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Quality of Life in 1980's East Germany

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 May 2009, 20:58
Pioneer
Post 29 Apr 2010, 09:25
Hello all, what was the quality of life like for the average East German citizen in the 1980's? Pay, rent, price opf essentials, environment, access to sports, culture etc. How did it compare to West Germany? whaere was it superior, inferior?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 29 Apr 2010, 11:21
Quote:
Pay, rent, price opf essentials,


Minimum wage about 200 marks, average wage about 900 marks. Rent for a luxurious apartment was about 100 marks. Some sample prices:

A loaf of bread: 0,50 M
1 kg of wheat: 1 M
A bottle of milk: 0,34 M
A chocolate bar: 2 M
A simple meal in a restaurant: 2,35 M
A pack of cigarettes: 1,60 M
An EP with pop music: 4,60 M

Quote:
environment


Was pretty much not cared about at all, as in the whole world at the time. Remember we're talking about the 80's.

Quote:
access to sports


There were sports clubs in the whole GDR, membership was free or almost free.

Quote:
culture


Museums were free or almost free as well. There was lots of state-produced pop music and arts, with censorship of course.

Quote:
How did it compare to West Germany? whaere was it superior, inferior?


The quality of life was certainly better in terms of security and access to basic goods, you never had to be afraid of unemployment or losing your home. The only thing that was better in the West was that there were more luxury goods for a few rich people, really, and less censorship.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Soviet cogitations: 182
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 May 2009, 20:58
Pioneer
Post 29 Apr 2010, 17:11
Thanks so much for that response Mabool

Quote:
The quality of life was certainly better in terms of security and access to basic goods, you never had to be afraid of unemployment or losing your home


That is what I find very impressive about the Warsaw Pact/communist states. They focussed on the priorities of daily life like education, healthcare, housing, employment and were able to give most people a very safe, comfortable and dignified existence. In the West we may have more freedom to say what we like and (when we have money) to choose between more goods, but we also have unemployment (2.5 million in the UK- but likely even more, and more to come!), absolute poverty, massive inequalities. homelessness, huge drug problems and crime. All of this occurs at a time when there is vast wealth and the means to produce more wealth lie idle because its not yet profitable enough for capital to begin production. Moreover this (unnecessary, I would say) wealth acts to taunt those at the bottom of the system and destroy their hopes.
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 29 Apr 2010, 20:05
Quote:
and were able to give most people a very safe, comfortable and dignified existence


Hmmm.Maybe DDR did,but Romania for example didn't.Poland also wasn't much better.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
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Post 29 Apr 2010, 21:46
Mabool wrote:
[environment] was pretty much not cared about at all, as in the whole world at the time. Remember we're talking about the 80's.


What about East Germany's recycling program, SERO? I thought it was the first of its kind in the world, starting up in the 60s? Of course it wasn't based only on environmental concerns, and more based on the GDR's desire to conserve resources, but it should still count, no?

...

As regards this topic, East Germany showed I think how socialism could look in a first world state (minus the pervasiveness of Stasi and the Wall, both of which existed because the GDR was a frontline state). Even with its resource poor economy, the GDR turned itself into one of the top ten economies in the world, and one surpassing even some wealthy European states in per capita standards of living in the 1980s.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 30 Apr 2010, 09:26
Quote:
What about East Germany's recycling program, SERO? I thought it was the first of its kind in the world, starting up in the 60s? Of course it wasn't based only on environmental concerns, and more based on the GDR's desire to conserve resources, but it should still count, no?


You've got your point there,but it doesn't change the overall picture.
Mabool knows more about DDR than we do i guess.
I've been researching about pollution in former WP countries,and saw videos/pics of horrible environmental neglect in DDR during the 80's-factories without filters causing lung diseases(and a man shows how his new roof rusted in just a few years),and so on...
SU was a champion in neglect,though.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 30 Apr 2010, 12:03
The purpose of SERO was recycling due to lack of resources, not because of environmental concerns, although it did help combat pollution to a small degree of course. But in general, the SED really neglected the matter. Around some chemical factories in the far east of the country, pollution was so bad that road signs became illegible and snow was black.

But of course, this was not the case in the whole country - East Berlin, for instance, was a very clean and tidy city.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 30 Apr 2010, 16:04
Mabool,please give links to articles/videos...
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
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Post 30 Apr 2010, 17:18
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
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Post 30 Apr 2010, 17:38
Quote:
You've got your point there,but it doesn't change the overall picture.
Mabool knows more about DDR than we do i guess.


lol In this case Mabool knows more because his view coincides with your judgement of Eastern Bloc environmental neglect?

There's no need to tell someone who has family in Kemerovo (which was one of the heaviest industrial cities in the USSR) that there were environmental problems. However, there were also environmentalist projects from the 1970s on, including projects to save endangered species, to restore the pristine nature of Lake Baikal, etc. Then of course there's the fact about how little garbage the average Soviet citizen made yearly, how an efficient public transportation system meant less polluting cars, and the energy savings from apartment living. I have a children's book about geography from the mid-1980s called 'The Earth and Humanity', and it's written there in black and white about how young children must do all they can to 'take care to preserve our planet'. Another quote reads: 'How rich is our country in natural beauty, but it isn't infinite, and so must be protected and preserved. In our government much is being done for the protection of the air, water, soil, plant and animal life. Especially guarded are territories marked 'state reserves' (a map listing dozens of such sites all across the country is shown on the same page). Thus environmental consciousness was growing, officially sanctioned, in the USSR during the 1980s. I am certain that the GDR, which was more developed economically and technologically, was growing a similar consciousness in this period.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 30 Apr 2010, 18:14
Quote:
lol In this case Mabool knows more because his view coincides with your judgement of Eastern Bloc environmental neglect?


No,but because he's from Germany,and therefore is able to get much deeper into the subject,watch old newspapers,or articles we can't access or talk to people.That's why i said that.
I have also seen(and uploaded) Soviet posters about environmental protection,but it still doesn't mean that the environment wasn't neglected(and still is).
I don't understand how come there's an open cesspit of chemicals in Dzerzhinsk a few km's away from a settlement that can be seen from Goggle Earth?
Or Lake Karachai,and Mayak reprocessing facility dumping liquid rad-waste in small Techa river,or old nuclear subs and waste being intentionally sunk in Kara Sea etc.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
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Post 13 May 2010, 10:30
Quote:
I have also seen(and uploaded) Soviet posters about environmental protection,but it still doesn't mean that the environment wasn't neglected(and still is).


A change in consciousness and culture cannot come overnight, but the fact that the Soviet government, the propaganda apparatus, and people generally had begun thinking about nature in a new way (i.e. not just an endless base of resources through which humans can come to live better lives) is a positive thing.

There were some projects, and environmental disaster zones, that either couldn't be avoided due to resource and technological constraints, or weren't due to recklessness or to maintaining old attitudes. It's a valid point that as a virtually self-sufficient economy, the USSR had to extract and produce almost everything the country consumed. This meant that the environmental consequences of its growth and consumption were suffered by the USSR itself, rather than by some third world country extracting resources and making goods for export while suffering the effects of environmental damage themselves.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 13 May 2010, 10:52
Quote:
There were some projects, and environmental disaster zones, that either couldn't be avoided due to resource and technological constraints, or weren't due to recklessness or to maintaining old attitudes. It's a valid point that as a virtually self-sufficient economy, the USSR had to extract and produce almost everything the country consumed. This meant that the environmental consequences of its growth and consumption were suffered by the USSR itself, rather than by some third world country extracting resources and making goods for export while suffering the effects of environmental damage themselves.


It's a good point again,but certain things can really be explained with,as you've said," recklessness or to maintaining old attitudes".
But even before general recklessness,neglect,theft spread throughout the country with Perestroika we have examples of "state-recklessness" as in before mentioned "ED zones"
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Mar 2011, 18:09
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Post 16 Apr 2011, 06:27
Isn't it true that East Germany was the most prosperous out of the whole Eastern Bloc? I remember hearing that East Germany was the showcase for socialism in the area.
Wonder Kim Powers Unite!
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 11 Sep 2009, 07:33
Ideology: Left Communism
Forum Commissar
Post 17 Apr 2011, 03:22
In the UN's Human Development Index tables for 1990 the GDR ranks 110th out of 130, with 130th having the highest score, in this case Japan with 0.996. The GDR is ranked 110th with 0.953 (the highest of any Warsaw Pact state). For comparison, the USA is ranked 112th, with 0.961 and the USSR 105th, with 0.920.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Mar 2011, 18:09
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Post 18 Apr 2011, 04:32
Quote:
In the UN's Human Development Index tables for 1990 the GDR ranks 110th out of 130, with 130th having the highest score, in this case Japan with 0.996. The GDR is ranked 110th with 0.953 (the highest of any Warsaw Pact state). For comparison, the USA is ranked 112th, with 0.961 and the USSR 105th, with 0.920.


How did West Germany compare to its Eastern counterpart?
Wonder Kim Powers Unite!
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 11 Sep 2009, 07:33
Ideology: Left Communism
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Post 18 Apr 2011, 13:13
The FRG is ranked 119th, with a HDI of 0.967.

The GDR is ranked the highest of all the socialist states, with Czechoslovakia in second, with a rank of 106th and a HDI of 0.931.
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 28 May 2011, 11:33
Found this table in my Politics school-book.

"The difference in living standards between West and East Germany in 1989"
(taken from "The Macro Economy Today" by Bradley R. Schiller)

It shows the price of several products as a percentage of average monthly income in West and East Germany

Color TV: West Germany:38% / East Germany:588%
Washing machine: 48% / 365%
Car(VW Polo/Trabant): 1143% / 11765%
Beef,1 kg: 0,7% / 1%
Jeans: 3% / 15%
Women's shoes: 4% / 14%
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 28 May 2011, 12:18
Yeah well it's not like these ar things you need to buy very often.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 28 May 2011, 14:38
Of course.
The impression i got is that everyday goods(food etc) and services(apartment rent etc) were really cheap or free,but some things were indeed rather pricey.
Now,how much money could an average East German save every month?
According to this table,it took almost 6 monthly salaries to buy a new TV,so i guess one had to save for at least a year or two to buy one....
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