André Steiner

The Plans that Failed: An Economic History of East Germany. 1945-1989

Studies in German History. Vol. 13. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010.

 The establishment of the Communist social model in one part of Germany was a result of international postwar developments, of the Cold War waged by East and West, and of the resultant partition of Germany. As the author argues, the GDR’s ‘new’ society was deliberately conceived as a counter-model to the liberal and market regulated system. Although the hopes connected with this alternative system turned out to be misplaced and the planned economy may be thoroughly discredited today, it is important to understand the context in which it developed and failed. This study, a bestseller in its German version, offers an in-depth exploration of the GDR economy’s starting conditions and the obstacles to growth it confronted during the consolidation phase. These factors, however, were not decisive in the GDR’s lack of growth compared to that of the Federal Republic. As this study convincingly shows, it was the economic model that led to failure.