February 21, 2024
The German Democratic Republic’s Well being Care System

‘Socialism Is the Greatest Prophylaxis’: The German Democratic Republic’s Well being Care System

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The German Democratic Republic’s Well being Care System


Desk of Contents

  1. About Research on the DDR
  2. Well being Care in a Sick System
  3. Historic Circumstances within the Years Previous the DDR
  4. The DDR’s Complete Strategy to Well being Care
  5. Contradictions and Challenges
  6. The Polyclinic: A Trendy Strategy to Outpatient Care
  7. Defending Well being within the Office
  8. Well being Take care of Moms and Youngsters
  9. Vaccination Methods
  10. The DDR’s Worldwide Cooperation and Medical Solidarity
  11. Why Is Socialism the Greatest Prophylaxis?


Logos IFDDR & Tricontinental


About Research on the DDR

The German Democratic Republic (DDR) was a socialist state based in East Germany in 1949 as a democratic, antifascist response to the Second World Struggle and the next restoration of monopoly capitalism in West Germany. The DDR represented a brand new Germany, one wherein the land was redistributed, the technique of manufacturing socialised, and the agricultural system collectivised. It established an egalitarian schooling, healthcare, and social system and assured equal rights between women and men. It cultivated pleasant and close-knit financial relationships with different socialist states and exercised political and materials solidarity with international locations and actions combating for his or her independence in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

The DDR’s declared goal was to determine a simply society primarily based on the rules of equality. With public possession of the technique of manufacturing as its basis, the nation developed into a robust and environment friendly industrial state that used its financial surplus for the good thing about its residents and assured them a lifetime of social safety. In the end, the DDR was profitable in realising its predominant socio-political objective: to fulfill its folks’s rising materials and cultural wants.

Why hassle re-examining the DDR’s achievements, rules, and constructions thirty years after its downfall? What can we be taught from its different financial practices in in the present day’s world, the place the triumph of capitalism has exacerbated the issues of inequality and poverty and has resulted in additional frequent crises? What did socialist democracy actually appear to be? What contradictions arose throughout the on a regular basis utility of a deliberate economic system? What classes can we draw from the DDR’s final demise?

With this collection, Research on the DDR, the Internationale Forschungsstelle DDR (Worldwide Analysis Centre DDR) along with Tricontinental: Institute for Social Analysis search to encourage a brand new engagement with the historical past and rules of the DDR. It’s our objective to re-evaluate the legacy and experiences of this mission of socialist development. We use the German acronym DDR, or Deutsche Demokratische Republik, (English: GDR) particularly as a result of it typically represents a optimistic level of reference in lots of components of the world and particularly for international locations within the International South.

This academic collection on the agenda and realities of the DDR explores elements of on a regular basis life, offers details in regards to the nation’s social achievements, and examines the political and financial foundations of this socialist state. By reflecting on the lived experiences of day by day life, that are usually not noted of the dominant narrative because of the crushing victory of capitalism and the dominance of the market economic system, we search to make a helpful contribution to the debates at present happening inside progressive actions. In spite of everything, thousands and thousands of individuals all over the world are nonetheless combating for developments that have been as soon as a given within the socialist system however have been misplaced with its downfall.

In 1990, after the reunification of Germany, the DDR’s economic system was dismantled. It was handled as a shock remedy prototype for the austerity measures that have been quickly imposed on different international locations – and never simply the previous socialist states. On the identical time, the DDR was politically, judicially, and morally delegitimised. The publications on this collection are a rejection of the narrative propagated by enemies of socialism, each new and outdated, that the demise of the DDR proves the inevitable failure of socialist coverage and economic system. By depicting the realities of life within the DDR and by affirming the experiences of DDR residents, we hope to remind the reader that options to capitalism did and do exist.

This second publication in Research on the DDR explores the development and enlargement of the DDR’s well being care system within the many years following the Second World Struggle. Within the context of restricted financial sources and fierce competitors with capitalist West Germany, the DDR was in a position to develop a pioneering strategy to drugs that positioned folks over earnings and emphasised the significance of social tasks in stopping illness. The insights gained from this historic expertise of constructing an efficient, universally accessible well being care system can function a body of reference for these struggling in the direction of a society organised for and by working folks.


1. Well being Care in a Sick System

The style wherein a society approaches problems with well being reveals a lot about its normal character. The precedence given to folks’s well being, the diploma to which people are protected and handled equally, and the extent to which well being care is geared in the direction of folks’s actual wants paints an image of the present social and political situations.

Well being coverage can’t, nonetheless, be lowered to the system of medical care alone. It’s inseparable from working situations, diet, housing, and schooling; the character of social relationships; leisure and cultural behaviour; and quite a few different elements that type the idea upon which individuals’s bodily and psychological well being develop. The interrelationship between these parts was already being mentioned in Germany throughout the early growth of capitalism. An instance of this was the work of the German doctor Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902), the founder of recent pathology and a pioneer of what was then known as ‘social hygiene’ (Sozialhygiene). This subject, now related to the phrases social drugs or public well being, investigates the interplay between folks’s well being and their social situations. Friedrich Engels, too, offered proof of this connection in his early work on the situation of the working class in England.

‘All conceivable evils are heaped upon the heads of the poor. If the inhabitants of nice cities is just too dense basically, it’s they particularly who’re packed into the least area. […] They’re given damp dwellings, cellar dens that aren’t waterproof from under, or garrets that leak from above. Their homes are so constructed that the clammy air can’t escape. They’re equipped unhealthy, tattered, or rotten clothes, adulterated and indigestible meals. […] And, in the event that they surmount all this, they fall sufferer to need of labor in a disaster when all of the little is taken from them that had hitherto been vouchsafed them.

How is it potential, underneath such situations, for the decrease class to be wholesome and lengthy lived? What else could be anticipated than extreme mortality, an unbroken collection of epidemics, a progressive deterioration within the physique of the working inhabitants?’

– Friedrich Engels, one of many founders of scientific socialism, 1845

Beneath capitalism, well being protections should be fought for in a relentless wrestle towards financial pursuits. Public well being insurance policies are primarily decided by the personal sector and are more and more being reshaped by market forces. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically revealed the intense deficiencies and unsolved challenges of well being care methods in the present day. Many states lack clear, scientifically grounded decision-making constructions. Solidarity-driven cooperation inside and between states is blocked above all by personal financial pursuits. Deaths are shamelessly weighed towards financial losses by political and enterprise leaders. All through the world, the residing and dealing situations of the bottom earners make them probably the most weak to the pandemic. In lots of circumstances, they’re denied entry to vaccines and medicines. The safety of personal patent rights is prioritised over complete take care of the folks. The populations of the International South are left nearly fully empty-handed.

The general efficacy of well being care methods within the International North is touted as a sign of their superiority, but their potential will not be totally exploited, neither is their efficacy due solely to financial power or optimistic medical traditions. As a substitute, it’s the decades-long wrestle of commerce unions and different democratic forces that has established minimal requirements and fundamental care. The identical forces have thereafter been compelled to defend these beneficial properties from the fixed pressures of the personal sector. Additional, the well being care methods of wealthier states are bolstered by medical personnel who’ve been lured away from economically weaker international locations. This – coupled with the continued exploitation of the International South – additional exacerbates unequal growth between the North and South. In the present day, the personal capitalist sector is consolidating its grip on well being care methods, notably in Western economies, main well being and sickness to change into more and more commodified and subordinated to profit-driven motives.

‘Well being care, as a substitute of being an accountable system, has grown right into a hodgepodge of company fiefdoms whose central intention is to maximise profitability for enterprise capital traders. A profit-oriented well being care system requires the doctor to behave as a sort of gatekeeper, deciding whether or not to grant or deny well being care. A profit-oriented well being care system is an oxymoron, a contradiction in phrases. As quickly as care serves revenue, it’s not true care’.

– Professor Bernard Lown (1921–2021), an American heart specialist and a co-founder of the Worldwide Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear Struggle (IPPNW)

Since 1991, the proportion of personal hospitals and beds in Germany has elevated tremendously, persevering with a pattern of the rising commercialisation of inpatient care which started within the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, generally known as West Germany) within the mid-Nineteen Eighties. This growth gained extra momentum in 2003 with the introduction of the US-inspired billing system primarily based on diagnosis-related teams. Beneath this technique, hospital circumstances are labeled into totally different teams to determine the ‘merchandise’ that sufferers obtain and to find out cost. As such, choices relating to the remedy and size of hospital stays are more and more made on the idea of what could be billed profitably relatively than on the idea of medical standards. The standard of well being care is thus being eroded, as remedy turns into ever extra depending on affected person earnings and public well being companies are slashed.

The antagonism between private-sector pursuits and complete well being take care of all members of society had already been recognised within the early days of the German Democratic Republic (generally known as East Germany). All through its 40-year existence, the DDR was in a position to assemble and advance a basically totally different well being care system. From an preliminary place of nice financial drawback, the DDR got here to be ranked among the many 20 largest industrialised international locations when it comes to financial manufacturing and residing requirements by the tip of the Nineteen Eighties. The well-being of its 16 million inhabitants was mirrored by beneficial, even main values in line with sure World Well being Organisation measures such because the physician-to-population ratio, toddler mortality, and the discount of tuberculosis. This was regardless of the suboptimal structural situation of many well being services, the shortage of medical provides, and restrictions on the import of drugs and know-how – a lot of which was the results of financial sanctions imposed by the West.



Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Federal Republic of Germany]. Gesundheitsbericht für Deutschland [Germany’s Health Report]. Bonn: Statistisches Bundesamt, 1998; Deutsche Demokratische Republik [German Democratic Republic]. Statistische Jahrbücher der DDR [Statistical Yearbooks of the DDR]. Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR, 1956–1991; World Financial institution Open Knowledge. ‘Mortality price, toddler (per 1,000 dwell births)’. The World Financial institution Group. Accessed 1 November 2022. https://information.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN?finish=2019&places=GB-US-SE-FR&begin=1960&view=chart.


The DDR was in a position to obtain vital advances in well being care each because of the affect of progressive traditions handed down from the 19th century and the Weimar Republic (1918–1933) and resulting from a radical transformation of the financial and political situations within the DDR. This transformation enabled the younger state to reorient the targets and construction of well being care round social rules whereas additionally creating new socialist relations in and out of doors of the office that improved the inhabitants’s well being.

This research assesses the DDR’s well being care system and traces a number of of its central parts, analyzing the importance of the DDR’s socialist character within the development of a well being care system primarily based totally on preventive rules. This endeavour didn’t proceed with out its difficulties and contradictions, and the insights gained from this strategy of constructing an efficient, accessible well being care system throughout the context of restricted financial sources can function a reference for struggles worldwide. The title, Socialism Is the Greatest Prophylaxis, pays tribute to a well known quote of Maxim Zetkin (1883–1965), a doctor, politician, and son of the worldwide ladies’s rights activist and communist Clara Zetkin (1857–1933), that grew to become a slogan within the DDR. In step with the main target of the DDR’s well being care system, this slogan refers back to the medical strategy generally known as prophylaxis that seeks to stop illness earlier than it manifests.



Deutsche Demokratische Republik [German Democratic Republic]. Statistische Jahrbücher der DDR [The DDR’s Statistical Yearbooks]. Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR, 1956–1991.


2. Historic Circumstances within the Years Previous the DDR

Devastating social and well being situations for the city proletariat arose towards the background of industrialisation within the German Empire (1871–1918). After years of campaigning, revolutionary social democracy succeeded in introducing social medical insurance in 1883. Whereas then German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck is remembered because the founding father of state-organised social insurance coverage, it was in reality the struggles of the working class that demanded and gained concessions from the federal government. Bismarck by no means made a secret of the truth that he sought to push again the political affect of the socialist labour motion. Throughout a session of the Reichstag, he remarked, ‘With out social democracy and with out the worry that it generates in an excellent many individuals, we’d not have made the modest social reforms that we needed to grant in the present day’. The introduction of this medical insurance system helped to partially cowl the price of remedy, however inadequacies remained as working situations had not improved and the employees needed to pay two-thirds of the premiums. In consequence, self-organised well being care organisations such because the Staff’ Samaritan Federation (ASB) and the Proletarian Well being Service (PGD) emerged, complementing the work of the Social Democratic Social gathering of Germany (SPD) and the Communist Social gathering of Germany (KPD) respectively throughout the Weimar Republic. These organisations emphatically demanded the additional enlargement of public well being care.


Picture 1. The Proletarian Well being Service (PGD) was a self-organised well being service that operated from 1921 to 1926. It was explicitly political and continued the custom of public well being by, for example, supporting the diet of schoolchildren and the labour struggles to take care of the eight-hour day, particularly within the mining business and chemical factories. It additional advocated for the socialisation of well being care and organised concrete, sensible help by offering well being care coaching and schooling, accident prevention, and first assist. The PGD additionally labored carefully with the employees’ sports activities motion to advertise health.


After German fascism got here to energy in 1933, the Nazis started misusing drugs to implement their racist and anti-Semitic ideology towards folks whom they alleged have been inferior, committing crimes towards humanity on an unprecedented scale. Following the unconditional defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, a catastrophic well being disaster hit the German inhabitants. The prevalence of epidemics, illnesses, and accidents revealed how wars proceed to provide many casualties lengthy after the tip of navy fight. Hospitals, sanatoriums, and the whole well being care system had been destroyed in what then grew to become the Soviet Occupation Zone (SOZ). The availability of medicines collapsed, and epidemics unfold uncontrollably, intensified by a big inflow of refugees and resettled folks arriving from Jap Europe. Deaths from tuberculosis on this interval have been twice as excessive as they’d been previous to the conflict. Typhus, cholera, dysentery, venereal infections, and childhood illnesses ravaged the inhabitants. The variety of docs halved in comparison with pre-war ranges, and the coaching of latest physicians was interrupted by the closure of universities.

From the defeat of the Nazi regime in 1945 to the founding of the DDR in 1949, the well being insurance policies of the SOZ have been formed primarily based on 30 orders issued by the Soviet Navy Administration (SMAD), which ruled the SOZ from the tip of the Second World Struggle till the DDR was established in 1949. The insurance policies have been then applied by the German Financial Fee (the central German administrative physique within the SOZ) together with the newly created Central Administration for Well being Care and the 5 regional governments in Jap Germany. A right away query confronting the SMAD was take care of the docs and different well being professionals who had supported the fascist system. Roughly 45 per cent of physicians had been Nazi Social gathering members, a lot of them concerned in euthanasia and the opposite atrocities that happened in focus camps. Many of those people fled the SOZ, understanding that they’d be handled extra leniently within the West. The docs who stayed posed a politically and morally tough dilemma: enacting a blanket dismissal of well being professionals – as had been carried out amongst judges and academics for good cause – was out of the query, if solely due to the well being disaster dealing with the nation. In consequence, docs who had not been discovered responsible of any crimes have been allowed to proceed their work, and lots of of them later made themselves totally obtainable to the brand new well being system.

Examples of Soviet Navy Administration well being coverage orders:

• 1945: Establishing the Central Well being Administration and the Well being Workplaces (Order No. 17).

• 1946: Repealing the racist legal guidelines and different Nazi authorized provisions (No. 6) and passing an order to fight tuberculosis (No. 297).

• 1947: Introducing a uniform system of social insurance coverage (No. 28); establishing a office well being system (No. 234); and ordering the institution of outpatient centres and polyclinics (No. 272).

• Different orders have been involved with controlling particular person infectious illnesses and establishing medical and scientific establishments.

Most of the docs and well being employees who have been entrusted with administrative positions within the SOZ’s normal administration have been those that had been engaged in resistance or had emigrated or been imprisoned underneath the Nazi regime. Their rapid duties have been dictated by the selections of the Allied powers within the Potsdam Settlement of 1945 and the newly legalised political events within the SOZ. The Socialist Unity Social gathering of Germany (SED) shaped in 1946, unifying the 2 working class events – the Communist Social gathering of Germany (KPD) and the Social Democratic Social gathering of Germany (SPD) – right into a single celebration within the SOZ and recognised the necessity for brand spanking new well being constructions, particularly in outpatient care. When drafting social and well being coverage programmes for a brand new, democratic Germany, the authorities within the SOZ drew on the progressive calls for and experiences of the Weimar Republic interval.

‘Because the full growth of the well being service will solely be assured in a socialist society, there’s nonetheless a method for democratic Germany as properly. […] That is the nationalisation of the well being service. Solely on this method can physicians, having fun with economically safe positions in addition to sources assured by the state, dedicate themselves fully to their duties. Solely on this method can the achievements of medical science be made obtainable to the whole inhabitants. […] The preservation of the well being and the productive capability of working folks is without doubt one of the nation’s most vital duties and a prerequisite for reconstruction. […] Therefore, well being safety should be made a matter for the state and thus for the folks as an entire. The intention should be one in every of securing for everybody the safety of his or her well being as the idea of vitality and bodily health’.

– Well being coverage tips of the Socialist Unity Social gathering of Germany (SED), March 1947

The duty was now to determine a functioning well being care system. This required nationalising well being care establishments and guaranteeing the proper to well being care. Free medical remedy was offered by means of a common well being care system, and the safety of well being was understood as a activity for all sectors of society. Separating folks’s medical wants from the personal pursuits of capital was a decisive, central thought in offering well being take care of all; it was recognised that enterprise concerns, notably relating to freelance docs working in personal practices, ran counter to the progressive growth of drugs. This commentary had already been put forth by the League of Nations, a world affiliation of states based after the First World Struggle and the forerunner of the United Nations.

The DDR’s rising well being care system was formed by the experiences of the Soviet Union and its well being system, the architects of which had themselves been impressed by the coverage positions of the German Left throughout the Weimar interval (1918–33). After the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Civil Struggle (1917–22), the younger Soviet Union grew to become the primary state in world historical past to construct a well being care system that assured free, common well being care to the whole inhabitants, enshrining the proper to free medical care within the Soviet Structure of 1936 as one of many basic rights of the Soviet folks. Beneath the mannequin launched by Nikolai Semashko (the Individuals’s Commissar for Well being from 1918–30), medical services and companies have been fully state funded and centrally managed, and a multilevel system of hospitals, specialty clinics, and sanatoria operated on the nationwide, regional, metropolis, and district ranges. Whereas elements of the Soviet mannequin influenced the transformation of the well being care system within the SOZ, it was not merely replicated. Among the methods wherein the DDR’s system differed, for instance, have been the diploma of central organisation and the truth that it was not financed solely by the state.


3. The DDR’s Complete Strategy to Well being Care

‘Well being coverage within the DDR was understood as a totality of ideological, cultural, financial, social, and medical measures conceived of and practiced with various depth and high quality throughout the public sphere. The intention was to assist form and optimise the environmental situations of peoples’ lives in a method that each protects and fosters their well being. Sufferers have been to be handled and cared for utilizing the data and expertise of recent drugs. Life was to be steadily and progressively prolonged’.

– Ludwig Mecklinger, the DDR’s minister of well being from 1971 to 1989

The creation of socialist property relations was a vital precondition for the DDR’s preventive strategy to well being care. Well being-related issues similar to working situations, housing, diet, and schooling might subsequently be managed by the state and its democratic decision-making constructions. The great planning of publicly owned establishments made it potential to research and sort out on a regular basis well being dangers. On this endeavour, the DDR constructed upon the traditions of social drugs, which approached well being from a socio-political perspective and targeted on the interplay between folks’s welfare and their general residing and dealing situations. Particularly, the give attention to preventive care within the office and for kids, together with a contemporary idea of outpatient care, demonstrated the built-in and holistic character of the DDR’s well being insurance policies.


Picture 2. A district well being inspector measures sound frequencies in a residential space to be able to develop strategies for lowering noise air pollution. The medical fields of social, occupational, and communal well being have been liable for monitoring and safeguarding the well being requirements of the inhabitants’s working and residing situations.


By organising well being care establishments as state-owned entities, the DDR overcame the separation discovered in lots of capitalist international locations in the present day between publicly funded well being companies and the big, privately organised sector of outpatient and hospital care. The elimination of personal types of possession enabled the mixing of preventive, therapeutic, and aftercare measures that yielded higher outcomes for sufferers. Moreover, the nation’s quite a few and numerous medical establishments – from hospitals and clinics to pharmacies and analysis centres – might now cooperate with each other as a part of a unified community led by the Ministry of Well being.



How the DDR’s well being care system was organised on the nationwide degree. Supply: Niemann, Heinrich (former specialist in social drugs within the DDR and district councillor for well being in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Berlin). In dialogue with the authors. 2 June 2021. IF DDR workplace, Berlin.


The hospital community within the DDR was steadily expanded to enhance accessibility for residents all through the nation. The tiered system, made up of the communal, municipal, and regional administrative divisions, sought to supply fundamental care in municipal hospitals, whereas specialised remedy can be administered in regional hospitals or nationwide establishments and universities. Previous to the Second World Struggle, church buildings performed a big function in sustaining and working hospitals all through Germany. Reasonably than dismantling these constructions, the DDR labored with the clergy to make sure that emergency well being care can be obtainable in all areas of the nation. Thus, of the 539 hospitals in East Germany in 1989, 75 remained underneath the jurisdiction of church buildings, although they too have been built-in into the state’s planning system.

The DDR additionally sought to beat the traditionally uneven distribution of docs throughout rural and concrete areas. After commencement, each doctor obtained each their licence to observe and safe paid employment and was required to work for a number of years in an space the place docs have been notably scarce primarily based on a dedication made at first of their research. This coverage, known as the steering of graduates (Absolventenlenkung), was the DDR’s answer to a major problem that also besets many international locations in the present day.

‘There got here a degree once we have been instructed: “ You may have dedicated your self to serve the place society wants you”. Many who studied in Berlin then tried all the things potential to remain in Berlin to keep away from going to Cottbus or Bitterfeld, for instance, into the brown coal district, into the grime. I stated to myself: “Effectively, these are individuals who have a proper to enough medical care. They shouldn’t be deserted there, so I’ll do it”. For me, it was fulfilling a promise that I had made in return for having the ability to research freed from cost. We even obtained a scholarship that allowed us to check with out monetary difficulties. Such an obligation doesn’t contradict my understanding of equity in any method, even in the present day. It was completely acceptable to me’.

– Dr. Rüdiger Feltz, a training neurosurgeon

To finance its well being care system, the DDR launched a broad social safety scheme that coated well being, accident, and pension insurance coverage and was managed by the employees themselves by means of the Free German Commerce Union Federation. This built-in, state-organised mannequin changed the fragmented and profit-oriented insurance coverage methods that also function in lots of capitalist international locations in the present day. People within the DDR paid as much as 10 per cent of their month-to-month wages to the scheme, although contributions have been capped at 60 Marks per thirty days for employees. Enterprises then matched the contributions of their workers, and extra state subsidies coated any shortfalls.

The political weight given to well being care within the DDR can also be illustrated by the nation’s in depth laws on this difficulty. The common proper to well being care no matter one’s social state of affairs (which had already been anchored within the DDR’s first structure in 1949) was enshrined within the two subsequent constitutions of 1968 and 1974. The DDR thereby realised Article 25 of the UN Common Declaration of Human Rights, which states that each human being has ‘the proper to a lifestyle enough for well being and well-being […] together with meals, clothes, housing, medical care, and crucial social companies and the proper to safety within the occasion of unemployment, illness, incapacity, widowhood, outdated age, or different lack of livelihood in circumstances past his management’.

Article 35 of the DDR’s 1968 Structure:

(1) Each citizen of the German Democratic Republic shall have the proper to the safety of his or her well being and labour energy.
(2) This proper shall be assured by means of the deliberate enchancment of working and residing situations; the fostering of public well being; the implementation of complete welfare insurance policies; and the promotion of bodily exercise, college and fashionable sports activities, and tourism.
(3) Within the occasion of sickness or accident, the lack of earnings and the prices of medical care, medicines, and different medical companies shall be offered by means of a social insurance coverage system.

The DDR assured not solely fundamental health-related rights and duties within the sphere of medical care, but in addition within the spheres of labor and schooling. Equal rights for girls in addition to well being safety for kids, youth, and the aged have been additionally codified. This included internationally recommended laws that decriminalised gay acts in 1968 (although they’d already been exempt from authorized prosecution for the reason that Fifties) and legalised abortion in 1972. Different vital statutes included the introduction of state legal responsibility for well being damages attributable to medical procedures (1987) and the ‘dissent answer’ for organ transplants (1975), which established a presumed consent mannequin for organ donation that required people to decide out.



Niemann, Heinrich (former specialist in social drugs within the DDR and district councillor for well being in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Berlin). In dialogue with the authors. 2 June 2021. IF DDR workplace, Berlin.


The DDR’s well being care system was a extremely advanced sector that was step by step and systematically developed over the course of 4 many years, using almost 600,000 folks – roughly 7 per cent of the whole workforce – by 1989. Along with hospitals and outpatient clinics, this sector included medical instructing and analysis services; specialist institutes; emergency companies; scientific societies; medical publishers and journals; well being schooling services; and, final however not least, an in depth pharmaceutical business. With 13 enterprises, three analysis institutes, and roughly 15,000 workers, the Kombinat GERMED – that means ‘mix’, a type of socialist company – produced some 1,300 totally different medical merchandise, assembly 80–90 per cent of the DDR’s pharmaceutical wants whereas additionally exporting medical merchandise to the Soviet Union and different socialist international locations. The home demand for medicines was communicated to suppliers not by means of market forces however by means of the calculations of district pharmacists. Pharmacists, like physicians, have been free from profit-oriented concerns of their work, and medicines have been offered freed from cost to all residents. Shut collaboration between pharmacists and physicians enabled them to tailor affected person care and modify drugs if provide shortages occurred.


Picture 3. In 1950, there have been 1,694 pharmacies within the DDR, of which 1,266 have been privately owned. By 1989, there have been 24 personal pharmacies and a couple of,002 public pharmacies managed by the Ministry of Well being. Every of the DDR’s 15 areas was overseen by a head physician and head pharmacist. On the district degree, native pharmacists have been liable for monitoring the distribution of drugs in line with unified requirements.


4. Contradictions and Challenges

The event of the DDR’s well being care system was not free from conflicts and challenges. Contradictions between the nation’s well being care targets and its financial capability meant that acknowledged objectives and aspirations couldn’t at all times be achieved. Well being insurance policies mirrored each the financial difficulties dealing with the nation and shifts in political priorities. For instance, when the Unity of Financial and Social Coverage was launched in 1971 to extend entry to shopper items and companies, the well being sector initially benefited from additional funding. But this shift in funding coverage away from the commercial sector created imbalances within the deliberate economic system that have been in the end felt within the well being sector, too. This was obvious, for example, within the put on and tear on hospitals and the shortage of sure medical provides and gear, which made well being employees’ day after day duties tougher. In its last years, the DDR was not in a position to import fashionable medical know-how developed in Western industrialised international locations to the extent wanted, partially because of the embargo imposed by the West. Whereas progressive diagnostic and therapeutic strategies enabled the DDR to make progress towards sure illnesses that had beforehand confirmed tough or unattainable to deal with by standard strategies, these efforts have been typically hampered by an absence of apparatus.

Within the Nineteen Eighties, bottlenecks within the provide of supplies in addition to differing views on sort out pressing well being points led to intensified coverage debates. The preventive strategy to care and the conviction that every one social sectors had a task to play in public well being remained decisive underpinnings of presidency insurance policies. But, disputes arose across the query of which disease-causing situations might and must be prioritised. As an illustration, at instances there was an emphasis positioned on measures that sought to alter unhealthy behaviours to be able to fight issues similar to weight problems, alcohol abuse, and a rise in smoking amongst the youth. This strategy of specializing in particular person behaviours that contribute to well being points was criticised by social drugs specialists, who as a substitute targeted on enhancing the inhabitants’s general residing and dealing situations. Such debates reveal that on a regular basis difficulties and strategic questions have been open to political dialogue, which regularly happened in bimonthly regional physicians’ conferences and biannual municipal physicians’ conferences, amongst different venues.

The West’s hostility in the direction of the DDR affected the event of its well being system in some ways, exerting an ideological, political, and financial affect on the DDR’s well being employees and constructions. This had a very notable influence on the nation’s entry to medical and technical materials in addition to worldwide analysis initiatives. As well as, West Germany actively poached East German docs by encouraging them emigrate westward. Physicians who had loved cost-free schooling and coaching within the DDR have been interested in the West by higher pay or by their reluctance to take part within the social transformations underway within the East. This dynamic impacted the DDR from the outset: the exodus of docs following the Second World Struggle was so huge that it could have required at the least 5 extra graduating courses of all DDR medical faculties to compensate for the loss. This was much like the state of affairs in Cuba, the place – other than docs like Che Guevara who dedicated themselves to the revolution – many docs left the island for the USA after 1959. This phenomenon of ‘mind drain’ – wherein physicians and different extremely educated or expert professionals to migrate from these international locations the place they’re most wanted – and its penalties for the International South are usually disregarded or bought as a optimistic side of globalisation.

Till the border between East and West Germany was closed in 1961, the DDR was additionally pursuing its pioneering well being programme in ‘competitors’ with the FRG, which preserved the personal observe mannequin and intentionally used excessive salaries and privileges to incentivise well-trained docs to go away East Germany. The DDR was thus confronted with the identical problem that confronted the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution: how might the specialised professionals and intelligentsia, who had been privileged underneath capitalism, be gained over to the development of socialism? Given the excessive ranges of emigration, the SED determined to make concessions to the medical intelligentsia within the late Fifties, utilising materials incentives to encourage docs to work and dwell within the DDR. Regardless of these challenges, additional shifts away from personal practices to public employment prevailed within the following years. Though a number of thousand docs left the DDR earlier than the Wall was in-built 1961, by 1988 the variety of physicians within the nation (round 41,000) had greater than tripled since 1949, placing the DDR’s physician-to-population ratio on par with the opposite industrialised states in Europe.



Deutsche Demokratische Republik [German Democratic Republic]. Statistische Jahrbücher der DDR [Statistical Yearbooks of the DDR]. Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR, 1956–1991; Rahlf, Thomas, ed. Deutschland in Daten [Germany in Data]. Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2015; World Financial institution Open Knowledge. ‘Physicians (per 1,000 folks)’. The World Financial institution Group. Accessed 1 November 2022. https://information.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.MED.PHYS.ZS?places=US-FR-SE-GB.


Because the experiences of the DDR and different socialist states have revealed, the societal transition past capitalism is rarely a easy linear growth. Setting up a complete and people-oriented well being care system can’t occur in a single day. Radical transformations should contend not solely with a rustic’s financial limitations, but in addition with conventional conceptions of social roles and standing. The size of the mind drain from the DDR, for example, led the federal government to make sure compromises in its mission to interrupt the intelligentsia’s long-held monopoly of the medical career. When drawing classes for the longer term, we can’t isolate such compromises and shortcomings from their historic context. That’s what differentiates constructive and progressive analyses from those who merely search to smear and deride socialism.


5. The Polyclinic: A Trendy Strategy to Outpatient Care


5.1 From Non-public Apply to Polyclinics

Beneath the capitalist mannequin of well being care, outpatient care is often offered by unbiased docs in particular person personal practices which might be scattered all through cities and cities. Progressive medical traditions have, nonetheless, lengthy criticised this mannequin as having two vital limitations. Firstly, self-employed docs are economically depending on sick sufferers in search of out remedy. That’s, they’re financially incentivised to not stop illness however to deal with signs after they manifest. Secondly, the fast advance of science has tremendously improved medical diagnostics and remedy capabilities, however these new strategies require entry to the newest know-how and experience. Since particular person practices can’t home the various gear and employees demanded by fashionable drugs, sufferers are referred to separate specialists or diagnostic centres, typically creating inefficiencies and discrepancies in diagnoses. Within the DDR, polyclinics have been developed to beat these points in outpatient care.

Because the title implies, polyclinics have been services wherein a number of medical specialties collaborated underneath one roof to stop and deal with all kinds of illnesses. Extra particularly, polyclinics have been outlined as publicly owned outpatient services containing at the least the next six specialist departments: inner drugs, oral drugs, gynaecology, surgical procedure, paediatrics, and normal drugs. Many polyclinics additionally housed scientific diagnostic laboratories, physiotherapy departments, and medical imaging services. As well as, polyclinics embodied the conviction that, to be efficient, outpatient medical care needed to be severed from private financial concerns. Physicians and employees working in polyclinics have been publicly employed and thus free of their conventional financial dependencies on the sick. With a secured place and an affordable earnings, docs might focus in the beginning on preventive care.

It was once more the transition away from personal possession that enabled this basic reorientation of the outpatient sector, which performs an vital if not decisive function within the capability of a well being care system to serve the whole inhabitants. Efficient outpatient care ensures that the medical assist folks want is instantly and quickly obtainable the place they dwell, from prevention and remedy to aftercare and rehabilitation, which helps to minimise inpatient stays in hospitals and ideally prevents sickness within the first place. The clustering of medical departments, know-how, and laboratories underneath one roof helped to beat bureaucratic and monetary obstacles that plagued personal practices. On the identical time, this design facilitated more practical collaboration between medical professionals from totally different fields.

‘Doesn’t […] the true freedom of the doctor consist in the truth that they’re given the means to safe the well being of every particular person citizen with out limitation? By build up the state well being system, physicians are not economically enthusiastic about folks falling sick; they will as a substitute genuinely act because the guardians and preservers of well being’.

–Speech on the Nationwide Well being Convention in Weimar, 1960

Smaller establishments embodying the identical strategy because the polyclinic have been known as outpatient centres (Ambulatorien) and sometimes housed at the least three totally different departments: normal drugs, inner drugs, and paediatrics. Greater than a 3rd of the outpatient services have been affiliated with hospitals and college clinics to advertise medical collaboration. Session centres and state-owned particular person practices operated in additional distant places however have been organisationally linked to polyclinics for help.

Remodeling the outpatient sector offered distinctive challenges each when it comes to infrastructural necessities and the brand new roles of well being care employees, not like the hospital system, which had an extended historical past of public possession. There was, for example, appreciable scepticism and even resistance to the thought of polyclinics amongst physicians. The novel thought of publicly using medical specialists to work collectively underneath one roof sharply contrasted with the deeply rooted self-perception of the ‘freelance’ physician who works for him or herself.

A number of forerunners of huge medical complexes served as inspiration to the DDR’s polyclinic system, such because the Home of Well being in Berlin, constructed in 1923 throughout the Weimar Republic. Architects of the DDR’s Bauakademie (Academy of Civil Engineering) started to develop and refine related tasks within the Fifties underneath the management of then President Kurt Liebknecht. When the DDR’s immense housing development programme was introduced within the early Seventies, it specified that polyclinics or outpatient centres have been to be included into the brand new estates. Bigger polyclinics have been in-built Berlin in addition to in different huge cities, every staffed with upwards of fifty docs.

Conservative physicians’ associations had already begun systematically opposing calls to determine polyclinics throughout the Weimar period, and so they resumed this offensive after the tip of the conflict in 1945. The DDR’s policymakers sought to display some great benefits of the brand new mannequin by increasing the technical capabilities and laboratories in polyclinics. This was a gradual course of; for a few years, personal practices continued to supply a big portion of outpatient care.



Deutsche Demokratische Republik [German Democratic Republic]. Statistische Jahrbücher der DDR [Statistical Yearbooks of the DDR]. Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR, 1956–1991.


It in the end proved potential to step by step win over medical professionals to the idea of the polyclinic: by 1970, solely 18 per cent of outpatient physicians have been in personal observe, in comparison with properly over 50 per cent in 1955. The fast development of environment friendly outpatient services all through the nation made the numerous sensible benefits of the brand new system evident. The distinction between outpatient well being care in East and West Germany step by step widened over the 4 many years following the founding of the DDR: by 1989, the overwhelming majority of West German outpatient docs have been nonetheless working in personal practices, whereas nearly all of their East German counterparts have been publicly employed by that point.


5.2 The Operation of Polyclinics

Physicians and employees working in polyclinics have been employed and remunerated by the state, eradicating private financial motives from the doctor-patient relationship and the medical decision-making course of. In distinction to non-public practices, polyclinics established unbureaucratic cooperation between particular person specialties. Beneath capitalist well being care methods, self-employed outpatient physicians have usually been (and sometimes nonetheless are) solely liable for medical choices, whereas the collaborative constructions in polyclinics made it simpler for specialists throughout totally different disciplines to debate difficult circumstances or, for example, the prescription of latest drugs and proposals for brand spanking new sorts of remedy. This interdisciplinary collaboration additionally offered a framework wherein the connection and communication between preventive, therapeutic, and aftercare measures might be strengthened and introduced nearer collectively. Laboratory and medical imaging companies might be requested instantly and have been often obtainable inside a short while and even throughout the session itself. Polyclinics have been additionally in a position to home superior medical gear, primarily as a result of widespread utilization was less expensive than particular person use in personal practices, and a uniform submitting system for affected person information was maintained to cut back inefficiency and miscommunication between specialists.

On common, polyclinics staffed 18 to 19 physicians, which allowed them to increase hours of operation and proceed to supply care even when particular person docs have been sick or on vacation, not like in personal practices. As well as, this allowed physicians to supply extra in depth care to their sufferers, as they might couple their regular session hours with on-site visits. Paediatricians, for example, have been in a position to conduct common check-ups in childcare centres whereas different docs took cost of walk-in consultations in polyclinics.

‘The truth that a physician at all times has to fret about safe their earnings and relies on sick folks coming to them can’t be the answer. One other answer should be discovered. Particularly, to grasp docs as well-paid workers of the state who can conduct their duties independently of their earnings. That was one of many fundamental concepts within the DDR. A second was that the fashionable growth of science not corresponds to the mannequin of personal observe. I would like constructions the place I can entry the laboratory, X-ray machines, and specialists. These two fundamental concepts led to the gradual creation of polyclinics, or outpatient centres. It was an extended course of, and one which confronted resistance’.

–Dr. Heinrich Niemann, a specialist in social drugs and former policymaker

The brand new mannequin of employment in outpatient care tremendously improved the collegial environment within the well being sector. Employees have been assured fastened working hours, in-house well being care, communally organised meals, and joint vacation services for themselves and their households. Importantly, physicians, assistants, and nurses have been all employed as employees members; they have been handled equally in accordance with labour legal guidelines and have been organised throughout the identical commerce union. These measures step by step helped erode skilled hierarchies.


Picture 4. Dr. Heinrich Niemann remembers: ‘At the start of the Nineteen Eighties, the big Dr. Karl Kollwitz Polyclinic was constructed within the working-class district of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin. The docs who had already been working there in personal practices didn’t go into polyclinics with flying colors. In fact, they knew that the second they labored in such a big facility, a unique mode of operation, a brand new method of working collectively can be crucial. […] But, that is the one method {that a} unity could be established between therapeutic, rehabilitative, and preventive measures. Nonetheless in the present day, a non-public observe can solely obtain this to a restricted extent’.


5.3 An Overview of the Outpatient Sector

Outpatient care was a central part of the DDR’s preventive strategy to drugs, and its enlargement and success in guaranteeing that all residents obtained medical protection not solely throughout emergencies however all through the course of their lives arguably represents probably the most revolutionary side of the nation’s well being care system. With the intention to obtain this, an unlimited community of infrastructure was developed in neighbourhoods, workplaces, childcare centres, and rural places. By way of public possession and the deliberate nature of the economic system, it grew to become potential to form residing and dealing situations round well being concerns.



Deutsche Demokratische Republik [German Democratic Republic]. Statistische Jahrbücher der DDR [The DDR’s Statistical Yearbooks]. Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR, 1956–1991.


By 1989, this community was made up of 13,690 outpatient services, 626 of which have been polyclinics. Roughly one in 4 of those polyclinics operated inside industrial enterprises, utilizing the office as a website to supply constant, high quality, and accessible healthcare to the labour pressure. Of the virtually 19,000 docs working within the outpatient sector by 1980, 60 per cent have been employed in polyclinics, 18.5 per cent within the smaller outpatient centres, and simply 11 per cent in particular person medical practices.


Picture 5. Neighborhood nursing was a extremely expert and valued career. The nurses have been properly acquainted with the residents of their area and carried out vital medical companies throughout home visits similar to finishing up examinations, dressing wounds, administering medicines and injections, and arranging for a physician’s help when crucial.


With the intention to prolong preventive care to rural areas and scattered villages, rural outpatient centres have been constructed and staffed with as much as three docs, with the variety of these services rising from 250 in 1953 to 433 by 1989. In lots of cities, physicians labored in public medical practices or quickly staffed subject workplaces to supply residents with session hours and residential visits, whereas cell dental clinics visited distant villages to supply all youngsters with preventive care. As well as, the career of the group nurse was developed within the early Fifties to alleviate the preliminary scarcity of docs within the countryside, with the variety of group nurses increasing from 3,571 in 1953 to five,585 by 1989. This in depth rural infrastructure helped to supply much less densely populated areas with medical companies corresponding to what was obtainable in city areas.

‘There was no separation between care work and social work in group nursing, so it was a totally logical growth for the nurses that social companies grew to become a part of the well being sector in 1958. […] In villages the place there was no physician, the group nurse was liable for all the things associated to well being, social, and hygiene issues. Some grew to become members of the native council, and some grew to become deputy mayors’.

–Dr. Horst Rocholl, a former municipal doctor

The DDR’s revolution in outpatient care went past the development of infrastructure. Complete reform was additionally carried out within the academic system to interrupt down conventional obstacles and hierarchies within the subject. This included, amongst different measures:

      • Offering tuition-free schooling and stuck stipends to cowl college students’ residing prices and be sure that drugs grew to become accessible to the working class and peasantry.
      • Implementing socio-political measures similar to complete childcare and distance schooling programmes to make medical professions extra accessible to ladies, who, from the late Seventies onwards, typically made up greater than 50 per cent of medical college students within the nation.
      • Turning nursing and caretaking into extremely certified and revered professions by means of intensive tutorial coaching programmes.
      • Making increased schooling in medical specialties obtainable to all physicians.

Nonetheless, after 1990, the FRG’s personal observe mannequin was rigorously imposed on East Germany, undoing the DDR’s achievements within the outpatient sector. Whereas many East German professionals have been stripped of their credentials after the DDR was included into the FRG, nobody dared to significantly query the {qualifications} of East German well being professionals: in circumstances the place they have been barred from training, the motive was nearly at all times political. Moreover, the liquidation of the polyclinic system represented ‘the best blunder in well being coverage’ after unification, as Dr. Heinrich Niemann argued earlier than the Well being Committee of the German Parliament in 1991 – an evaluation corroborated by the precarious state of the well being system in Germany in the present day. Whereas the FRG made it potential within the late Nineteen Nineties for outpatient docs to work as workers relatively than freelancers, these clinics are nearly solely underneath personal possession and lack a unified construction, and their industrial orientation marks a big regression from the built-in and publicly funded outpatient services of the DDR.


6. Defending Well being within the Office

In East Germany, employees’ well being was given nice significance from the very starting. In 1947, throughout the interval wherein Germany was nonetheless occupied by the 4 Allied powers, the Soviet Navy Administration issued Order No. 234, which stipulated that workplaces with greater than 200 workers have been to arrange medical stations, whereas these with greater than 5,000 workers have been to determine enterprise polyclinics. Inside three years, 36 enterprise polyclinics had been arrange, and by 1989, they numbered greater than 150. The enterprises themselves have been liable for sustaining the rooms, furnishings, and working prices of those well being services whereas the state well being system offered and oversaw the medical employees and gear. This level represents a decisive distinction to the occupational well being care that’s provided in some personal firms in the present day: within the DDR, the medical professionals overseeing occupational well being and security have been employed by the general public well being system, not the enterprise inside which they labored. As such, it was the pursuits of the employees, not the employers, that guided their medical choices.

Within the DDR’s first structure in 1949, authorized protections for employees’ well being have been laid out alongside the in depth social insurance coverage system. Within the subsequent constitutions in 1968 and 1974, these protections have been expanded, and their implementation was overseen by the employees themselves: the Free German Commerce Union Federation, current in all enterprises and establishments of the DDR, was tasked with monitoring the enforcement of authorized provisions and reporting on their results. By regulation, the office represented far more than merely a supply of earnings. Enterprises offered the framework wherein workers might pursue cultural and mental pursuits alongside leisure actions. Staff’ brigades have been inspired to attend cultural and sporting occasions, focus on political developments, and go to vacation camps maintained by the enterprises. The DDR’s Labour Code of 1977, for example, contained clauses to guard and promote each the bodily and psychological well being of workers. This laws additional demonstrates that the interests of working folks decided the path of the economic system.

The DDR’s Labour Code of 1977

§ 2 (4) Labour regulation is aimed toward enhancing, in a deliberate method, the working and residing situations of workers within the enterprises: particularly, to increase well being safety; to boost labour energy; to enhance social, well being, mental and cultural programmes; and to extend the employees’ alternatives for significant leisure time and recreation. It ensures working folks materials safety within the case of sickness, incapacity, and outdated age.
§ 17 (1) Enterprises as outlined by this regulation are all state-owned institutions and combines in addition to socialist cooperatives.
§ 74 (3) The enterprise shall systematically scale back hazardous working situations and restrict the quantity of bodily tough and monotonous work.
§ 201 (1) It shall be the obligation of the enterprise to make sure the safety of the well being and labour energy of working folks primarily by organising and sustaining protected working situations which might be free from hardship and conducive to well being and effectivity.
§ 207 Staff who’re to undertake work which is bodily demanding or hazardous to well being shall be medically examined freed from cost earlier than employment and at common intervals in accordance with laws.
§ 293 (1) The supervision of occupational well being in enterprises shall be carried out by the Free German Commerce Union Federation (FDGB) by means of well being and security inspections.

As with the outpatient sector, the system of occupational well being was step by step expanded. By 1989, it coated 7.5 million employees from 21,550 enterprises, or 87.4 per cent of all working folks within the DDR. Establishments particularly devoted to this subject – similar to polyclinics, outpatient centres, and medical stations working inside enterprises – employed some 19,000 well being care professionals. Occupational drugs was additionally established as a significant subject of research, with roughly one out of seven outpatient docs specialising on this subject. The Central Institute for Occupational Drugs employed physicians and scientists to analysis work-related sicknesses and develop preventive measures, and the significance that this sector carried within the DDR is evidenced by the truth that the FRG had solely half as many occupational well being specialists, regardless of the West German labour pressure being thrice bigger than its equal within the East.

In sure professions, workers have been uncovered to hazardous substances and/or notably arduous bodily situations. Well being officers campaigned to cut back the variety of such jobs, and enterprises have been obliged to report on the measures they have been taking to fight dangerous situations. But, in sure sectors of the East German economic system, similar to heavy business, manufacturing processes posed unavoidable threats to employees’ well being. By 1989, roughly 1.69 million employees remained uncovered to dangerous pollution and stresses similar to extreme warmth, noise, or vibrations. To reduce the accidents that usually resulted from such jobs, the DDR offered focused care to uncovered employees. Of the 7.5 million employees monitored underneath the occupational well being system in 1989, roughly 3.34 million obtained care that was tailor-made to the particular situations wherein they labored. For instance, common listening to assessments have been carried out for these working in development, whereas common lung examinations have been carried out for these employed in chemical vegetation. Alongside these measures, specialist occupational well being inspectorates monitored enterprises’ compliance with security requirements and specified limits for dangerous substances or work stresses.


Picture 6. An occupational well being inspection measures noise, temperature, humidity, and lighting situations. In 1981, a strict obligation was positioned on enterprises to report on the situations of high-risk workplaces and to take measures to cut back these dangers. Collectively, these studies created a stable database by means of which affected workers might be monitored, protected, and supplied with focused care. The information was additionally used to exert larger strain on politicians and enterprises to cut back and, if potential, stop the dangerous unintended effects of labor.


The sector of occupational well being was notably vital within the context of the FRG’s commerce embargo, which precipitated the DDR to rely closely on the one power supply available in East Germany: brown coal, a lignite-based substance that emits appreciable air pollution when burned. This financial necessity, alongside shortfalls in technical modernisation in some enterprises, led to particular exemptions being permitted relating to dangerous exposures in some workplaces. Occupational well being and security thus grew to become a contentious subject as officers debated which priorities must be set. Ludwig Mecklinger, the DDR’s minister of well being from 1971 to 1989, recognised this dilemma, stating that well being insurance policies have been inevitably restricted by financial requirements and exterior elements.

Work-related psychological stress was one other key difficulty within the DDR and have become the main target of the sector of occupational psychology. Right here, vital findings have been made by the scholar Winfried Hacker, who targeted his analysis on the psychological regulation of labour exercise within the context of socialist society, the place the larger satisfaction of individuals’s wants requires elevated labour productiveness. In line with Hacker, work must be designed in such a method that not solely maintains employees’ well being, but in addition fosters their psychological growth: work that’s boring and indifferent from employees’ lived realities will result in alienation, whereas a wholesome relationship with work should be multi-dimensional and permit employees to develop each themselves and the merchandise of their labour on the identical time. To discover these concepts, Hacker and his workforce of researchers developed strategies to determine goal traits within the office that positively impacted well being and psychological growth and to measure how they affected subjective perceptions. Though Hacker’s proposals weren’t applied on a big scale, his analysis set the usual in occupational psychology. Hacker’s work differed from the predominant approaches to occupational psychology underneath capitalism, which prioritise rising the effectivity of labor processes relatively than the event of workers’ well being and psychological state.

In the present day, the weakening of commerce union energy and the rise of precarious employment has led to a deterioration in working situations in most capitalist states. Whereas there have been advances within the manufacturing processes themselves, new well being burdens are continuously rising, notably in reference to digital workplaces, together with agriculture and meals industries. As such, the significance of occupational well being has solely elevated, and the experiences of the DDR on this subject stay related not solely from a medical standpoint, but in addition by demonstrating {that a} basically totally different strategy to well being safety within the office is feasible.


7. Well being Take care of Moms and Youngsters

In East Germany, ladies loved entry to first-rate well being care, complete childcare, and assured employment. These social achievements meant that by 1989, the employment price amongst ladies had reached 92 per cent. On the identical time, from the Seventies, East Germany additionally had a better start price than the West largely due the continual enlargement of the nation’s social and well being infrastructure, which enabled ladies to each pursue employment and lift a wholesome household.

The event of this infrastructure was established within the DDR’s laws, which proved to be constantly extra progressive than within the FRG, the place patriarchal legal guidelines mirrored bourgeois familial ideas such because the stay-at-home mom. The DDR’s 1950 Legislation on Mom and Youngster Safety and the Rights of Girls, for example, prescribed an in depth enlargement of day care and well being care services for kids, explicitly supporting single and dealing moms. Whereas in 1956 solely 10 per cent of youngsters attended childcare services, by 1990 almost 80 per cent of eligible youngsters attended a crèche (from the age of 0 to three) and 94 per cent attended kindergartens (from ages of three to six). On the time, these have been a number of the highest charges of childcare protection on the planet. Girls’s committees inside commerce unions have been instrumental in introducing and overseeing new legal guidelines to handle the necessity to stability household and work tasks. One end result, for instance, was the institution of enterprise kindergartens instantly linked to the office. By way of the socialisation of childcare tasks, moms have been in a position to work whereas additionally elevating youngsters and thus develop financial independence from their companions. This was mirrored in East Germany’s divorce price, which remained considerably increased than within the FRG all through the DDR’s 40-year existence. This pattern was dramatically reversed after 1990, when ladies’s employment ranges fell sharply within the former DDR.

Childcare services additionally performed a central function within the well being insurance policies of the DDR. These establishments have been actively monitored by the Ministry of Well being and, within the case of crèches, even positioned instantly underneath its duty relatively than that of the Ministry of Training. This made it potential to create built-in social and well being requirements to additional youngsters’s wellbeing, similar to common paediatric visits to crèches to hold out vaccinations and periodic medical check-ups carried out instantly in kindergartens and faculties, making well being care an integral a part of youngsters’s on a regular basis lives. On this method, sustaining good well being and detecting potential well being points grew to become a social duty that was not left to oldsters alone.

In 1965, the Legislation on the Unified Socialist Training System made well being a central pillar of schooling and laid out qualification necessities for personnel in crèches, kindergartens, and faculties. Youngster psychology and pedagogy have been emphasised in coaching programmes for crèche personnel. Early childhood growth was acutely noticed by educators to evaluate, for example, youngsters’s adaptation to their familial and social surroundings. When crucial, crèche personnel organized for consultations with dad and mom to debate sensible suggestions for on a regular basis care. The Skilled Paediatric Affiliation (Medizinischen Fachgesellschaft für Pädiatrie) additionally convened common interdisciplinary working teams along with childcare personnel to evaluate the state of crèches and kindergartens. These teams drew up coverage proposals and legislative amendments in addition to strategies for pilot tasks.


Picture 7. Within the DDR, strict norms have been developed and enforced to make sure acceptable pedagogical strategies, infrastructure, and open areas at youngsters’s services. New housing developments, such because the one in Rostock featured right here, have been required to incorporate massive open areas for kids.


Along with offering free childcare to all households, the DDR strove to interrupt down cultural taboos and promote the well being of ladies and youngsters, no matter their circumstances. The 1965 Household Code, for example, eradicated the discriminatory authorized class of ‘youngsters born out of wedlock’ whereas emphasising the function of each dad and mom in elevating a toddler. The 1972 Legislation on the Termination of Being pregnant additionally contributed to ladies’s self-determination and household planning by introducing free and authorized entry to contraceptives and abortions throughout the first 12 weeks of being pregnant. In distinction, the structure of the Federal Republic of Germany comprises a clause criminalising abortion to this present day, and, since 1976, ladies have been required to attend a obligatory counselling session to be able to obtain an exemption.

Pregnant ladies within the DDR have been assured complete pre- and post-natal consultations to help and monitor moms and their youngsters. By 1989, there have been greater than 850 being pregnant session centres all through the nation to information expectant moms in medical and social questions. After start, some 9,700 maternity session centres recurrently examined infants and assisted the dad and mom of their new roles. Periodic medical examinations then accompanied youngsters all the best way to maturity. Importantly, dental care was additionally built-in into preventive screenings in kindergartens and faculties, once more in distinction to most well being methods in the present day wherein dental well being will not be publicly assured and is as a substitute left to the monetary sources and discretion of fogeys. Taken collectively, these constructions and insurance policies helped to make sure that household planning and childhood growth might unfold independently of financial concerns.


Picture 8. A paediatrician carries out an examination in a rural outpatient clinic. Along with the early detection of well being abnormalities, the evaluation of a kid’s preparedness for college was additionally a part of the preventive screenings. Confidential documentation of all such examinations and findings on well being and growth accompanied youngsters from start to commencement.


8. Vaccination Methods

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the inequalities and inefficiencies of vaccination manufacturing and distribution within the capitalist world in the present day. On the one hand, mental property rights have been prioritised over public well being, resulting in vaccination apartheid wherein international locations within the International North have amassed sufficient doses to vaccinate their populations thrice over, whereas most states within the South are prevented from reproducing these identical vaccines themselves. If it weren’t for South-South cooperation headed by international locations similar to Cuba and China, vaccination charges in poorer states can be far decrease than they already are. Then again, in a twist of irony, the identical states stockpiling vaccines within the International North struggled to persuade 1 / 4 or perhaps a third of their populations of the efficacy and safeness of immunisation towards COVID-19.

As in lots of different socialist states, the DDR was in a position to obtain notably excessive vaccination charges throughout its 4 many years of existence. A transparent instance of this was the marketing campaign towards the polio virus. In 1961, whereas West Germany was nonetheless registering over 4,600 circumstances of polio, East Germany had lowered its variety of circumstances to lower than 5. The DDR made use of an oral vaccine produced within the Soviet Union and subsequently provided 3 million doses to the FRG, however the latter declined. Whereas East Germany recorded its final polio case in 1962, circumstances continued to be recorded in West Germany till the tip of the Nineteen Eighties.


Picture 9. Vaccinations have been part of the common medical screenings that accompanied youngsters from start to maturity. Well being care was assured in crèches, kindergartens, faculties, and vacation camps, proper by means of to apprenticeships and college research. This {photograph} paperwork the administering of a brand new polio oral vaccine within the type of drops.


The variations within the velocity and effectiveness with which the 2 German states tackled polio stem from two basically totally different approaches to immunisation. Within the DDR, as in most different socialist states and a few Western international locations, childhood vaccinations had been necessary for the reason that early Fifties, and all youngsters obtained a collection of ordinary vaccinations set by the Ministry of Well being. These vaccines have been administered to youngsters instantly in crèches and faculties, whereas adults have been vaccinated within the office. People who didn’t wish to be vaccinated or have their youngsters vaccinated (which primarily occurred for non secular causes) might receive an exemption after consultations with a doctor and regional well being officers. Vaccinations and well being care extra broadly have been thus handled as a social activity within the DDR, and a variety of societal actors, whether or not docs, academics, or dad and mom, ensured that every one youngsters obtained preventive drugs and care.

Within the FRG, in distinction, vaccinations have been beneficial however not necessary, and it was the duty of the households to rearrange appointments with their paediatricians for vaccinations. The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO), an honorary fee of medical specialists, made vaccination suggestions which docs have been then requested and paid to manage, however public vaccination programmes weren’t applied in faculties or on the office. Therefore, for docs within the FRG, the inducement to vaccinate is primarily monetary relatively than medical.

The main focus of in the present day’s political discourse on the legality of necessary vaccinations underestimates and sometimes fails to recognise the essential sensible query of how the state can fulfil its obligation to organise vaccination for all residents in an environment friendly and protected method. Nonetheless, there stays a query as as to if or not the fundamental situations for a mass vaccination programme have been established in a given society. These embody:

      • Securing the sources to make sure that all residents could be vaccinated. Extra particularly, this implies producing or buying sufficient doses for all residents, guaranteeing that services are protected and accessible, and using sufficient medical personnel to manage the vaccines.
      • Coordinating and monitoring vaccinations in an built-in system. One of many explanation why sure illnesses proceed to unfold regardless of vaccination campaigns is that people neglect to rearrange a second or third vaccination crucial for full immunisation. It is a severe limitation of voluntary-based immunisation methods wherein people should maintain monitor of and prepare their booster pictures themselves.
      • Sustaining the general public’s belief in vaccinations and within the establishments and actors that present them – that’s, the state, pharmaceutical producers, and medical professionals. As an illustration, are personal firms receiving public funding to develop vaccines that they are going to then patent and revenue from, or is the state researching and creating vaccines that can be accessible and useful to all?

Obligatory vaccinations within the DDR have been in the end met by a public that was extremely prepared to be vaccinated. Using coercion to extend vaccination charges – a hotly debated difficulty in the present day – was thus not a problem in East Germany. Comparable circumstances are evident in Cuba in the present day, the place the COVID-19 vaccination price (roughly 90 per cent of the inhabitants) is without doubt one of the highest on the planet, and but no coercive measures have been employed.

Obligatory vaccination was understood in socialist East Germany not as a one-sided authorized obligation for the citizen, however because the obligation of the state and its medical establishments. Monitoring and reaching vaccination protection to the best extent potential was a central precedence for well being care professionals, particularly for physicians and authorities on the municipal degree. Alongside the immunisation companies that have been built-in into workplaces, kindergartens, crèches, and faculties, everlasting vaccination centres have been established the place residents might receive data and schedule appointments for added voluntary vaccinations, similar to towards influenza viruses. To this present day, the willingness to be vaccinated towards influenza stays considerably increased in East Germany than within the West.

Regardless of non permanent difficulties within the manufacturing or import of vaccines, the DDR assured common youngster immunisation as much as its dissolution in 1990. Moreover, the variety of diphtheria circumstances was drastically lowered, the combat towards measles was superior by means of booster jabs regardless of non permanent setbacks, and the introduction of a vaccination towards tuberculosis for all new-borns helped to considerably scale back the variety of circumstances. The FRG, which had at all times been in a stronger monetary place than the DDR, was additionally in a position to eradicate many childhood illnesses, however its campaigns typically progressed way more slowly than in East Germany, as is clear with the poliovirus.



Deutsche Demokratische Republik [German Democratic Republic]. Statistische Jahrbücher der DDR [Statistical Yearbooks of the DDR]. Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR, 1956–1991; Rahlf, Thomas, ed. Deutschland in Daten [Germany in Data]. Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2015.


The dismantling of the DDR’s well being care system after 1990 was accompanied by a decline within the willingness to be vaccinated and a rising prevalence of illnesses that had beforehand been in decline. With the transition to a well being care system oriented across the personal sector, immunisation has as soon as once more change into a person duty left to the discretion of sufferers and their normal practitioners relatively than centrally organised state establishments. Although numerous elements contribute to the emergence of epidemics, the reappearance of tuberculosis and measles circumstances within the East of unified Germany after 1990 is tragic proof of the efficacy of the DDR’s vaccination technique. So too is the notably low vaccination price towards COVID-19 in Jap Germany in the present day, which is essentially a product of a disaster of confidence within the authorities and the broader well being sector.


9. The DDR’s Worldwide Cooperation and Medical Solidarity


Picture 10. Within the late Sixties, after an extended interval of imposed diplomatic isolation, an rising variety of international locations (principally from the International South) introduced official relations with the DDR. In 1973, the DDR was admitted to the United Nations and took part constructively in its numerous our bodies and organisations similar to UNESCO and the World Well being Organisation.


This {photograph} reveals the arrival of employees from town carrying a banner that reads ‘Colleagues from the Karl Liebknecht Berlin transformer manufacturing facility are serving to the primary manufacturing cooperative with the harvest!’ The 1945/46, democratic land reform within the Soviet Occupation Zone secured meals provides within the dire post-war interval whereas additionally basically altering the system of land possession in East Germany. Roughly 560,000 small farms emerged from the redistribution scheme, however they have been typically poorly outfitted and equipped. City industrial and craft enterprises stepped in to assist with the harvest within the rising agricultural cooperatives.

On 8 Could 1973, the DDR grew to become a recognised, equal, and energetic member of the World Well being Organisation (WHO) alongside 145 different states. The FRG had been a member of the WHO since 1951 and with its declare to be the only real consultant of Germany had hindered the DDR’s worldwide cooperation within the subject of well being and its entry to worldwide sources. Following its admission in 1973, the DDR grew to become a proactive contributor to the WHO, internet hosting the organisation’s 1981 Regional Assembly for Europe together with quite a few WHO workshops. It was additionally actively concerned within the WHO’s Well being for All by the 12 months 2000 programme, particularly on the idea of main well being care on the 1978 Worldwide Convention in Alma-Ata. DDR specialists have been despatched to the WHO as delegates, whereas overseas college students got here to check within the DDR on WHO scholarships. Moreover, fifteen medical establishments and tasks within the DDR have been licensed as WHO Collaborating Centres, which supported the WHO’s world programmes by conducting analysis, gathering information, and fostering the alternate of scientific and sensible expertise.

As well as, cooperation between the socialist states was intensive but in addition restricted by variations in every nation’s capabilities. The DDR, for example, equipped many medicines in addition to medical gear to the Soviet Union and its allies, whereas a number of thousand docs from the DDR obtained specialist coaching in these international locations.


Picture 11. On this article, copied from an entry in Dr. Rüdiger Feltz’s Nicaragua diary on 15 March 1986, the Nicaraguan press studies on the development of the Carlos Marx Hospital, which began as a triage tent and was quickly expanded into a totally functioning hospital. The hospital’s development in addition to the coaching of its employees and provision of its gear and medicines have been organised by DDR officers and financed by donations from DDR residents. It was one in every of East Germany’s largest solidarity tasks.


The DDR’s internationalist solidarity with international locations all through the International South included quite a few tasks within the well being sector. There have been contractual agreements with over 40 international locations and nationwide liberation organisations, such because the South West African Individuals’s Organisation (SWAPO) and the African Nationwide Congress (ANC). The spectrum of the DDR’s medical internationalism included supplying medicines and gear, deploying docs and nurses abroad, coaching and additional educating worldwide personnel within the DDR, and constructing and working hospitals.

For instance:

      • The DDR-Vietnam Friendship Hospital, in the present day the Viet-Duc (German-Vietnamese) Hospital, in Hanoi, Vietnam was equipped with medical supplies by the DDR as early as 1956.
      • The Carlos Marx Hospital was in-built Nicaragua within the Nineteen Eighties and largely operated by DDR medical and technical specialists. By 1989, there have been roughly 90 workers working there, together with 25 docs and 23 mid-level medical employees from the DDR.
      • Over 50 docs and specialists from the DDR constructed and operated the Metema Tropical Hospital in Ethiopia from 1987 to 1988 to deal with drought victims.
      • Angola obtained 27 ambulances by means of DDR solidarity donations in 1975. In a rehabilitation centre within the capital metropolis of Luanda, DDR medical personnel handled wounded combatants of the Individuals’s Motion for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). The centre additionally operated as a faculty to coach native nurses and docs.
      • The DDR despatched specialists to Cambodia (the 17 April Hospital), Mozambique (the cities of Chimoio and Tete), Algeria (Frenda, Mahdia, and Oran), the Individuals’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (Aden), and Guinea (the orthopaedic-technical centre in Conakry). DDR paediatricians additionally handled sufferers on the Nationwide Union of Tanganyika Staff’ clinic in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


Picture 12. The DDR’s Dorothea Christiane Erxleben Medical College, named after Germany’s first feminine medical physician, emphasised medical pedagogy. The target was to coach college students in order that they might in flip train trainees of their residence international locations, thereby selling the event and autonomy of native well being care methods.


Moreover, docs from international locations all through Africa, Asia, and Latin America obtained specialist coaching within the DDR, and about 700 abroad sufferers have been handled within the DDR yearly. Nurses and different mid-level medical professionals additionally obtained coaching within the DDR, most frequently on the Dorothea Christiane Erxleben Medical College, which drew roughly 2,000 college students from greater than 60 states and nationwide liberation actions throughout its 30-year existence. The DDR’s medical internationalism was characterised by each rapid assist and a dedication to supporting the long-term growth of self-sustaining medical companies within the rising nation states.

‘Contract employees from Poland, Mozambique, Mongolia, and different international locations had at all times been employed in processing vegetation within the meat business. As a rule, employees ought to have been examined for health of their residence international locations earlier than coming to the DDR. However, throughout our recruitment examinations, we frequently detected severe sicknesses of the lungs, liver, kidneys, and many others. However these sufferers have been by no means despatched again. As a substitute, they have been admitted to particular clinics the place they have been handled freed from cost, typically for months. This was sensible solidarity within the DDR. What an enormous distinction [with health care] after “reunification” in 1990, when, for instance, a determined father from Russia approached me together with his youngster affected by a tumour. Docs from the Charité Hospital have been prepared to function on him, however the funds couldn’t be secured. Within the media in the present day, we frequently hear folks begging for cash to assist severely sick youngsters from overseas, which at all times makes me unhappy and indignant on the identical time. The “impoverished” DDR by no means needed to beg for such humanistic gestures!’

– Dr. Renate Rzesnitzek, a radiologist within the enterprise polyclinic of the Berlin meat mix


10. Why Is Socialism the Greatest Prophylaxis?

With the incorporation of East Germany into the FRG in 1990, the DDR’s 40-year endeavour to assemble a basically totally different well being care system was dropped at an finish. The medical infrastructure and employees of the previous DDR have been engulfed by the West German system, which had itself been caught up in a wave of neoliberal commercialisation for the reason that mid-Nineteen Eighties. Company hospital chains emerged all through Germany within the many years that adopted, and the personal observe mannequin of outpatient care was reimposed on the East. The revenue motive got here to dominate the medical career as soon as once more, as Irene, a former nurse employed in one of many DDR’s polyclinics, recounted: ‘By 1993, physicians had begun to arrange their personal practices. After my chief physician had attended a category on self-employment, she stated to us, “I realized in the present day that there are three rules of self-employment within the new system. First, we should at all times be sort to the sufferers in order that they like to return to us. Second, we should uncover what we will earn from the affected person. How a lot income will they generate for us? And the third precept: We can’t permit them to get wholesome”. That was my expertise of the system change after 1990, and it has been my general feeling within the well being sector ever since’.

The reimposition of commercially oriented medical practices in East Germany has made the distinction between capitalist and socialist well being care all of the clearer. Whereas the market turns illnesses into commodities and sufferers into clients, socialist drugs seeks to stop the illness and sickness to start with, making human well-being its guideline. As in different socialist states similar to Cuba, prevention remained the guideline of the DDR’s strategy to well being care all through its existence. As soon as the revenue motive had been eradicated from each drugs and the economic system, there was no cause why people and employees must be allowed to get sick.

Within the DDR, political emphasis was positioned on social drugs – that’s, the systematic recognition and combating of the socio-economic determinants of well being and sickness relatively than an strategy that merely focuses on how these manifest on the particular person degree. Whereas each social and particular person drugs present essential views for stopping and treating sickness, insurance policies aimed toward enhancing the inhabitants’s well being will inevitably be restricted if the final social context and root causes of illness are disregarded.

‘All through my political life… I’ve seen the world by means of the eyes of a physician, for whom poverty, distress, and illness are the principle enemies. That’s how I got here to communism, and that’s how I used to be fortunate sufficient to expertise within the DDR a well being and social system that established a powerful framework, a social and well being system for the entire inhabitants similar to I had by no means seen earlier than. […] I’m not uncritical of the previous DDR and don’t glorify its previous. […] However one factor I do know for certain: it could by no means have pushed me away from the concepts of socialism, for I arrived at them through unforgettable experiences underneath capitalism. […] The very best, most humane and scientific drugs in the end stays helpless underneath situations of social distress. The state of the world in the present day offers probably the most compelling and horrific proof of this. However the reverse can also be true: even the most effective social surroundings is powerless within the face of illness if it lacks drugs of the very best scientific and humanistic order.’

– Ingeborg Rapoport (1912–2017), a professor of paediatrics who held the primary chair within the tutorial subject of neonatology in Europe, emigrated from Nazi Germany to the US as a medical pupil, and resettled within the DDR in 1952.

Outpatient care, which has been a central focus of this research, displays most strikingly the excellence between a capitalist and a socialist well being care system. Outpatient services and professionals in East Germany have been built-in into all areas of society, from workplaces and faculties to city neighbourhoods and rural villages. The nation’s numerous medical establishments have been linked by means of an built-in community that promoted cooperation relatively than competitors. This in depth infrastructure functioned as an early warning system that would determine and counteract dangerous developments wherever and each time they emerged. The sector of occupational well being care was notably vital on this respect because it allowed the hyperlinks between work and sickness to be scrutinised and addressed. Equally, the mixing of preventive care in childcare and academic establishments turned well being issues right into a social duty that was shouldered not solely by dad and mom but in addition by academics, physicians, and public officers.

What stands out within the East German context are the achievements in well being care coverage regardless of the difficulties dealing with DDR society. Located on the frontlines of the Chilly Struggle, the nation was closely sanctioned and struggled to import fashionable medical know-how and gear. On the identical time, working situations have been strained by the requirements of reindustrialisation after 1945, which regularly entailed arduous labour and publicity to brown coal air pollution. The DDR’s early years have been additionally marked by a severe labour scarcity within the well being sector as medical professionals have been lured westward. But, regardless of these challenges, the socialist state was in a position to make use of its restricted sources to progressively enhance the social state of affairs and well being of the inhabitants, and, within the course of, the medical career was revolutionised to interrupt down conventional hierarchies. The sector of drugs was opened as much as the working class and peasantry, whereas the transition from personal practices to polyclinics helped to erode the privileges of physicians over nurses and assistants as former employers and workers grew to become colleagues.

These successes have been made potential by two main political developments. First, well being was made right into a societal precedence in East Germany after the Second World Struggle. Whereas within the Weimar period well being insurance policies needed to be fought for by commerce unions and conceded by the capitalist class, the DDR was a employees’ and peasants’ state; well being, social, and cultural rights have been enshrined within the nation’s structure, and the enforcement of those rights was overseen by employees themselves. The second issue was the socialisation of property relations in East Germany, which created the framework for an built-in well being care system. The state’s centralised organisation of business, housing, drugs, and schooling meant that well being targets might be mentioned and applied in relation to different social, financial, and political targets. A complete hyperlink was thus established between well being coverage and all areas of society, creating for the primary time a sensible foundation for such discussions (regardless of typically fierce coverage debates) .

In the present day, to justify the privatisation of well being care methods worldwide, we’re instructed that markets guarantee probably the most environment friendly allocation of sources in society. But, because the COVID-19 virus claims thousands and thousands of lives and ravages the enfeebled well being sectors of even the richest states, the inefficiency of the market and inhumanity of personal possession are extra evident than ever. The DDR demonstrated that an alternate is feasible – one which locations human well-being at its centre, pushed and managed by working folks. Even underneath situations of extreme financial constraint, socialism has confirmed that preventive care, efficient remedy, and dignified employment could be assured for all. Certainly, embargoed Cuba continues to show this level in the present day, not solely offering exemplary well being take care of its folks but in addition serving these in want all over the world. The well being care methods of the longer term will discover their blueprints within the socialist societies of these states like Cuba and the DDR.



This research was produced in collaboration with Dr. Heinrich Niemann (b. 1944), who labored as a specialist in social drugs within the DDR and served as district councillor for well being in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Berlin throughout the Nineteen Nineties. The part on occupational psychology was co-authored with Dr. Klaus Mucha, an occupational psychologist. We additionally obtained vital inputs from interviews with Dr. Herbert Kreibich (b. 1943), a specialist in occupational well being care who led the DDR’s Central Institute of Occupational Drugs from 1983 till 1990; Irene (b. 1940), a former nurse within the DDR who labored in a polyclinic in sports activities drugs prophylaxis and in an enterprise outpatient clinic (she has requested for her surname to be withheld for private causes); and Dr. Rüdiger Feltz (b. 1958), a specialist in neurosurgery who was a practising doctor within the DDR and in the present day within the Federal Republic of Germany. All of the interviews have been carried out between Could and November 2021 in Berlin.




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