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. The DDR’s 40-year commit­ment to progress, peace, anti-fascism, anti-colo­nia­lism, and inter­na­tio­na­lism stands in sharp contrast to the history of capi­ta­list West Germany and repres­ents a wealth of know­ledge for progres­sive move­ments seeking to tackle social chal­lenges today.


Our objec­tive is to enrich current deba­tes with histo­ri­cal expe­ri­ence. To do so, we examine and analyse the func­tio­ning of key sectors of the DDR’s socia­list society: the plan­ned 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 that arise when cons­truc­ting 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. To this day, the DDR’s soli­da­rity and support for econo­mic and poli­ti­cal sove­reig­nty are vividly remem­be­red in count­ries throug­hout Latin America, Africa and Asia. Indeed, the German abbre­via­tion “DDR” often still repres­ents a posi­tive point of refe­rence for many in these count­ries, which 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 today. We produce our mate­rial expli­citly in their interest.


With a small team of young scho­lars from East and West, we have begun to re-examine exis­ting lite­ra­ture and archi­ves, as well as conduct inter­views with eyewit­nesses from this period, to deve­lop acces­si­ble 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.

Follow our Tele­gram Chan­nel for updates on the latest artic­les and interviews.

Subscribe to our news­let­ter (in German):