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Christian Democratic Union of the GDR

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Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 31 Jul 2013, 21:19
Does anybody have any information or sources regarding the Christian Democratic Union of the GDR? Apparently some CDU members opposed the 1972 abortion law in the Volkskammer. Although I am usually left-wing when it comes it economics, I tend to be socially conservative on a number of issues (I am a Roman Catholic), so the East German CDU is interesting to me. Were there similar parties in other Warsaw Pact states?
Soviet cogitations: 710
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Mar 2011, 14:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 31 Jul 2013, 23:01
The GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia had multiple parties united in a Front which recognized the leading role of the communist party in the life of the country. Bulgaria had one other party (representing peasants) under the same Front setup. Hungary, Yugoslavia and Romania initially had multiple parties but these gave way to one-party systems. The CDU was only explicitly religious party in the Eastern Bloc.

The main point of these parties was to represent certain sections of the population that for whatever reason did not want to associate themselves with the communist parties. These never did much outside of being consulted once in a while by the communist party leaderships concerning policies that might affect that section of the population the parties in question represented, like artisan producers in the case of the LDPD, Christians (obviously) in the CDU's case, etc.
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 01 Aug 2013, 02:47
Ismail wrote:
The GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia had multiple parties united in a Front which recognized the leading role of the communist party in the life of the country. Bulgaria had one other party (representing peasants) under the same Front setup. Hungary, Yugoslavia and Romania initially had multiple parties but these gave way to one-party systems. The CDU was only explicitly religious party in the Eastern Bloc.

The main point of these parties was to represent certain sections of the population that for whatever reason did not want to associate themselves with the communist parties. These never did much outside of being consulted once in a while by the communist party leaderships concerning policies that might affect that section of the population the parties in question represented, like artisan producers in the case of the LDPD, Christians (obviously) in the CDU's case, etc.


Hi Ismail, thanks for the informative reply. What was religious policy like in the GDR and other Warsaw Pact states? My understanding is that the Roman Catholic Church was largely left alone in Poland. Did the churches in the East support the communist governments, at least on the face on things?
Soviet cogitations: 710
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Mar 2011, 14:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 01 Aug 2013, 04:29
As you might guess, being officially in a coalition with an avowedly Christian party meant that the SED did try to appeal to Christians. Ulbricht, for instance, declared that socialism and Christianity both had humanist foundations. Thomas M√ľntzer, the radical Protestant leader opposed by Luther and praised by Engels in his work The Peasant War in Germany was a popular subject in East German historiography, and used to court Christians: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/muntzer.htm

Ulbricht even proclaimed a "Ten Commandments of Socialist Morality" in 1958:
Quote:
1. Thou shalt always defend the international solidarity of the working class as well as the permanent bonds that unite all socialist countries.

2. Thou shalt love thy Fatherland and always be ready to defend worker and peasant power with all thy strength and capacity.

3. Thou shalt help to eliminate the exploitation of humans by one another.

4. Thou shalt perform good deeds for socialism, since socialism produces a better life for all working people.

5. Thou shalt act in the spirit of mutual support and comradely cooperation during the construction of socialism, respect the collective, and take its criticisms to heart.

6. Thou shalt protect and increase the property of the people.

7. Thou shalt always pursue ways to improve thy performance, be thrifty, and strengthen socialist work discipline.

8. Thou shalt rear thy children in the spirit of peace and socialism to become citizens who are well-educated, strong in character, and physically healthy.

9. Thou shalt live a clean and decent life and respect thy family.

10. Thou shalt exhibit solidarity with all those people who are fighting for national liberation and defending their independence.


One of the unique roles of the CDU was to represent the East German churches to the West Germans. The West German CDU, however, did not take its Eastern counterpart seriously and viewed it as an impotent mouthpiece of the SED.

In the late 80's the CDU did play a role in the dissident movement, using churches as centers for such activity.

As for the church itself, the vast majority of East Germans were Christians and both the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches existed and, until the late 80's, didn't cause much trouble for the government. One way such trouble was checked was the defeat of a late 40's proposal for the CDU and other parties to have their own youth organizations. The SED's view that the Free German Youth should be the only youth organization won out. Relations with the West German churches were also severed during the 50's (though contacts revived in the 70's onwards.)

And yes, after 1956 the Polish church regained some of its traditional privileges, even including religious education in schools. Yugoslavia's policy was also pretty lax, though not to the Polish extent. As for Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria, their relations with the church were strained but there was still the whole freedom to worship thing, churches continued to operate, etc. It was only in Albania that churches and all clergy were forcibly suppressed and the act of worship practically made illegal.
Soviet cogitations: 2051
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 03 Aug 2013, 04:14
Interestingly, I read an article recently discussing that former East Germany is still one of the least religious areas in Europe.
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Soviet cogitations: 3618
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Politburo
Post 10 Aug 2013, 08:47
In 1950, 85% of the East German population were members of a Protestant church. In 1989, the number was 25%. In that period, the number of people not attached to any church rose from 6% to 70%. I suppose that the DDR, although it tried to appeal to the Christian population, still promoted atheism more than anything. Officially, there was freedom of religion. In practice, there was sometimes confrontation and repression, and at other times relaxation.

The eastern CDU, like the other bloc parties outside of the SED, was founded to accommodate those groups who could not conscientiously join the SED. All these parties recognised the leading role of the SED in DDR society. Hence, all votes in the Volkskammer were unanimously pro-government except for an abortion bill, where some CDU members voted against or abstained, and the succession of Egon Krenz.
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