Home » today » Business » Uncovering SED Assets: The Impact on Eastern Germany and Beyond

Uncovering SED Assets: The Impact on Eastern Germany and Beyond

Comrades make use of SED assets

The comrades began to hide these party assets quite early after the fall of the Berlin Wall in order to protect them from state access. Around 490 million East Marks will be distributed as loans to deserving party cadres and officials, a total of 160 borrowers. “The comrades actually ran home with bags and bags full of money, you could keep your hands open and get money easily,” says journalist and author Peter Wensierski, who has researched hidden SED assets for years.

The comrades actually ran home with bags and bags full of money.

Peter Wensierski, journalist and author

Many officials use the money to set up their own companies and thus secure a soft landing in the market economy. But not every socialist has what it takes to be a capitalist. In Chemnitz, for example, the son of a functionary squandered 600,000 East German marks from the party coffers. He buys an old factory owner’s villa and starts a fishing supplies business. When the “angler’s paradise” no longer runs smoothly, he opens a hotel in the villa, then a restaurant, a commercial detective agency and a demolition company – all attempts of short duration and moderate success. Finally, a brothel is rented in the villa.

SED money hidden in foreign accounts

The party, which has been called the PDS since the beginning of 1990, also sends hundreds of millions abroad through straw men. One of these scams was discovered just two weeks after reunification, when the party secretary of the Saale district wanted to withdraw 70 million German marks in cash from a bank in Norway. His inexperienced behavior makes the bank employees suspicious – they notify the authorities in Germany, who arrange a house search at the PDS party headquarters in Berlin.

This is how the so-called Putnik deal comes to light. As a pretext for sending the money abroad, the comrades invent debts that the SED is said to have had in the Soviet Union. The Moscow company Putnik invoices the successor party PDS and gets the money transferred to an account in West Germany – of course not in transfer rubles, but in hard German marks! From there it is transferred to Norway and the Netherlands.

The Putnik deal is the most well-known, but by no means the only scam involving the SED’s assets. In the following years, investigators and a specially appointed commission were able to track down a large part of them. To date, around 1.5 billion euros have been rediscovered. But that’s not all, Wensierski is convinced. The journalist assumes that a three-digit million amount is still hidden: “There is still money in some accounts, and quite a bit. And these accounts are somewhere abroad, in the hands of people who are not actually entitled to it.”

There is still money in some accounts, and quite a bit.

Peter Wensierski, journalist and author

What has been collected over the last three decades is distributed to the eastern German states, which use the money for investments and charitable purposes. The population number from 1991 serves as the distribution key. Transfers from the “assets of parties and mass organizations of the GDR” (PMO for short), which largely consists of the SED’s assets, have so far occurred in the years 1994, 1997, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2018 and 2021. Saxony received the largest “piece of cake”.

Saxony benefits most from SED assets

As the Ministry of Finance in Dresden announced in response to an MDR request, around 295 million euros in PMO funds have flowed to Saxony since reunification. The money was used, among other things, to renew streets in Saxon municipalities, make public transport stops barrier-free and purchase new low-floor trams for Leipzig.

A lot of PMO money also went to memorial sites: for the victims of the so-called Nazi euthanasia in Großschweidnitz, for the victims of the Nazi military justice system in Torgau and for the prisoners of the former Sachsenburg concentration camp. A particular irony of history: three memorials for the victims of SED injustice were also co-financed with money from the former state party: the former Stasi prison on Bautzner Straße in Dresden, the Runde Ecke in Leipzig and the Kaßberg prison in Chemnitz.

Part of the party’s assets also benefited monument protection, such as the renovation of the New Castle in Bad Muskau, the Cistercian monastery of St. Marienthal in Ostritz, the music pavilion in Bad Elster and various cultural monuments that were damaged by floods. The State Art Collections in Dresden also received funds for the purchase of works of art and for digitization, and the State Museum of Archeology in Chemnitz received money for “various investments”.

Saxony received the last transfer for the time being in 2021. From this tranche of around 44 million euros, a good 100 projects were or are being supported, such as the recently opened textile and lace museum in the Weisbachschen Haus in Plauen. The money must be spent by 2025 at the latest, otherwise it will have to be paid back to the federal government.

Thuringia promotes memorials and broadband internet

In recent years, considerable funds from the SED’s assets have also flowed into the expansion of fast broadband internet in rural areas. In addition, the expansion of a Fraunhofer competence center for innovative battery technology in Hermsdorf, the renovation and redesign of the fire brigade technology center in Artern and various projects in connection with BUGA 2021 were also supported.

Thuringia received around 24 million euros from the last tranche of 2021. Of this, almost 15 million euros will go towards broadband expansion. The money will also be used to subsidize renovation work at the Lindenau Museum in Altenburg, at the German National Theater in Weimar and on the steep wall of the Kyffhäuser Monument. 3.1 million euros will go to Ellrich in northern Thuringia, where the reconstruction of the bell tower of the medieval St. Johannis Church is currently beginning.

Saxony-Anhalt: research, broadband expansion, culture

According to the Finance Ministry in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt has received a total of around 178 million euros from the GDR’s party assets since reunification. Similar to Thuringia, the state invests a large part of it in the expansion of broadband internet. The money was also used to support two high-profile research institutions: the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics in Halle and the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes in Leuna. Further sums went to the teachers’ seminar at the Francke Foundation in Halle as well as daycare centers and sports facilities.

In the area of ​​culture, the Bernburg Castle Museum, the Stiftsberg Museum in Quedlinburg, the Salzland Museum in Schönebeck, the Eisleben Theater and the Nordharzer Städtebundtheater benefited from donations from the PMO pot. Renovation measures at Magdeburg Cathedral, the Hamersleben collegiate church and the arcade houses in Dessau-Törten, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, were also subsidized. In the area of ​​tourism, the development of the cathedral square in Naumburg and improvements to the R1 European cycle path were supported.

The last tranche from 2021, amounting to almost 27 million euros, will subsidize renovation measures at the Schönebeck Salzlandmuseum, Havelberg Cathedral and Stiftsberg in Quedlinburg, as well as play and leisure facilities in Magdeburg, a village meeting center in Niegripp, and the renovation of an outdoor swimming pool in Eilenstedt and the reactivation of a nature and adventure trail in Arendsee.

2023-12-17 00:31:05
#SED #millions #Saxony #SaxonyAnhalt #Thuringia #MDR.DE

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.