The Communist Resistance in East Germany

When the Albanian state media trumpeted the formation of the GDR Section of the Communist Party of Germany/ Marxist-Leninist: Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands/Marxisten-Leninisten  Albania Today  No 2 (27) 1976 declared, it “a victory for the German working class”. The KPD/ML celebrated in Dortmund on March 7 1976 with a rally of 2,300 people to celebrate this historic event.


The KPD/ML declared,

“The time is long since been ripe, even in the DDR to take to build a new Marxist-Leninist party of the working class, the SED irrevocably a party of revisionist treason, degenerated into a bourgeois, social-fascist party. Long has the former workers ‘and peasants’ state became a capitalist country where the working class and all working people are exploited and oppressed. This is the work of revisionist traitors from Schlage Ulbricht and Honecker and their Moscow overlords like Khrushchev, Brezhnev and consorts. Today there is in the DDR the social fascist dictatorship of a new bourgeoisie. Only by a new violent socialist revolution we can smash fascist rule of Honecker clique that is a vassal of the Russian social-imperialism, and build again the rule of the working class in alliance with the peasants and other working people, the dictatorship of the proletariat. ”   Ten years of struggle for a united, independent, socialist Germany – 1968/69 to 1978/79 – Ten years KPD / ML (1979)

More is  known more about the clandestine activity of the German Maoist KPD / ML under the revisionist regime of the DDR than other anti-revisionists resistance as it is the most documented episode. There is as partial record with publicity given to it by the KPD/ML  itself in its newspaper Roter Morgen and the memoirs of Herbert Polifka , a member of the DDR Section of the KPD / ML entitled “Die unbekannte Opposition in der DDR. Zur Geschichte der illegalen Sektion DDR der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands” [The unknown opposition in the GDR. The history of illegal section in the DDR, the Communist Party of Germany].stempel-kpdml

Communist resistance within the DDR, more commonly referred to as East Germany, can also be seen in the prism of the dossiers of the MFs  [Ministry of State security] the colloquially known,  Stasis. The research in the archives of the State Security service of the German Democratic Republic by Tobias Wunschik produced “The KPD / ML Maoists and the destruction of their section in the GDR by the Ministry of State Security.” Here is an archive account of the activities of the “East” Section of the KPD/ML that so annoyed the revisionist leadership that it initiated plans for the destruction and liquidation of both the East Section and its western counterpart, that are supplemented by the account of one-time east section member, Herbert Polifka, although some of his assertions were questioned by former comrades. His article “New Revelations about the Activities and Destruction of the GDR Section of the Communist Party of Germany/Marxist-Leninist (KPD/ML)”, online at  Revolutionary Democracy Vol. V, No. 1, April 1999 and Part two available in Unity and Struggle magazine no.7April 2000. (Originally these revelations were carried in three articles published in Roter Morgen No.24 December 24, 1997, No.1 January 21 1998 and No.2 February 5 1998.)


The KPD/ML had been founded on December 31, 1968 in the Federal Republic of Germany and its ideological foundation was Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. Founded by the anti-revisionist Maoist opposition within the underground KPD, rather than emerging out of the student movement, it was led by Ernst Aust (1923-1985) , publisher and KPD editor , “Mao’s man in Hamburg”, as the “Frankfurter Rundschau” called him. In the late 70s the KPD/ML aligned itself with the dogmatic-revisionist theses of the Albanian leader Hoxha, until it dissolved in 1986 for the majority to merge with a Trotskyist group, the International Marxist Group (GIM) to form the VSP/ United Socialist party. Various individuals of the old KPD/ML established an internet presence to preserve the politics of the KPD/ML such as those maintained online by Wolfgang Eggers at Ernst Aust Archiv – Communist International (Stalinist-Hoxhaists).

 The KPD/ML Anti-Revisionist Struggle in East Germany 1976-1982

 The announcement of the establishment of a section of the KPD/ML in East Germany in the pages of Roter Morgen in February 1976 gave publicity to the clandestine activity of the German Maoist KPD / ML under the revisionist regime of the DDR.

The existence of dissident Marxists within the obstentially “socialist” East Germany was not a sudden overnight bloom but the culmination of a history of autonomous struggles against the disconnect between the state’s propaganda claims and the lived reality of its citizens. The core of the DDR section had emerged within the DDR itself. There were many who questioned “existing socialism” from the Left.

In the early 70s, some students in grades 11 and 12, an Extended High School (Erweiterte Oberschule; EOS) in Berlin came together to study the texts of the classical authors of Marxism-Leninism . They were not alone in the GDR doing this in that period.
Other interested persons among their friends and family joined them, which, with the passage of time, saw the existence of a small group consisting of employees and students circle .Reading the basic texts of the Marxist-Leninist social theory, they increasingly came to the conclusion that there was a wide gap between theory and practice under the `existing socialism’.

In Magdeburg, during 1969-1970, pupils, students and apprentices met to form the Progressive Youth (Progressive Jugend) (formerly Comune 13) Alongside the classical authors of Marxism-Leninism, various forbidden texts (of Mao, Stalin, the Black Panthers, etc.) were read by the youth group, whose activities extended throughout the DDR and which involved a hundred young people.
After the disintegration and liquidation of Progressive Youth, in 1976 the “hard core” of Progressive Youth formed a cell of the KPD / ML [German Communist Party / Marxist-Leninist].
Also in Rostock, an independent circle of students with a similar political orientation was created. Interested in further ideological inspiration, many of these circles themselves made contact with different organizations of the left in West Berlin and the Albanian embassy in East Berlin.
With young people, who were the majority within the section of the DDR, there were a sprinkling of older KPD comrades in the struggle. For example, Comrade Heinz Reiche (`Grandpa Reiche’), who had spent 11 years in prisons and Nazi concentration camps, took part in the activities in Weisswasser (a small town south of Cottbus). Heinz Reiche had previously come into conflict with the SED in the 1950s.

Over the next few years [after 1970] the KPD / ML succeeded in winning supporters and organizing them into cells of the Party in the DDR. These cells were inspired by the cell system operated by the illegal KPD (German Communist Party) during the Nazi dictatorship. According to figures based on research of Stasi files, Wunschik estimated the total number of militants or supporters of the KPD / ML in the GDR amounted to around three dozen. In addition there were about 50 to 60 supporters who were in personal contact with this group.

They call Walter Ulbricht a "traitor" and the ruling SED a "clique"

What the “east section” represented was a concerted effort of “illegal communists” operating clandestine cell structures engaged in the agitational activities and distribution of propaganda leaflets, posters and underground newspapers, both its own and the Polish-language Red Flag of the neighbouring illegal KPP /  the Kazimierz Mijal led Communist Party of Poland to the Polish workers who worked occasionally in East Germany. In its internationalism, the “East Section” reflected the anti-revisionist politics that judged the SED’s obsequious to the state’s guarantor and “so-called “friendship with the Soviet Union” as “just a camouflage for the actual servitude to the Soviet Union by which our country suffers.”

The Founding Declaration of the DDR Section described East Germany as “a capitalist social-fascist state”, “a state in which the bourgeoisie has power, the working class and other working people are exploited and oppressed. The state as a collective capitalist manages the production for the Soviet social imperialists and the new bourgeoisie in their own country. Although the Russian Social imperialists and new bourgeois do not nominally own the farms, they get the profits from the state enterprises. The new bourgeoisie is made up of the high party and government functionaries, together with the army leadership, from bureaucrats and technocrats and top intelligentsia. It is a parasitical class living off the exploitation of the working class and toiling masses of the peasants.”

Tobias Wunschik established that the comrades of the DDR Section developed a considerable amount of propaganda activities. From 1976, numerous sheets were distributed, public buildings were painted with slogans, posters stuck on walls, lampposts, and leafleting activities of a home made type were planned and carried out by cells independently. Thus, the KPD/ML activists would intervened in the political events of the day.

A separate “DDR edition” of “Roter Morgen” was widely distributed. The voice of the Communists was distributed in the DDR either entering it in mailboxes or placing in public places (such as telephone booths, bus stops, train stations, cinemas, and hospitals) or distributing directly in the factories.  This newspaper became the first opposition newspaper that regular appeared in the DDR. Stasi interrogation records notes in the course of questioning, one female participant said: “By distributing the different copies of Roter Morgen I personally saw the possibility to influence workers in a propagandistic way to gather and prepare the forces for a conscious transformation of society in the DDR.”
The East Section tried not only to self-promotion, but also tried to Information about the internal situation in the DDR. “Mood reports” of the East German Cell members were deducted for propaganda purposes anonymously in “Red Morning” prints and underpinned with precise information on supply shortages and corruption.

The East German followers of the KPD / ML developed a remarkable activity. When in January 1979 was to strengthen the DDR activities, the activists in East Berlin within ten months placed in mailboxes a total of 25 different leaflets in 547 different distribution actions

Wunschik, “Die maoistische KPD / ML und die Zerschlagung ihrer ‘Sektion DDR’ durch das MfS”

They also carried out activities in factories. Alongside propaganda actions (such as leafleting, painted slogans, etc.) trade union activities were also developed. Working within the FDGB [Free German Trade Union Federation of the DDR] offered a good opportunity to draw attention to social injustices and to mobilize partners for small actions.
The editor of the party newspaper in Dortmund created special DDR issues. They are introduced in the DDR and distributed by members. The Roter Morgen was very useful for the illegal activities of the Communists. This newspaper, published on thin paper, was introduced illegally in the DDR. Between 1977 and 1984 it was published four times a year.

One cell [City] `Cottbus’ smuggled 3,000 copies of the “DDR edition” of  Roter Morgen , various internal materials of the Party, apparatus for home printing on a mimeograph machine, a typewriter, a 35mm camera , printing ink and ink pads : the train D 359 (Munich – Nuremberg – Berlin) was especially preferred to introduce the materials. In such cases, the leaflets were delivered through packages that were thrown off the train at a certain point, an action that was planned beforehand accurately. When materials are brought by car, transportation is almost always done with the help of a specially prepared fire extinguisher in the vehicle.

Herbert Polika illustrates the traffic of illegal material smuggled in and distributed,

The ‘Magdeburg’ cell in which I was active was a pioneer in this field. For instance, it distributed 200 copies of ‘The Khrushchevites’, 250 copies of ‘Imperialism and the Revolution’, about 60 copies of ‘Reflections on China’ (volumes 1 and 2), thousands of pamphlets on the fight against the modern revisionists, etc. Also, important foreign language documents were sent to different revisionist states (such as Poland, Romania, Soviet Union, Cuba, Hungary, Bulgaria). Internationalism rated very highly: comrades of the DDR Section also distributed the Czerwony Sztandar [Red Flag], organ of the illegal Communist Party of Poland. This newspaper, also printed on thin paper, was both sent into Poland and given to Polish citizens who worked in the DDR. At various Magdeburg construction sites, the Czerwony Sztandar was found over and over again. Donations were illegally brought into Poland to support the striking colleagues there. Russian language publications were left in newsstands of the Soviet army.

see:  New Revelations about the Activities and Destruction of the GDR Section of the Communist Party of Germany/Marxist-Leninist (KPD/ML)

In challenging the ruling SED, the KPD/ML were challenging both the division of Germany, obstreperous in rhetoric to the claimed right of both states to represent the nation, and waging a low intensity struggle in opposition to the class rule of the bourgeoisie and their revisionist counter-parts. It was an unequal fight. The counter measures employed by the East German state saw infiltration by informers:  The State Security succeeded to build a nearly complete monitoring of the groups. For example, one of Berlin’s cells is a pure Stasi product consisting of two IM members. This construct is used only to collect KPD/ML propaganda material.

Thomas Wunschik   details the extensive security operation launched against the East section, a familiar litany of Stasi abuses and harassments of partners and families. The attempts to spread dissent and distrust to paralyses the East section, threats and illegal detentions, arrest, interrogations are recorded in the archives.

The destruction of the “east section” of the KPD/ML through the wave of Stasis arrests in 1980 was partial; it did stem the momentum of development yet the disruption activities of the state authorities continued throughout the following five years, not least in the 1982/84 hunt for an illegal and portable FM radio station, Radio Roter Stachel  operating from West Berlin.

While many East section members were taken into custody and subject to Stasi questioning eventually two leading activists were sentenced to eight years imprisonment and were exiled to the West after five and a half years.

Internally, supporters and sympathisers were taken in, detained and interrogated, externally large scale travel obstruction and border searches were implement to break communication with the KPD/ML with East German authorities refusing entry to 357 West Germans suspected KPD/ML activists.

Sympathetic protest actions trying to draw attention to the plight of their comrades was organised by the KPD/ML:  In the fall of 1981 the magazine “Stern” published pictures of four supporters who were chained at the Alexanderplatz in East Berlin (Stern Nr. 49/1981). They were arrested immediately. Two days after their arrest, they were sentenced to six months in prison and expelled from the DDR.

As part of the campaign for the release of imprisoned sympathisers, KPD/ML organised dropping leaflets by balloons into East Germany, presenting petitions for release, staging hunger strikes at border check points and blocking motorways.

Thomas Wunschik notes that in addition to the fear of public protests of the KPD / ML in the West, the main concern of Stasi was that the Aust-party would build a “Section East” again.  It was not until 1986, after the KPD/ML’s own political disintegration in West Germany, that the surveillance operation was virtually ended. Why was the State security stronger than previously endeavour after the destruction in 1981?  To prevent all the initiatives of the KPD / ML in East Germany from developing once more.



 mit-maoWith Mao….

After Mao’s death in September 1976, the KPD/ML distanced herself first cautiously, from the summer of 1977 and more clearly from the “Right deviation” of the Chinese Communists, and eventually in 1978 ”fully and irrevocably” rallied to the open struggle against Chinese revisionism, as new variant of modern revisionism  and denounced Maoism in support of Enver Hoxha’s Party of Labour of Albania.

Previously the term “Maoist” from a formal point of view had been applied to those parties and organizations in the debate in the international communist movement of the sixties taking the side of (what was regarded as) the apparent head of the Marxist-Leninist wing, the Communist Party of China led by Mao Zedong. A brief review of the history of the KPD / ML would record that the KPD/ML had better relations and contact with the Albanian party than the Communist Party in China, consequentially there was a “lean to one side” within their relationship. In 1974 Ernst Aust the founder-leaders of the West-KPD / ML, had been officially received by Hoxha on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the liberation of Albania. Hoxha recognizes Aust as the “leader of the Albanian oriented German proletariat” and declared his party even for fraternal party.enver_ernst5

The Albanians, through its embassy maintained contact with the clandestine communists, supplied them with materials for their activities with copies of the books of Enver Hoxha and the German edition of the magazine “New Albania”. According to Polifka, who knew first hand, the activities of the “East section”, hundreds of copies of work by Enver Hoxha were smuggled in and distributed. Among the activities of the “East section” was promotion through leaflets advertising the broadcasting schedule of of Radio Tirana which carried reports that denounced the treachery and oppression in the revisionist DDR. There are sometimes personal contacts of individuals to embassy staff that are maintained either through visits to the embassy or other places, such as the Leipzig Trade Fair.

When, in the second half of the 1970s a rift between the PTA and the CCP occurred, the KPD / ML was aligned with the Albanian position. The position was that Albania led by Hoxha remain as the last “bastion” of the socialist idea. Indeed, Polifka suggests that the Stasi tried to use the ideological dispute to disrupt the “East section”:

“With the help of IMs [unofficial Stasi collaborators, informers], feelings of uncertainty were created in ideological issues in cells. For example, the IM Niehueser made harsh attacks against the Party of Labour of Albania (PTA), defending Maoism. His Maoist positions, however, were rejected. In addition, in the DDR the dispute with Maoism was less problematic than in the West. ”

After 1978 Hoxha tries to establish a new “Communist International” with the communist factions in various countries. The KPD/ML led by Augst was a leading European advocate of this Albanian orientation. In June 1978 the party had explained:

It decided firstly that Mao Tse-tung, contrary to the previous opinion of the party, cannot be regarded as classics of Marxism-Leninism because his teaching is contrary to fundamental questions against the Marxist-Leninist principles.  This decision of the Central Committee, which was taken after a thorough discussion in the entire party will be published in “Red Morning” and explained in the theoretical organ “The Way of the Party” in detail.

The Decision of the Central Committee , published in “Red Morning” , initially explained : “Since the establishment of our party we have considered Mao Zedong amongst the classics of Marxism-Leninism.

 Since August 1968 even before the founding of the party, the emblem with the heads of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong in the banner title of “Red Morning”. This was done under the influence of the Cultural Revolution in China and documented our hostility to modern revisionism. Then, as later, our party did not recognize the serious errors and discrepancies contained in the teachings of Mao Tse-tung. “In the following highlights three important issues that Mao Tse-tung in theory and practice principle of Marxism-Leninism departed: on the question of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, in Mao Tse-tung to the “co-existence in the long run” against the bourgeoisie pursued; in the question of the struggle against revisionism, in Mao Tse tung has taken a vacillating attitude not only against the Tito-revisionism, but also against the Soviet revisionism;. on the issue of counter-revolutionary “theory of the three ranges,” for their development of Mao Tse-tung’s responsible and he has enjoy political support ” These serious deviations from Mao Tse-tung “, according to the decision,” make it clear that he is not a classic of Marxism-Leninism “to conclude:”. An overall assessment of the work of Mao Tse-tung has judged mainly after are actually achieved the successes in terms of the construction of socialism in the PRC under his leadership or not has been made and the context in which today’s revisionist history of the CPC and the PRC with the work of Mao Zedong stands.

“Ten years of struggle for a united, independent, socialist Germany – 1968/69 to 1978/79 – Ten years KPD / ML” (1979)

ohne-mao….without Mao



Further reading

Polifka Herbert , “Die unbekannte Opposition in der DDR. Zur Geschichte der illegalen Sektion DDR der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands” [The unknown opposition in the GDR. The history of illegal section in the GDR the Communist Party of Germany].

The book and its three appendices with documents, in German, can be downloaded using the following links:


Tobias Wunschik “Die maoistische KPD / ML und die Zerschlagung ihrer ‘Sektion DDR’ durch das MfS” [The Maoist KPD / ML and the destruction of their section in the GDR by the Ministry of State Security] can be download, in German, here:


mao-projekt. de/

Website project on the German extra-parliamentary opposition in the 1960s relating to the Maoist organizations (or ‘K-Gruppen’ as they were known in Germany, referring to the fact that they all began with the letter ‘K’) The project has the full set of back issues of Roter Morgen, the newspaper of the KPD/ML from during the Cultural Revolution.


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