Volkseigener Betrieb

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Traces of VEB Autoreparaturwerk Dresden

The Publicly Owned Operation (German: Volkseigener Betrieb; abbreviated VEB) was the main legal form of industrial enterprise in East Germany. They were all publicly owned and were formed after mass nationalisation between 1945 and the early 1960s, and the handing back in 1954 of some 33 enterprises previously taken by the USSR as reparations.

The managing director of a VEB was called a plant or works manager (German: Werkleiter, Werkdirektor or Betriebdirektor). He was assisted in his tasks by the first secretary of the factory party organisation (Betriebsparteiorganisation) of the SED, and the chairman of the factory trade union (Betriebsgewerkschaftsleitung). Subordinate to them were roles such as "Chief Accountant" and "Technical Director".

VEBs were initially vertically integrated into units called Associations of Publicly Owned Operations (Vereinigung Volkseigener Betriebe) or VVBs. A VVB existed in most major industries, to consolidate production and reduce waste. They had all been replaced by 1979 with the VEB Kombinate, or VEB Group, which integrated the VEBs much more closely than the largely administrative VVBs. Under this system, the term 'Kombinate' was frequently dropped and the term "VEB" usually implied the group rather than the individual factory. The organisation of all state enterprises was the responsibility of the State Planning Commission.

VEBs often had company sports teams, and played an important role in the promotion of sports.

In 1989, VEBs employed 79.9% of the East German workforce. After German reunification and the introduction of the market economy in 1990, the ownership of around 8000 publicly owned operations passed to Treuhand; the trust agency which oversaw the privatisation of GDR state property.

An honorary name was frequently added to the firm's actual name, for example, VEB Kombinat Chemische Werke "Walter Ulbricht" Leuna. This was an incentive towards fulfillment and overfulfillment.

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