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Lessons from Socialism in East Germany


Published October 8, 2020

Socialism promises greater equality and shared prosperity, but the contrasting experiences of East and West Germany after World War II suggest a different reality. When the Soviet Union implemented repressive socialism in East Germany, their citizens fled to West Germany’s capitalism and freedom. East Germany eventually abandoned socialism for the liberal democracy and market economy of Western Germany.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does socialism promise? What does it deliver?
  2. Besides East Germany, are there other examples of countries that have tried and then turned away from socialism?

Additional Resources:

  • To learn more, read “Leaving Socialism Behind: A Lesson from German History,” by Russell Berman. Available here.
  • Read “At 200, Marx Is Still Wrong,” by Russell Berman via Defining Ideas. Available here.
  • Read “Marx’s Kapital Crimes,” by Russell Berman via POLITICO. Available here.