Marx Scholarship in German Democratic Republic (GDR)  (1949–1989)

The ubiquity of claims alleging that "Marx's teachings had been implemented" in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) might lead one to believe that Marxism was no more than the ruling ideology of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED). However, this would be to take too narrow a view. Between 1946 and 1989, the GDR witnessed not only heterodox debates on Marx, conducted within the niches of real existing socialism, but also a comprehensive scholarly engagement with Marx. Historical research and the publication of Marx's works, in particular work on the MEGA, yielded especially bountiful results.

There existed other readings of Marx in the GDR than that of "official Marxism," as well as lively debates among philosophers, economists and social scientists – many of the protagonists of these debates would fall victim to repression. Important names associated with the heterodox, but also in some case with the dogmatic debate on Marx in the GDR include Ernst Bloch, Helmut Seidel, Robert Havemann, Wolfgang Harich, Peter Ruben, Rudolf Bahro, Manfred Buhr, Jürgen Kuczynski, Gunther Kohlmey and Friedrich "Fritz" Behrens.

Insight into scholarly research on Marx in the GDR is today provided by archives such as that of Beiträge zur Marx-Engels-Forschung ("Contributions to Research on Marx and Engels") the Marx-Engels-Forschungsberichte ("Research Reports on Marx and Engels") or the Hallesche Arbeitsblätter zur Marx-Engels-Forschung ("Halle Working Notes on Research into Marx and Engels"). A good introduction to the difficulties associated with this topic has been written by Lutz Brangsch: Marxismus und Denken im Anschluss an Marx in der DDR ("Marxism and Marx-Related Thought in the GDR").