A "Site of Surveillance": East German Retail in the Konsum

Mark Andrew McCulloch


This paper examines the transformation of Germany’s co-operative movement into the Union of the Consumer Co-operatives of East Germany (Konsum) in the communist period. This transformation illuminates the process by which the East German co-operative movement became subordinate to the Socialist Unity Party.  The state-decreed creation of co-operatives in the German Democratic Republic led to a highly centralized distribution system of rationed goods with the purpose of eliminating non-state-controlled retail.  In effect, the Socialist Unity Party hijacked, or “democratically centralized,” the Konsum, turning it into a site of surveillance.


Konsum; Co-operative; East Germany; DDR;

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