work.

Although the absence of revolutionary minorities in the struggles of 1953-6 is a symptom of the weakness of the class during this period, the appearance and strength­ening of such minorities since 1968 shows us that a new period of class struggle has now opened before us. The strikes in East Berlin and Karl Marx Stadt and likewise the riots in Wittenberge and Erfurt which took place recently are announcing the fact that a new era of class struggle and social crisis has arrived in the GDR. In Eastern Europe, we have seen the first brave efforts of the workers to resist the crisis (Poland, Rumania). If they did not attain a highly politicized level, these revolts did leave an essential heritage to the world proleta­riat: giving the lie to the theories which proclaimed the integration of the proletariat into state capitalism in the east which calls itself a workers’ paradise; proving the international unity of the workers’ class struggle against capital in all its forms. Today the world bourgeoisie is becoming more and more aware of the need to subordinate its own internal conflicts to the general goal of defeating the proletariat and is strengthening itself to this end.

Because of the necessity for the imperialist powers to work towards war, the bourgeoisie is preparing itself especially for civil war, because only defeated workers make good soldiers.

This new offensive of the bourgeoisie to crush us and then send us off to war must be answered by the working class of east and west. 25 years after the revolt of the workers in East Germany we oppose to the swindling unity of the bourgeoisie the unity and solidarity of the workers and revolutionaries of all countries.


1 One could fill an entire book with quotations from Stalinists concerning the conclusion of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939. Star functionary Ulbricht wrote in February 1940: “Whoever intrigues against the friendship between the German and Soviet peoples and will be branded a lackey of English imperialism.” And the declaration of the KPD from August 1939: “The entire German people must be the guarantee of the observation of the non-aggression pact”, which even gives the ‘German people’ the opportunity to “force Hitler to give up his imperialist war policy.”

2 The Allies tried to avoid excessively damaging the industrial complexes because they intended to take them off back home with them after the war.

3 Precisely because the Russians had so thoroughly plundered the GDR, they were depriving themselves of many important commodities which the East Germans, with their well-trained working class, could very easily and cheaply have provided.

Another reason for scrapping the reparation payments was the danger of social instability, which became quite clear after 1953.

4 The situation in Czechoslovakia in 1945 shows us the truth of this state capitalist development, which had been set in motion even without the Stalinists and the ‘Workers’ Parties’. According to Bennes, the conservative head of state at the time: “The Germans simply took control of all main industries and all banks … If they did not nationalize them directly they at least put them into the hands of big German concerns … In this way they automatically prepared the economic and financial capital of our country for nationalization … To return this property and the banks into the hands of Czech individuals or to consolidate them without considerable state assistance and without new financial guarantees was simply was simply impossible. The State had to step in.” (Chris Harman, Bureaucracy and Revolution, p. 27)

5 Staritz, p. 107. The author forgets here that a growth of the total wage sum of 15 percent does not signify a wage rise of 15 percent but rather first and foremost an increase in the number of workers.

6 Involved was the grouping around Franz Dahlem. With every political crisis in the Eastern Bloc there emerge fractions of the bourgeoisie out to ‘democratize’ or change something or other, in order to avoid a confrontation with the proletariat. In 1956 it was Gomulka in Poland and Nagy in Hungary. In 1968 it was Dubcek in Czechoslovakia. Today it is exactly the same with the Opposition in Poland, the civil rights leaders in Russia, the Charter ’77 in Czechoslovakia, and Bahro, Havemann, Biermann and friends in the GDR.