East Germany Table of Contents
The technical intelligentsia is a broadly formed social group comprising those who, in the words of one observer, "directly or indirectly do the brain work" of managing the country. Thomas A. Baylis, a social scientist who has studied the East German technical intelligentsia, estimated the numerical strength of this group at about 3 percent of the total population in the early 1970s (7 to 8 percent of the work force). He included in this group "the chief governmental planners and economists; bureaucrats with important economic, technical, or scientific responsibilities; industrial managers; physical scientists and mathematicians; engineers; and educators and journalists in scientific, technical, and economic fields." The political elite has recognized the utility, indeed the necessity, of the technical intelligentsia in helping to develop and run the economy and society. The Constitution calls upon the intelligentsia to ally itself with the working class and other sections of the population for "the planning and management of social development in accordance with the most advanced scientific knowledge."
Two subgroups constitute the technical intelligentsia: the old intelligentsia, which is made up of members of the prewar upper middle class, and the new intelligentsia, which includes a generation of technocrats trained under the watchful eye and guidance of the political elite. During the 1940s and 1950s, party leaders replaced many of the old intelligentsia who held positions in education, government, and the legal professions. In these areas, standards of performance were relaxed so that politically reliable and tested individuals could assume key positions. Scientists, technicians, managers, engineers, and planners could not be replaced as easily. Authorities, therefore, sought to co-opt these more technically minded individuals. Initially an effort was made to re-educate them politically, that is, to inspire in them a loyalty to the government and to Marxist-Leninist ideals. Ultimately the aid of the intelligentsia was purchased by offering members of the group attractive material rewards and high social status. For example, in the mid1970s special individual contracts were concluded with those whose skills were most sorely needed. Base salaries ranged from 4,000 to 15,000 GDR marks per month. (This was five to twenty times the average monthly income of an industrial worker at that time.) In addition an attractive package of benefits was tailor made for the technical intelligentsia. They received priority in housing; their children were admitted to the universities; bonuses and extra paid holidays were stipulated in their contracts; and they were provided with pension plans guaranteeing incomes of up to 90 percent of their preretirement incomes. Private shops and clubs were established to cater to their needs. To satisfy a personal need for recognition, honorary titles, e.g., Honorary Chief Engineer, Honored Inventor, Distinguished Scientist of the People, and medals were awarded for a job well done. These perquisites set the old technical intelligentsia apart from the general population. The wooing of the old intelligentsia also created a certain amount of tension and frustration within the party ranks. The older dogmatists distrusted the intelligentsia because of their lack of political commitment; the younger cadres resented the inequitable distribution of benefits. East German leaders consider the new technical intelligentsia to be a stratum rather than a social class, that is, members of a nonantagonistic group drawn from and committed to the working class and separated from it only insofar as their work involves intellectual labor. The long-term approach of the political leadership has been to create and train a new generation of managers, scientists, and technicians who were politically "reliable" as well as technically competent. This new intelligentsia was to embody the true "socialist personality," reflecting the interests of the working class and living in a spirit of collective unity. Bonuses and benefits were similar to those extended to the old intelligentsia. The state also awarded the new intelligentsia various kinds of honorary titles similar to those given to the old intelligentsia.
Data as of July 1987
East Germany Table of Contents