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.

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