National Geographic : 1970 Jan
Dynamic young Alfred Dellheim rose from mechanic to manager, exhibiting the energy typical of today's young German executives. A member of the Communist elite, he directs the Berlin Machine and Tool Company, largest in East Germany, and earns $625 a month. In per capita production, East Germany ranks second only to the Soviet Union in the Red bloc. On his last day before retirement, a 65-year-old lathe technician at the factory works diligently until quitting time. Then his friends toast him with cognac and present gifts of fruit and flowers. His state pension of $37.50 monthly will cover most expenses; rent, for ex ample, runs as low as $5 a month. EKTACHROME (ABOVE)ANDKODACHROME© N.G.S. If I do, I shall probably modify them and add good steel where needed. I would then end up with excellent machines." He told me of other Japanese businessmen in East Germany, selling computers. "Make no mistake about it, the East Ger mans, whatever the political price, are man aging a very rational economy. To run it, they need sophisticated calculating and automated machinery invented, built, and sold by the West. The Russians cannot help them much; they are busy trying to help themselves. But Sweden and Japan and other countries can help them. Whether this will lead eventually to a political change, a mere businessman cannot know." Casual Companions a la Carte My dinner table kept providing such fare. I was joined once by a young chemist from Magdeburg, on his way to Moscow to negoti ate a trade agreement for his employer, the state-owned Magdeburg Plastics Factory. "Almost 90 percent of what my plant makes goes to Russia," he said. "And in return we receive credits. With the credits we buy Volga automobiles, crude oil, tungsten, iron, coal, other raw materials. You realize that when East Germany was formed, it had nothing but manpower. With no Ruhr or Saar to give us coal or steel, we had to rely on the skills of our people. We had to build our economy from the ground up, and that gives a person pride, whatever his political beliefs. Are you on your way to Moscow, too?"