East Germany Table of Contents
The SED is organized according to a "territorial-industrial" principle. The units of the party are organized on a hierarchical basis, conforming at the higher levels to administrative divisions within the country. The work of each subordinate party organization is subject to supervision and control by a superior one. In theory these restrictions and duties are counterbalanced by the "right of discussion and the election of party organs."
The basic party organizations, called Grundorganizationen (GOs) are "the foundation of the party"; they are organized primarily at places of work. There are several kinds of GOs: the industrial party organization, (Betriebsparteiorganization), the residential party organization, (Wohnparteiorganization), the local party organization, (Ortsparteiorganization), and basic party organizations in the armed forces.A GO is formed when there are at least three members in a factory, cooperative, office, institution, administration, social welfare enterprise, urban or rural residential area, enterprise, university, or armed forces unit. To conform with the administrative divisions of the country, the GOs are integrated into district, city, and citydistrict party organizations, all within regional party organizations.
Although a GO is formed when at least 3 party members are present in an area, a section party organization (Abteilungsparteiorganization--APO) may be formed in enterprises having more than 150 members. The duties of the APOs entail selection and dismissal of members and encouragement of higher productivity, greater civic consciousness, and strengthened ideological awareness. The APO thus occupies a key position in the implementation of the party's program.
According to SED statutes, the main task of the GO is "to secure the politico-ideological and organizational influence of the party in the realization of its leading role in all social spheres." The activity of the GO is oriented also toward "mobilizing and organizing the masses to fulfilling state, economic, and cultural tasks." Party group organizers and their deputies meet regularly, at least once a month; the meetings are convened by the GO or APO party secretary, and members are briefed on the party work in their organizational area. The GO is an important conduit in the flow of information between the lower levels and the leading organs of the party and government, requisite to directing and planning the society. The GO is also designed to represent a forum for the public to express their opinions, concerns, interests, approval, or disapproval of policies and activities.
There are two kinds of GOs worthy of special note: those in government ministries and those in the armed forces. The former are responsible to the party level with jurisdiction over an entire ministry or regional government organization; the GOs report to the corresponding geographical (local, district, or national) party authority, thus enabling the party to maintain and enhance its control over the activities of the state organs. In 1983 there were 57,782 GOs and 26,386 APOs, or a total of 84,168 organizations. In 1987 no figures were available concerning the number of GOs and APOs having large memberships. The official view is that these basic units secure the party's "political ideological influence . . . in all spheres of social life"; for the individual member, they are said to be "a political home in which the member is firmly rooted and in whose communist sphere he feels at home and from which he draws new strength."
Judging by the directives issued for the election of party organization leadership in the fall of 1983, the chief task of party groups at the lower levels is to achieve particular economic goals. Although the "heart and soul of party work" are proclaimed to be "political and ideological work with the people," the "criteria . . . for judging the results of political leadership" by party organizations deal almost exclusively with the details of economic matters.
Data as of July 1987
East Germany Table of Contents