ABOUT IF DDR
Today’s social conditions are characterized worldwide by intensified capitalist exploitation, ongoing neocolonial dependency, armed conflicts and growing signs of crisis. Unimaginable wealth stands in stark contrast to unimaginable impoverishment. The most elementary objectives, such as providing people with sufficient food and access to health, housing, education and culture, appear less and less attainable within the existing framework. On the contrary, economic dependencies, insecurity and competition are exacerbating social conditions both in the Global North and, in particular, in the countries of the Global South. The intensification of these contradictions is accompanied by growing resistance struggles that bring fundamental questions of social organization and coexistence to the fore.
Against this background, we, the International Research Centre DDR (IF DDR), are investigating the history of the German Democratic Republic (DDR) and the societal changes it achieved. In doing so we seek to enrich current debates with historical experience. The DDR’s 40-year commitment to progress, peace, anti-fascism, anti-colonialism, internationalism and socialism represents a wealth of knowledge for progressive movements seeking to tackle social challenges today.
We examine and evaluate the socialist conditions of the DDR, which stood in sharp contrast to capitalist West Germany. To this end, we analyze the functioning of key aspects of DDR society: the organisation of the economy, the health care system, the legal system, agriculture, education and so on. A critical appraisal of this history offers a deeper perspective on the fundamental possibilities and difficulties of alternative social, economic and political models.
The IF DDR focuses in particular on internationalism and how state and societal actors of the DDR built relationships with other countries and anti-colonial movements. The DDR’s solidarity and support for economic and political sovereignty are still remembered in many countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. Indeed, the German abbreviation “DDR” often still represents a positive point of reference in these countries, and this is why we use it throughout our multilingual publications.
Our research is driven by the specific needs of the emergent anti-colonial, anti-capitalist and socialist movements that are searching for economic and social alternatives to today. We produce our material explicitly in their interest.
With a small team of young humanities scholars from East and West, the IF DDR examines available literature, together with first-hand experiences from eyewitness interviews, to develop accessible scholarly publications in a variety of media formats. We work closely with the globally organized research institute Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, which is an important partner in connecting us with movements in the Global South.