Brown Cadres

Former National Socialists in the German Economic Commission and the East German Government (1948-1957)

Download (382 pages, German, PDF): Braune Kader – Internetausgabe 2012 Juli


The integration of former National Socialists in the “German Economic Commission” and various GDR government bodies between 1948 and 1957 strongly depended on their loyalty to the new socialist state, their qualifications, their performance, several socio-political criteria, their combatant / POW status in the war, and of course the degree of their entanglement with National Socialism before 1945. There was no general exoneration but a differentiated evaluation of the hundreds of former NSDAP members, SA and SS troops in the GDR administration as a study shows that is based on 150 cases.

Since the ideological significance was extraordinarily high, the individual cases had to be weighted to formal principles of cadre policy and substantial interests of authoritarian rule. Basically, a tainted biography rather disqualified for a top-level position. However, on the lower and medium levels of the apparatus, individuals who met the functional demands, who seemed to have adopted a “socialist consciousness”, and who formally embraced the Marxist-Leninist doctrine were allowed to embark on amazing post-war careers in East Germany.

This especially holds true for the economic management departments. Just like in West Germany, a typical excuse of the respective persons was their passiveness during the time of National Socialism and a solely nominal membership status in the above-mentioned NS organizations. Subjects to Allied denazification, their average offense had indeed been a minor one. Nevertheless there are various examples that persons tried to whitewash their past in order to qualify for the employment in the GDR state apparatus.