East Germany Table of Contents
At the Tenth Party Congress in 1981, SED party chief Honecker stressed that "the continuous increase in the leading role of the party in all spheres of society is an objective necessity." The SED leadership holds that the "cadre question" is decisive and that the best way to secure the party's "leading role" is to train loyal cadres who demonstrate devotion to the party, unconditional submission to the leadership, have the proper qualifications, and undergo ideological instruction.
In practice, every member of the SED who is active within the party or state apparatus must undergo continuous education during the course of his or her political career. The organizational backbone of the party is the cadre, the leadership at all levels of the party organization. The selection and training of cadres, carried out by the higher levels of the party apparatus, is designed to strengthen internal party structures and to ensure the unity of the SED.
Cadre selection is an involved procedure that begins with the Nomenklatur (see Glossary), a listing of the most critical positions in the party and state apparatuses over which the party exercises its appointment power. Because the Nomenklatur system does not provide a means for determining which individuals will ultimately qualify to take key positions in the party and state apparatuses, the SED has employed three interrelated programs for "long-term and purposeful cadre development." Known as the cadre reservoir, cadre recruitment, and cadre reserve, these programs attempt to meet the constant demand for recruits in the dual party-government system. The cadre reservoir consists of all graduates of institutions of higher education. By the time they reach adolescence, students are required to demonstrate whether or not they are interested in pursuing a career in the cadre system. Through the FDJ and the FDGB, the party provides those students interested in joining the cadre system with special opportunities for developing such career interests and skills. The FDJ is particularly important in this regard, having provided a ladder of advancement for many leading members of the East German Nomenklatur. Individuals who demonstrate the motivation and ability for cadre training programs are moved into cadre recruitment, the second phase of the system. Cadre recruitment involves an extensive training program, which the individual must complete in a period of two to five years, depending on the nature of the position for which the candidate undergoes training. At the time an individual is accepted into the cadre recruitment program, usually upon graduation from a secondary institution, the person's name is also entered on the Nomenklatur, even though he or she cannot move into such a position until formal completion of the recruitment program.
The final part of the program requires the trainee to undergo a more intensive program in the cadre reserve, which prepares the individual for entrance into the party or state apparatus. An appropriate training program ensures that the individual will be fully prepared to undertake full-time cadre responsibilities. Although the duration of such a program varies, each trainee is required to work within the guidelines of a "cadre plan" and a long-term "cadre and educational program," both of which terminate at the end of a five-year planning period.
Once they have entered the appropriate apparatus, party and state functionaries are required to undergo extended periods of additional training. Official training manuals recommend an ongoing process of formal and informal training. The industrial and technological nature of East German society requires that political leaders have more than an awareness of technology, science, and the principles of large-scale organization. Party schools, the primary educational institutions for the cadres, offer courses of instruction in Marxism-Leninism and the technical and social sciences. An early 1980s listing of the available institutions for advanced cadre training included factory and regional schools of Marxism-Leninism, district party schools, various correspondence study courses, five-year study programs offering diplomas in the social sciences, and, finally, participation in special lecture series and evening courses at local educational institutions. For years, nearly all middle and higher functionaries have been indoctrinated at party schools, and to a great extent the same has been achieved for lower functionaries. In the early 1980s, over 80 percent of the approximately 80,230 party secretaries who headed the basic SED organizations had spent more than a year at a party school, and 64.5 percent were graduates of universities or professional schools.
Although it is difficult to evaluate in concrete terms the results of the selection and training programs, the educational level of the SED as a whole has risen substantially, as has the educational level of members of the party and state apparatuses. It is unclear to what extent subjective factors such as personality and political and family connections may bias both the administration and the outcomes of such programs. The foremost need of the SED for individuals who can perform the administrative and political work required by a complex society is undisputed, however.
Data as of July 1987
East Germany Table of Contents