Officially, there was no place for private entrepreneurs in state socialism. As “class enemies” they were at best tolerated for a brief period of transition to socialism. But theory and practice differed from each other and policies in the three countries took a different turn from another early on. The most remarkable case among the three is the former GDR. Despite its reputation for being “orthodox” in its policy making, the GDR leadership never completely nationalized the private sector up till 1989 and private entrepreneurs in the late GDR belonged to the most privileged social group after high party nomenclature. In the lecture, the attitude of party leadership in the three countries to private entrepreneurship will be compared with a focus on late socialism and an emphasis on the GDR as “maverick” country in this field among the state-socialist regimes.
Max Trecker studied history and economics at the LMU Munich and CEU Budapest. He has been a research associate in the project on the history of the Treuhandanstalt at the Institute for Contemporary History Munich-Berlin, since May 2020 he is a research associate at the GWZO in the project “Socialist development models for the ‘Third World“. He is the author of Red Money for the Global South: The Economic Side of the Cold War in the Third World, London