Merl S. Agrarian transformations in the former GDR in 1989–2017: A success story? // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2017. V.2. №4. P. 130-147.
The transformations of agriculture in the direction of privatization and adaptation to the market started in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Looking back from today, this was a difficult process for the economic transition was strongly influenced by changing prices and demand for agricultural goods. Today in most countries, agricultural productivity is higher though problems and uncertainties are still evident especially considering the structural changes of agricultural enterprises and their consequences for rural life. The article focuses on the country in which agrarian transformations seem to be a success story: in the GDR, the agricultural productivity grew significantly, and the new structures of the agricultural enterprises allowed competing at the world market. The author does not directly compare the former GDR and Russia though the article contributes to understanding the reasons of the problematic outcomes of the transition in Russia. The article highlights general problems of agrarian transformations such as the uncertainty of their structural aims, and puts forward the following questions: can the GDR be considered a success story transferable to other countries as the political approach in Germany was more sophisticated or is there another explanation of its success? Was the success a result of the political course, or was it, on the contrary, an unexpected result of the lack of control? Another question is the criteria for considering the transition in the GDR a success in the economic sense (increase in productivity), social (keeping up the rural community), ecological or agricultural (increase in sustainability of production). To answer these questions the author relies on the statistical data for more than two decades, monitoring data on the still ongoing transition and partly privatization and registration of new enterprises, his own studies of agricultural enterprises in different new countries together with the Russian colleagues (1992, 1997, 2002 and 2016), which allowed to understand the estimates and reactions of people to different challenges of the transition.
agrarian transformations, the former GDR (German New Countries), economic transition, agricultural production, rural communities
About the author
Merl Stephan, DSc (History), Professor, Bielefeld University; 25 Universitätsstr., 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.