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Socialist Unity Party of Germany

The Socialist Unity Party of Germany (German: Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, or SED) was the governing party of East Germany (the GDR) from its formation in 1949 until the elections of 1990, following the GDR government's collapse. The SED was created in 1946 from a Soviet-influenced merger between the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) members and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) members who lived in the Soviet controlled sectors.

Table of contents
1 Early History
2 The Cold War Era
3 The Final Days
4 Related articles
5 List of Prominent SEP Members
6 External Links

Early History

Official East German and Soviet histories portray the merger between the SPD and KPD in the Soviet sector as a voluntary pooling of efforts by the socialist parties. However, there is much evidence that the merger was more troubled than commonly portrayed.

The Soviet Military Administration in Germany (Russian initials: SVAG) directly governed the eastern areas of Germany following World War II, and their intelligence operations carefully monitored all political activities. An early intelligence report from SVAG Propaganda Administration director Lieutenant Coloniel Sergei Ivanovich Tiulpanov (see External Links, below) indicates that the former KPD and SPD members formed factions within the SED party and remained rather mutually antagonistic for some time after the formation of the new party. Also reported was a great deal of difficulty in convincing the masses that the SED was a German political party, and not merely a tool of the Soviet occupation force.

According to Tiulpanov, many former members of the KPD expressed the sentiment that they had "forfeited [their] revolutionary positions, that [the KPD] alone would have succeeded much better had there been no SED, and that the Social Democrats are not to be trusted" (Tiulpanov, 1946). Tiulpanov indicated that there was a marked "political passivity" among former SPD members, who felt they were being treated unfairly and as second-class party members by the new SED administration. As a result, the early SED party apparatus became mired down as former KPD members began discussing any proposal, however small, at great length with the former SPD members, so as to achieve consensus and avoid offending them. Soviet intelligence claimed to have a list of names of an SPD group within the SED which was covertly forging links with the SPD in the West and even with the Western Allied military governments.

A problem the Soviets identified with the early SED was its potential to develop into a nationalist party. At large party meetings, members applauded speakers who talked of nationalism much more than when they spoke of solving social problems and gender equality. Some even proposed the idea of establishing an independent German socialist state free of both Soviet and Western influence, and of soon regaining the formerly German land that the Yalta Conference had reallocated to Poland.

Soviet handlers reported that SED politicians frequently pushed past the boundaries of the political statements which had been approved by the Soviet censors, and there was some initial difficulty making provincial SED parties realize that they should not oppose the political positions decided upon by the Central Committee in Berlin.

The Cold War Era

The Final Days

An SED Membership Card

Before the elections in 1990, the old Social Democratic Party was re-established as a separate party while the rump SED was renamed to Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). In this form, the party survived the reunification and managed to get representatives elected to the Bundestag. As of 2003, the PDS remains influential in Eastern areas of Germany, especially at local levels.

Related articles

List of Prominent SEP Members

External Links