Susanne Kranz


Socialism Triumphs adorned the roof of the office equipment factory (BWS) in the Thuringian town of Sömmerda until 1990. The factory became a driving economic force in the GDR. The city, called “the capital of computers,” represents a unique case of urban development and governmental support, showcasing the state’s anticipated unity of economic and social policy. This article explores the everyday lives of women working in the factory (1946 and 1991) and examines the state-sanctioned women’s policies, how they were implemented and how women perceived these policies and the officially accomplished emancipation of men and women. Sömmerda had roughly 23,000 inhabitants in the 1980s of which 13,000 (nearly half of them women) worked in the BWS. This research relies on archival records and personal accounts by women who worked in the factory. These records shed light on and question the actually accomplished equality of the sexes that was so imperative in socialist state rhetoric.

Author Biography

Susanne Kranz is an Assistant Professor of History at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. She is a historian with a special interest in left-oriented activism, women and gender studies, and German and South Asian history. She is the author of Between Rhetoric and Activism: Marxism and Feminism in the Indian Women’s Movement (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2015).