Background: This is the introduction by Walter Ulbricht to a booklet on the first East German Five Year Plan. The brochure itself goes on at some length to outline the goals and methods of the plan. Ulbricht presents a rosy view of the future, trying to persuade East Germans that the new government really had their best interests at heart.
The source: Gesetz über den Fünfjahrplan zur Entwicklung der Volkswirtschaft der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik 1951-1955 (Berlin: Amt für Information der Regierung der DDR, 1952).
Our Five Year Plan for Peaceful Reconstruction
This is no ordinary reading material, no brochure like many others, which one leafs through and sets aside. It contains your fate. In its pages you will see your future. This is the government’s law on the Five Year Plan to develop the German Democratic Republic. It developed according to the will and wishes of all democratic parties and mass organizations. They approved it unanimously it at the historic meeting of the Volkskammer on 1 November 1951. You have before you the law that will determine our lives, the law for building a happy, peaceful Germany.
Any sensible family has a budget that lays out how much will be spent for household and other purposes. Without such planning, things would quickly go awry. What is true of the family is even more true of the great family of the nation!
This obvious truth is not recognized everywhere. In many other nations, including the Western part of our Fatherland, the economy does not take heed of the people’s needs. The guiding principle is not to manufacture the goods everyone needs, rather to earn profits for a few capitalists. This hunger for profits causes great misery for the people.
We see in West Germany that the number of millionaires is growing even as workers’ real wages and incomes are sinking. The armaments manufacturers in France and England are doing well, but constant inflation is devouring the purchasing power of working people. Rationing of important foodstuffs in England is not only being maintained, but increased. That is how it is where the government spends a major part of the national income on armaments.
We neither want nor need such developments here. We in the German Democratic Republic are not afraid of the coming year, but look forward to it. Something new has happened: For the first time in German history our fatherland is guided by a plan that considers only the needs of the people, and aims at building prosperity and reconstructing of our fatherland. Only a few years have passed since the terrible catastrophe. Still we can see an improvement in our living standard from year to year. We owe that to the early fulfillment of the Two Year Plan of 1949-1950, and the economic successes of 1951.
The Five Year Plan proposes even faster growth. Industrial production will more than double by 1955 when compared to 1936. By next year, 1953, rationing will be abolished and all foodstuffs and industrial goods will be available at fixed and affordable prices. By 1955 we will have more meat, sugar, milk, etc., per capita than we did in 1936. The same will be true of many other important goods.
When has there ever been a government in German history that came to the people and revealed its detailed plans for the coming years? That could not happen before, since German governments planned war and conquest. They stood in opposition to the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population. In the West, too, unfortunately, the government is part of American war plans. The West German population would protest passionately if it knew what secret meetings between the federal chancellor, McCoy, and foreign and Nazi generals are planning.
The government of the German Democratic Republic rejects secret policies. It works for the people, and only the people, so it does not need to keep secrets like the warmongers. The big factories belong to the people, and the armaments industries, the Nazi criminals and the Junkers have been gotten rid of. They were the ones enriched by war. Because we have eliminated the anarchy of monopoly capitalism, we could develop this plan and take the first steps to fulfilling it.
Thanks to the plan we here lay before you, you are in the position to follow from quarter to quarter how industries, crafts, commerce, agriculture, forestry and the health system will develop. You will see the plans for the physical and intellectual well-being of your youth. And you will not only follow the developments, my fellow citizens! Gifts fall from heaven only in fairy tales. If we want to live in the way the Five Year Plan 1951-1955 proposes and we will! each of us must help. The popularly elected parliament and the government propose the plan, guide the investments, determine what factories will be built and expanded, decide on the goals for industry and agriculture, and see to it that the cities get food from the countryside and the countryside receives manufactured goods from these cities.
But our goal can only be reached through the work of each individual citizen. The more you participate in our common endeavors, the more successful your work in the factory, mine, wharf, or village, in an economic institute or in the arts, in commerce or administration, the sooner we will be where we all want to be. The success of each of us benefits us all, and the success of us all benefits each of us individually. Let there be great enthusiasm for the plan throughout the entire republic that will overcome all obstacles. Let us join together to realize the Five Year Plan and bring our economy and our own living standards to previously unknown heights.
I want to say one more thing. The nature of a democracy consists to an important degree in the right of the people to criticize problems and mistakes. I ask you to let the government know immediately when you see serious problems or mistakes that stand in the way of our great community endeavor.
In the past, people worked together only when some great disaster threatened. Today we are in the midst of a vast project that will bring happiness to us all, and will prevent new disasters from befalling our suffering people. Dear fellow citizens, this plan is not only a shining beacon for us, but also stands against the lying fog that McCoy and Adenauer wish to spread between us and our fellow German citizens in the West. It is the most important contribution we can make to speeding up reunification. The plan shows that the twenty million people in the German democratic Republic and in the democratic sector of Berlin think only of peace, and that they are working for freedom and peaceful prosperity. Spreading the truth about the Five Year Plan will make our Western countrymen immune to the warmongering of the imperialist camp that is trying to persuade Germans to murder their brothers and hate the East. It wants West Germany to become a battleground.
Let us get to work, in full knowledge that the plan will awaken the great creative forces in each German and help them to blossom! Let us show our fellow countrymen and the entire world what the Germans can do when they work for peace. Let us together build a happy and prosperous life, free from debts and oppression, built on firm foundations that will guarantee peace in Europe.
I send you and your family my heartiest greetings for the new year. I wish you health, creativity and success at your work. May we soon enjoy the fruits of our labor in a peaceful and united Germany.
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