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Das Ende vor dem Ende: zur Rolle der DDR-Energiewirtschaft beim Systemwechsel 1980-1990

Cornerstones of the former East Germany’s atomic energy plan
[working paper]

Hänel, Michael

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Abstract On 4 December 1989, one of the most ambitious projects to build atomic power plants came to an end. Nevertheless, far away from any international safety level, the Russiandesigned Greifswald Atomic Power Plant became the most dangerous undertaking to date for the environment of the entire Northern Germany and Baltic Sea region. As the cornerstone of the former East Germany’s atomic energy plan, the planned reactors were to be the complete solution to any and all energy crises that might hit the weakened state’s economy during the 1980s. Despite the billions invested, no reactor was started up after 1979, thereby showing the East German leadership to be in need of reform. Since 1990, increased attention has focussed on the prominent role played in the decline of socialist East Germany by the facts of Stasi’s suppression, the absence of freedom of speech and domicile, and the enormous pollution of the environment. This is due to the progress achieved in the analysis of Stasi’s files, beginning with the termed Opferakten (surveillance files made by Stasi department XX). All these reasons, leading to the collapse of the G.D.R., originated with the permanent energy crisis, which in turn resulted from the collapse of the atomic energy plan. This article raises the question of whether the self-satisfied East German systems had gotten into difficulties over energy and industrial production due to pressure by those whom Harry Maier termed the Innovationsträgheit (sluggishness of innovation). With the help of Stasi archives, the State party SED and various Ministries, the motives, goals and planning of energy sector during the last decade of G.D.R. as a state have been revealed. This article discusses both conventional and unorthodox perceptions of atomic energy plan, from the bureaucracy and the technical experts, and the question of whether there existed a way out of energy crisis. It analyses the role of Stasi’s control in this part of the economy and the tragic capitulation of East Germany’s Atomic Safety Agency, overwhelmed by the nuclear power plant’s supervisor in 1988. Finally, it tries to point out to the co-operation of the Federal Environmental Ministry and the East German bureaucracy and the last victory of ‘Eastern’ ideologues on this front of the Cold War.
Keywords German Democratic Republic (GDR); energy industry; energy production; nuclear energy; nuclear power plant; energy policy; technical development; economic policy; economic planning; economic relations; USSR; Ministry of State Security (GDR); historical development
Classification General History
Document language German
Publication Year 1998
City Edmonton
Page/Pages 32 p.
Series Occasional Papers in German Studies, 15
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works