Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Founded 1946
Merger of Communist Party of Germany (KPD),
Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)
Newspaper Neues Deutschland
Youth wing Freie Deutsche Jugend
(Free German Youth)
Ideology Marxism-Leninism
International affiliation Kominform
Official colors Red

The Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) is the governing party of DDR from the formation of the Republic on 7 October 1949. The SED is a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology, considered to be stalinist in the first years of the DDR's existence and evolved later to the German Socialism.


Basic Organization


The Parteitag (Party Congress) is the highest party organ. Party congresses are prepared and planned events with a strong presentation and have to be understood as general social events more than only political events. The delegates of the Congress are elected according to a Central Committee given key in the basic organizations. Care is taken that the ratio of women and young people, members of government mass organizations and other social and party sectors has been preserved. Since the proposal for a delegation is brought to the local chapter, a genuine and democratic elections take place in order to validate the proposal.

The Party usually invites many guests from foreign communist bloc parties and representatives of liberations movements and firendly states.

The Centerpiece of the Party Congress is a keynote speech by the respective General Secretary. Following the keynote speech took place, longer speeches of additional relevant members of the party apparatus and shorter contributions of selected delegates are held. All discussion papers were long prepared and checked several times by the parent bodies. These speeches are regarded as an honor and should illustrate typical examples of the implementation of the requirements of the party. Other government mass organizations members as Young Pioneers, FDJ and armed forces participate with their speeches creating a highly emotional atmosphere. There is a massive media coverage of the Congress.

From 1976 the Party Congress is held in the Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic).


The Zentralkomitee (Central Committee) is the highest authority of the Party structure between Party congresses. The central power is placed at the Sekretariat headed by a Generalsekretär (General Secretary) who is in turn chairman of the Politbüro. The Zentralkomitee is authorized to issue instructions to the government ministers. This leadership results from the constitution of 1968, in which the leadership of the SED has been stated. According to Party rules, the Zentralkomitee directs all Party and government activities between each Party Congress. Members of the Zentralkommitee are elected at the Party Congresses. The Politburo is elected by and reported to the Zentralkomitee. Besides the Politbüro the Zentralkomitee also elects the Sekretariat and the Generalsekretär, the de facto leader of DDR.

The Zentralkomitee is divided into departments headed by a department head. Each department specializes in a workspace, such as agriculture, foreign affairs, defense industry, heavy industry, political, etc.

Elections of members

Members of the Zentralkomitee are elected at Party Congresses by delegates. Nevertheless, there are not competitions for the seats of the Zentralkomitee. The DDR leadership decided beforehand who would be elected, or rather appointed, to the Zentralkomitee.


Important tasks of everyday life are carried out by the Politbüro, a small circle of senior party officials consisting of 15 to 25 members and about ten candidates (without voting rights ), including the ten secretaries of the Zentralkomitee. The Generalsekretär is the Politburo's chairman and "first amongst equals".

Generalsekretär can not appoint new members to the Politburo without support from a majority within the Politburo itself. If supported, the appointment has to be ratified by a Zentralkomitee plenum. The only way for a Generalsekretär to alter the Politbüro membership in any specific way was through the Party Congress.


The Sekretariat head the SED's central apparatus and is solely responsible for the development and implementation of party policies. It is legally empowered to take over the duties and functions of the Zentralkomitee when it is not in plenum. The Sekretariat also carry political weight because all its members sit on the Politbüro.

Role of the SED in the DDR

Assets and Infrastructure of the SED

The SED has extensive assets, particularly infrastructure such as buildings, printers, newspaper publishers as well as recreational facilities and others. Furthermore, there is an international investment that is used among others for the support of sister parties in the West and the Third World, but also for intelligence purposes.

Managed from the Bank für die Entwicklung der Völker located in Switzerland, more than 100 companies worldwide are controlled directly or indirectly by the SED. The value of all investments of the party in DDR and the rest of the world is estimated at 7.8 billion dollars.

Current leaders