Land reform
Agrarian reform
new farmers
small-scale farmers
large-scale land ownership
Soviet Occupation Zone


How the GDR prepared the ground for socialism with a land reform 

Imme­dia­tely after the Second World War, a land reform was carried out in East Germany, first in the Soviet Occu­pa­tion Zone, then in the German Demo­cra­tic Repu­blic, which dissol­ved and perma­nently preven­ted the concen­tra­tion of land and power in the hands of a few large landow­ners, so-called Junker. Under the slogan “Junker­lands in famers’ hands!” large landow­ners as well as Nazi and war crimi­nals were expro­pria­ted and the land was redis­tri­bu­ted to resett­led and new farmers as well as small and medium farmers.

This text aims to give a compact intro­duc­tion to the history and circum­s­tances of this redis­tri­bu­tion process in the GDR by recon­s­truc­ting its histo­ri­cal condi­ti­ons, objec­ti­ves and course. It beco­mes clear that the land reform was twofold in charac­ter. It was a measure orde­red “from above”, promo­ted and led by the occu­py­ing forces and orga­nised and imple­men­ted by the leader­ship of the Commu­nist Party. At the same time, it was a demo­cra­ti­cally orga­nised and execu­ted action carried out by the villa­ges, an action that accom­mo­da­ted the vital needs and demands of the rural popu­la­tion. It funda­men­tally chan­ged class rela­ti­ons in the coun­try­side by giving farmers land of their own and paved the way for coll­ec­ti­vi­sa­tion towards a socia­list agri­cul­ture. The history of this speci­fic land reform also reve­als elements that apply to neces­sary agri­cul­tu­ral reforms sought after today.Contemporary move­ments may ther­e­fore find valuable lessons in the agra­rian history of the early years of the GDR.