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East Germany

Amendments of 1974

In September 1974, Honecker declared in a statement to the People's Chamber that "it has become necessary to amend the present constitution." Several important amendments that were passed on that day represented a fundamental revision of the 1968 Constitution. The 1974 amendments did not change the basic socialist order but encompassed important developments that had occurred after Honecker had replaced Ulbricht as first secretary of the SED in May 1971. First, the 1974 amendments eliminated all references to the German nation to reflect the Honecker regime's new policy of demarcation (Abgrenzung--see Glossary), which in 1972 replaced the policy of rapprochement (Annäherung) and emphasized the ideological differences between the two Germanies. Instead of describing East Germany as a socialist state of the German nation, Article 1 was rewritten to proclaim that East Germany is a "socialist state of workers and peasants" and to abrogate the earlier commitment to the reunification of the two German states on the basis of democracy and socialism.

The amendments also strengthened East Germany's ties to the Soviet Union. References to the German nation were eliminated from the Constitution, and Article 6, Section 2 proclaimed that the country is "forever and irrevocably connected to the Socialist Soviet Republic." The 1968 version had emphasized only comprehensive cooperation and friendship with the other socialist states. Articles 76 through 80 also significantly increased the role of the Council of Ministers (Ministerrat) and its chairman relative to that of the Council of State (Staatsrat). Honecker further put his stamp on the 1974 amendments by incorporating in Article 2 a goal first announced at the Eighth Party Congress in 1971: raising the standard of living, in material and cultural terms, was identified as the primary goal of the "advanced socialist society."

Data as of July 1987