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Principles and Aims of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (April 21, 1946)

On April 21-22, 1946, the KPD and the SPD in the Soviet occupation zone merged to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany [Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands or SED]. Wilhelm Pieck (KPD) and Otto Grotewohl (SPD) became co-chairmen of the new party. Back in the summer of 1945, the KPD had set up its own party apparatus in close collaboration with the Soviet occupying power. With this move, the KPD had initially rejected the desire for unity expressed by workers’ parties immediately after the end of the war. But it soon became clear that the KPD enjoyed little popular political support, and the party changed its position. In the fall of 1945, with massive Soviet support, it launched a campaign to merge with the SPD. Although the vast majority of SPD supporters approved only a close cooperation between the two parties, and not a complete merger, Grotewohl eventually yielded to KPD pressure. It was his hope, however, that democratic principles could be secured within the SED. The basic program of the SED promised democratic elections and the protection of individual liberties, but the party also came out clearly in favor of building up socialism and did not rule out the use of revolutionary means in achieving that goal.

The circumstances of the forced merger of the KPD and the SPD in the Soviet zone pulled the rug out from under any merger of the two parties in the West and indirectly contributed to the creation of the Bizone and the deepening of political divisions, since the British and the Americans now feared that an all-German government would bear a Communist imprint.

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Twelve years of fascist dictatorship, six years of Hitlerian war, have flung the German people into the most dreadful economic, political, and moral catastrophe of their history.

Germany was turned into a field of ruins.

Hitler fascism was the instrument of domination used by the wildest reactionary and imperialist elements of finance-capital, by the lords of the armaments combines, and by the large banks and the owners of large estates.

Fascism attained power by splitting the working class. It destroyed all democratic rights and liberties by the cruelest terror and transformed Germany into a military prison.

This cleared the way for an unimpeded imperialist war policy. German imperialism had no compunction about sacrificing the lives and means of existence of millions of workers, farmers, tradesmen, intellectuals, and above all youth, to its claims of world hegemony; it risked the existence and future of the nation.

How can a way be found out of this catastrophe?

Militarism and imperialist policies of force and war have twice plunged Germany into the greatest national disaster.

To safeguard peace, to reconstruct the German economy, and to preserve the unity of Germany it is necessary to destroy the remnants of Hitler fascism and to liquidate militarism and imperialism.

Never again must reaction be allowed to rule

Never again must reaction be allowed to rule! The unity of the workers' movement and a bloc of all anti-fascist democratic parties is the most important prerequisite for this.

Of all strata of the German people, working men and women have endured the greatest suffering, have borne the heaviest burdens. They constitute the vast majority of the people. On their shoulders first and foremost the burden of reconstruction and of restitution rests.

Therefore the working people must decide the fate of the new democratic Germany.

The working class will unite all democratic and progressive groups of the people. It is the most consistent democratic force and the most resolute fighter against imperialism. It is the force which will surmount our national disaster. The working class alone has a great historical aim: socialism.

The future therefore belongs to it, together with all working men and women. The bitter experience of the past has taught us that the working class can only take the lead in building the new, free, and indivisible German republic and can only then achieve the reform of all political, economic, cultural, and intellectual relationships and the building of socialism, if it overcomes the split in its own ranks, if it creates the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and gathers the entire working population around it.

The fusion of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and of the Communist Party of Germany is therefore the demand of the hour, whose fulfillment brooks no delay. With these considerations in mind the Socialist Unity Party of Germany is formed on the basis of the following principles and aims:

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