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The Formation of Socialist Elites in the GDR: Continuities with National Socialist Germany/Sozialistische Elitenbildung in der DDR: Kontinuitätsstränge zum nationalsozialistischen Deutschland

Heinrich Best
Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung
Vol. 35, No. 3 (133), Focus: Integration or Exclusion: Former National Socialists in the GDR / Integration oder Ausgrenzung: Ehemalige Nationalsozialisten in der DDR (2010), pp. 36-46
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25758836
Page Count: 11
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The Formation of Socialist Elites in the GDR: Continuities with National Socialist Germany/Sozialistische Elitenbildung in der DDR: Kontinuitätsstränge zum nationalsozialistischen Deutschland
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Abstract

The legitimacy of the rule of a socialist elite was essentially based on meeting the criteria of its own ideology, thus it is appropriate to define the congruity of the criteria of the system of conviction and the practice of its realization. Concerning power elites of the GDR this can particularly be done while looking at their involvement in the system of rule of National Socialism. Here, it is about the legitimatory core of the SED's power structure, as from its beginnings to its end anti-fascism was the most important ideologem of its ideology of power. There is ample empirical evidence that, in the respective birth cohorts, there was a considerable share of former NSDAP members among the First and Second Secretaries of the SED County Committees in the districts of Erfurt, Gera, and Suhl. The fact that their past during the NS regime was overwhelmingly characterized by collaboration and fellow travelling may be supposed to have even supported a kind of submissive loyalty towards a party centre which had the power to allocate positions and direct careers. However, functionaries with a National Socialist entanglement did not have much to offer to the "governed 'masses'", except maybe the impression of being similar to a population which, after all, did also not consist of anti-fascist resistance fighters or victims of persecution.

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