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Constitution of the GDR (April 6, 1968)

As a symbol of the GDR’s continuing consolidation, 94.49% of the East German population approved a new constitution in a referendum in April 1968. The constitution underscored the socialist character of the workers' state by emphasizing the leading role of the SED while still upholding the concept of the German nation.

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Bearing the responsibility of showing the entire German nation the way toward a future of peace and socialism,
in light of the historical fact that imperialism – under the leadership of the USA and in agreement with West German circles of capitalist monopoly – has divided Germany and built up West Germany as a base for imperialism and the struggle against socialism, which contradicts the vital interests of the nation,
the people of the German Democratic Republic, firmly resting on the achievements of the anti-fascist-democratic and socialist transformation of the social order,
its working classes and strata united in continuing the work of the Constitution of October 7, 1949 in spirit,
and imbued with the will to continue resolutely and voluntarily along the path of peace, social justice, democracy, socialism, and international understanding,
have given themselves this socialist Constitution.

Article 1
The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state of the German nation. It is the political organization of the working population in town and country, who are jointly realizing socialism under the leadership of the working class and its Marxist-Leninist party.
The capital of the German Democratic Republic is Berlin.
The state flag of the German Democratic Republic consists of the colors black, red, and gold, and shows the state emblem of the German Democratic Republic in the center of both sides.
The state emblem of the German Democratic Republic is a hammer and compass surrounded by a wreath of grain whose base is entwined by a black, red, and gold ribbon. [ . . . ]

Article 8
(1) The generally recognized rules of international law that serve peace and peaceful cooperation among nations are binding for the state and for every citizen. The German Democratic Republic will never undertake a war of aggression or use its armed forces against the freedom of another people.
(2) The establishment and maintenance of normal relations and cooperation between the two German states on the basis of equality is a national concern of the German Democratic Republic. The German Democratic Republic and its citizens, moreover, seek to overcome the division forced on the German nation by imperialism, and to gradually rapproch the two German states to the point of their unifcation on the basis of democracy and socialism.

Source: Nationale Front des demokratischen Deutschland, ed., Verfassung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, Berlin: 1968, p. 1 ff.

Original German text reprinted in Volker Gransow and Konrad Jarausch, eds., Die Deutsche Vereinigung: Dokumente zu Bürgerbewegung, Annäherung und Beitritt. Cologne: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, 1991, pp. 40-41.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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