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By Professor Raymond G. Stokes PhD

With a cloud of blue smoke and a high-pitched whine, Trabant autos carried many East Germans westward after the Berlin Wall got here down in November 1989. The car's Nineteen Fifties layout, noticeable environmental incorrectness, and all-plastic physique grew to become a logo of the technological boundaries of East German communism. although unfair and oversimplified, the well-known photo from the early Nineties of the rear of a Trabi sticking out from a dumpster looked as if it would indicate that the auto, just like the procedure which had produced it, have been consigned to the dustbin of heritage. yet as Raymond G. Stokes issues out in developing Socialism, japanese Germany in 1945 used to be some of the most hugely built, technologically refined business parts on the earth. regardless of the glaring failings of its expertise by means of the past due Nineteen Eighties, the German Democratic Republic maintained complex technological strength in chosen components. If the method itself was once essentially incorrect, what explains successes lower than the exact same process? Why might the successes no longer be repeated in different components? And if examples of luck are so remoted, how did East Germany last up to it did?To resolution those questions, developing Socialism examines the method of innovation that brought a few minimum point of technological excellence into the East German economic system and undefined. concentrating on good fortune instead of failure, Stokes bargains a normal heritage of East German know-how among 1945 and 1990. He combines an summary and synthesis of rising scholarly literature with an exam of newly opened archival fabric which will discover concerns that come with automation, standardization, expertise move and technological tourism, and espionage. developing Socialism investigates particular applied sciences and machines but additionally emphasizes the folks who designed and carried out them and the cultural context and meanings of technological platforms.

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Extra info for Constructing socialism: technology and change in East Germany 1945-1990

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Despite this impressive legacy of earlier German industrialization and technological excellence, there were some inherent difficulties in the situation of the Soviet zone at war’s end. First, although there were substantial damages to the industry of the area owing to the war and its aftermath, much of the physical plant that existed in the zone in mid∞Ω∂∑ had been built relatively recently. It therefore also bore the mark of the National Socialist orientation toward autarky, or domestic economic self-sufficiency, and war.

Some modern and very large chemical plants were located not far from Leipzig, in Wolfen, Bitterfeld, Schkopau, and Merseburg, in the so-called chemical triangle running northeast from Halle to Bitterfeld, southwest to Merseburg, and back northeast to Halle. Most of them—and all the important ones—had pre- Technology in the Soviet Zone, 1945–1949 | 17 viously belonged to I. G. ∂ Factories in Wolfen and Bitterfeld concentrated on dye and film manufacture. Schkopau was a major producer of synthetic rubber, or buna, while the Leuna factory in Merseburg had a sophisticated, technologically advanced plant producing a wide range of synthetic products.

The GDR’s first attempts to create a new, socialist national system of innovation during the ∞Ω∑≠s entailed dependence upon people, organizations, and technologies from the German past. But by ∞Ω∑π–∑∫ a very different set of institutions and practices had been created—one more centralized, planned, and regimented than at any time before in German history. To be sure, the efforts ended in severe disappointment, as the new system of innovation failed to deliver on its promises, at least as compared to the performance of the rival and thrusting West German system of innovation.

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