New Course 2018/2019

There were three major thrusts of the new course: improvement of consumer goods, the end of terror, and a relaxation of ideological standards. It was announced in March 1953, after the death of Soviet premier Joseph Stalin. Investment in heavy industry was to be cut and production of consumer goods stepped up. A series of taxes on farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and private firms was lifted. Private businesses that had been closed down by the authorities could start up again. Refugees who had gone to the West were invited to return and offered help. Farmers were promised back their land. They could borrow money, machines, and seeds. Intellectuals received permission to attend conferences in West Germany, and West Germans could get permission more easily to visit relatives in the GDR. Students expelled from a university because of their religious beliefs could come back. All those arrested on religious grounds were to be released, and the campaign against the church was to end. The idea of “class justice” was abandoned. The middle class would get ration cards back and some recent price increases were revoked. The SED Politburo admitted to “errors in the past.”