German Democratic Republic Population and Economy
Its capital is the Soviet sector of Berlin (Berlin-Pankow). It corresponds to the following traditional Länder: Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia. These Länder, however, were abolished and in their place the following 14 districts (Bezirke) were established in 1952, named by their respective capitals:
The territory of the GDR borders, in addition to the federal republic, with only two other countries, namely with Czechoslovakia and with Poland. With the latter the border line corresponds to the course of the Oder and its tributary Neisse, but this border is not recognized by the western Germany The territory of the democratic republic is bordered by the Baltic Sea.
The 1946 census gave the Soviet occupation zone a population of 17.3 million, that is 2.1 million more than the population existing in 1939 in the same territory. The population grew further due to the arrival of refugees and the repatriation of prisoners of war, exceeding 18 million at the beginning of 1949, but later, also due to the passage of many citizens in the federal republic, it dropped to 17 million (December 31, 1953). In the following years the increase was low, so much so that, as we have already said, according to an evaluation of June 1958, the GDR, including East Berlin, counted 17.3 million residents However, after this date the increase tends to be accentuated. The mortality rate, which just fell below the birth rate in 1950, was in 1951 on the 11th, 5 ‰, while the birth rate was 14.5 ‰ in the same year. The female population stands in front of the male population in the ratio of 127 to 100 (1953). The number of refugees living in the GDR at the end of 1954 was 2,378,000, evidence from the territories located east of the Oder-Neisse line. From the point of view of the religion, just 12.7% of the population was Catholic at the 1946 census, while the great mass of the residents belonged to the evangelical churches. There were only 1150 Jews (in addition to the 1800 residents in East Berlin). evidence from territories located east of the Oder-Neisse line. From the point of view of the religion, just 12.7% of the population was Catholic at the 1946 census, while the great mass of the residents belonged to the evangelical churches. There were only 1150 Jews (in addition to the 1800 residents in East Berlin). evidence from territories located east of the Oder-Neisse line. From the point of view of the religion, just 12.7% of the population was Catholic at the 1946 census, while the great mass of the residents belonged to the evangelical churches. There were only 1150 Jews (in addition to the 1800 residents in East Berlin).
From the economic-agricultural point of view, the productive surface measures approximately 6.3 million ha, that is 61% of the territorial surface of the democratic republic. There is therefore a ratio of 34 ha for every 100 residents, that is to say one fifth more than in the federal republic; but the fact remains that – like the latter – even the democratic republic must import foodstuffs.
Half of the production area is made up of arable crops. Agriculture is intense in Saxony, in parts of Mecklenburg Sept. and in the Magdeburg area, but in the rest of the GDR the soil is less favorable, so the cultivation of rye is more important than that of wheat, which is more demanding.
With the land reform begun in 1954, the agricultural economy of the GDR underwent major changes. Private properties over 100 ha were expropriated and the land thus obtained, together with state-owned and municipal ones, 925,000 ha was distributed among “landless” peasants, 271,000 ha among 80,000 “poor” peasants and 755,000 ha among 90,000 refugees coming from the east. In addition, 45,000 small tenants and 170,000 village workers and artisans received small plots of land up to one hectare each. The beneficiaries must redeem the land within twenty years at the rate of 1.0-1.5 t of rye per hectare or the corresponding equivalent. The land, however, is not salable even afterwards. The number of large companies, over 100 ha, it dropped from 6300 (1939 situation) to 900 (1951). While in 1939 farms over 100 hectares comprised 28.3% of the production area, in 1951 they comprised 4.4%. At the same time, the farms from 5 to 50 ha increased from 54% to 80%.
Other changes have consequently occurred in the structure of agricultural production. The cultivation of wheat and barley, in fact, has regressed in favor of that of rye and fodder, while the cultivation of oleaginous plants has extraordinarily extended due to the strong need for fats.
To favor agricultural mechanization, the “Maschinen Ausleih Stationen” or MAS (literally “car loan stations”) were established, later called MTS (T = “Traktoren”). Agricultural cooperatives or LPG (“Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaften”) have also been favored, ranging from a simple type, based on the communion of land only and not equipment, up to a type close to the Soviet kolkhozes, but equipped with a system of remuneration that takes into account, at least partially, the extension of the land corresponding to each member.
The GDR production was (1957) 12.6 million q of wheat, 9 million q of barley, 22.3 million q of rye, 10 million q of oats, 145.2 million q of potatoes., 7.8 million q of raw sugar, 69,000 q of flax fiber. In 1956 the zootechnical patrimony included 3.7 million cattle, 1.9 million sheep, 8.3 million pigs.
The forest area, which covers 2.9 million ha, corresponds to 27% of the state territory. Even in the GDR, the damage caused by the war made it necessary to carry out a careful restoration work.
Sea fishing, given the low productivity of the Baltic, has been particularly directed towards the open seas. The fishing cooperatives were replaced by state bodies, which promoted a new construction program at the shipyards in Rostock, Sassnitz, Wolgast and Damgarten. These also include special refrigeration vessels accompanying the high seas fleet. Refrigerated railway wagons were also built to transport products from the Baltic coasts to the densely populated industrial region of Saxony. All this demonstrates the importance attributed to fishing for population nutrition.
Even in the industrial field, the GDR has introduced capital reforms. It is enough to remember that every enterprise of a certain importance has become a “VEB”, that is, a “Volkseigener Betrieb” (literally “popular-owned enterprise”). The GDR found itself in a disadvantageous situation with regard to coal production because the large deposits of the Ruhr belong to the western Germany and those of Silesia were incorporated by Poland (which exports coal to the GDR). In fact, the coal production of the democratic republic is just around 2.9 million t (1958), obtained essentially from the Zwickau region. It is true that there are rich deposits of lignite, which gave as much as 200 million tonnes in 1955, but it is a fuel that is not yet usable for the production of coke, necessary for the steel industry. Electricity (34.8 billion kWh in 1958) is obtained 2/3 from the combustion of lignite. There is a lack of oil and methane resources.
In the mining field, alongside the production of lignite, copper (25,800 t in 1957) and potassium salts (1.6 million t in 1957) are noteworthy. There is an uranium mine near Aue in the Erzgebirge.
The production of steel in 1958 was 3 million tons, that of cast iron and ferroalloys was 1.7 million. These figures are still modest, but it should be noted that, at the time of the division of Germany, only one steel company was found (in Thuringia) in the Soviet area. The democratic republic therefore had to build several new plants, one of which, located near Fürstenberg on the Oder, gave birth to the new working-class town of Stalinstadt, which is over 16,000 residents
On the contrary, the chemical industry is highly developed and benefits from the abundance of brown coal and potash. It, which is mainly concentrated in Saxony, supplies synthetic nitrogen (Leuna), synthetic rubber, synthetic petrol, paints, fertilizers, etc.
Also noteworthy are the sectors of metallurgy, optics (Jena), textiles (Chemnitz), ceramics (Thuringia). Cement production is 3.5 million tons per year (1958). The brewery produces 12.9 million hl (1957).
Foreign trade in the GDR sees exports outnumber imports (7.5 billion rubles and 6.7 billion rubles respectively in 1958). It takes place mainly with the USSR and other Eastern European countries, but also the GDR, like the BRD, tries to export its industrial products to African and Asian markets.
The railway network of the democratic republic extends for 16,093 km. It had been damaged immediately after the war by the disassembly of the double track of many lines. It can be calculated that the railways absorb 80% of the total movement of goods. Inland waterways are important, as in the federal republic.
The road network extends for 49,157 km of which 1452 are motorways and 12,740 national roads. In 1958 there were 264,000 cars, of which 130,000 were cars. The merchant fleet, which is not very significant, has its main port in Rostock.