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Volkseigener Betrieb

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Full logo of the VEB.

The Publicly Owned Enterprise (German: Volkseigener Betrieb; abbreviated VEB) was the main legal form of industrial enterprise in East Germany. These state-owned enterprise 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 Soviet Union as reparations.[citation needed]

The managing director of a VEB was called a plant or works manager (German: Werksleiter, Werksdirektor or Betriebsdirektor). They were assisted 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 Enterprises (Vereinigung Volkseigener Betriebe, 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 They had all been replaced by 1979 with the VEB Kombinate, or VEB Group, which integrated the VEBs much more closely than the largely administrative VVBs.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 8,000 publicly owned enterprises passed to Treuhand, the trust agency which oversaw the privatization 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 a socialist emulation incentive towards fulfillment and overfulfillment of production quotas. Many Germans, as a form of mild protest against the nationalization of private businesses, nicknamed the VEBs Vatis ehemaliger Betrieb, which translates to "Daddy's former business".[1]


See also[edit]



  • Pilleul-Arp, Agnès (2005). ""VEB-GmbH": "Vatis ehemaliger Betrieb — geklaut mit besonderer Höflichkeit". Klein- und Mittelunternehmer in der DDR: Lebensläufe zwischen 1949 und 1990 im Vergleich" ["Father's old business - very politely stolen". Small and mid-sized entrepreneurs in East Germany: comparative life stories from 1949 until 1990]. Historical Social Research (in German). 30 (2 (112), "Entrepreneurs and Managers in Socialism"). Köln, Germany: GESIS - Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences, Center for Historical Social Research: 160–180. JSTOR 20762038.
  • Hinterthür, Bettina (2006). "Die Trennung von Verlag und Druckerei und die Folgen im Musikverlag" [The separation of publisher and printer and the consequences for music publication]. Noten nach Plan: die Musikverlage in der SBZ/DDR – Zensursystem, zentrale Planwirtschaft und deutsch-deutsche Beziehungen bis Anfang der 1960er Jahre. Beiträge zur Unternehmensgeschichte (in German). Vol. 23. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 302–307. ISBN 9783515088374. ISSN 1433-8645.