Inter­na­tio­nal soli­da­rity was a poli­ti­cal tenet of the state leaders­hip in the German Demo­cra­tic Repu­blic (DDR). At the same time, inter­na­tio­nal soli­da­rity was a mass pheno­me­non, deeply embed­ded in the ever­y­day life of many DDR citi­zens. Rejec­ting the impe­ria­list prac­ti­ces of compe­ti­tion, depen­dency, racism and oppres­sion, the DDR char­ted a course that promo­ted friendship among nati­ons, mutual respect, and prole­ta­rian internationalism.


The DDR not only decla­red its poli­ti­cal soli­da­rity with the states and peop­les who were figh­t­ing for their inde­pen­dence and social progress across Asia, Latin America and Africa, it also exten­ded various forms of mate­rial support to these strug­gles. This inclu­ded sending specia­lists to the coun­tries of the Global South as well as trai­ning skil­led workers and univer­sity cadres from these regi­ons in the DDR’s work­pla­ces and univer­si­ties. It also inclu­ded nume­rous fund­rai­sing campai­gns sustai­ned by the popu­la­tion at large as well as public mani­fes­ta­ti­ons in support of poli­ti­cal priso­ners such as Luis Corvalán, Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis.


With the series “Friendship!”, IF DDR offers insights into the history and stories of the DDR’s lived soli­da­rity with anti-impe­ria­list and anti-colo­nial move­ments worldwide.


We analyse the ways in which both the state and its people provi­ded support for libe­ra­tion move­ments, while also evalua­ting the extent to which this soli­da­rity contri­bu­ted to the self-empower­ment of those struggling against colo­nia­lism and impe­ria­list rule. We examine the nume­rous friendship briga­des and soli­da­rity campai­gns carried out by the workers, youth, students, and scien­tists of the DDR. A central compo­nent of this series are inter­views with the parti­ci­pants and acti­vists who built and main­tai­ned rela­ti­ons­hips with worker move­ments and anti-colo­nial campai­gns throughout the world. By embed­ding accounts from contem­porary witnes­ses inside and outside the DDR in their histo­ri­cal context, we seek to preserve important histo­ri­cal insights and make them acces­si­ble to an inter­na­tio­nal audience.


In analy­sing both the victo­ries and succes­ses as well as the setbacks and contra­dic­tions in the DDR’s inter­na­tio­nal soli­da­rity, we seek to unco­ver from the histo­ri­cally speci­fic situa­tion what can still be of inte­rest or inst­ruc­tive for the struggle against neo-colo­nia­lism and impe­ria­lism today. By passing on the first-hand expe­ri­ence of DDR soli­da­rity, we aim to streng­t­hen the inter­na­tio­na­list thrust in today’s progres­sive movements.