Why did Socialist Czechoslovakia's Economy perform worse than East Germany?

Czechoslovakia was one of the world's most industrialized nations in the interwar, with economic performance and standards of living that were on par with the Western European nations. At the beginning of the Cold War it continued to be the most economically developed and productive Eastern Bloc economy, but ultimately fell behind and East Germany is generally recognized as becoming the Eastern Bloc economy with the highest level of development, this despite East Germany starting out as a poor agrarian land. What made it so that Czechoslovakia didn't perform as well economically as East Germany and ultimately was industrially surpassed by East Germany? Was it just the special relationship and economic trade between East and West Germany?
 

SealTheRealDeal

Gone Fishin'
Czechoslovakia was one of the world's most industrialized nations in the interwar, with economic performance and standards of living that were on par with the Western European nations. At the beginning of the Cold War it continued to be the most economically developed and productive Eastern Bloc economy, but ultimately fell behind and East Germany is generally recognized as becoming the Eastern Bloc economy with the highest level of development, this despite East Germany starting out as a poor agrarian land. What made it so that Czechoslovakia didn't perform as well economically as East Germany and ultimately was industrially surpassed by East Germany? Was it just the special relationship and economic trade between East and West Germany?
I'm not too well read on the subject, but that contrast you drew might answer it right there. Eastern Bloc economic planning was centred on the output of heavy industries. Factory age is actually a pretty important factor in industrial productivity and growth potential. If most of Czechoslovakia's factories still date back to the Habsburg times, while most of East Germany's date back to only the 1950s, then that's actually a huge advantage for the East Germans.
 
Last edited:
I am not too well versed with the topic but as far as I know East Germany was the showpiece that Russia wanted the world to see and acknowledge communist method of development. This was to counter West Germany's capitalist approach and criticise it. So a lot of capital flowed into East Germany for achieving it that Czechoslovakia couldn't possibly compare with.

Please let me know if I was wrong in any way.
 
AFAIK a large amount Czechoslovak industry was concentrated in the Sudetenland, the expulsion of the Germans probably caused significant long term damage to human resources and institutionalized knowledge while directly transferring part of that loss to the GDR (although most Germans went to the West, a significant number went to the East as well).

Losing a quarter of it's population obviously had an economic impact.
 
East Germany was not a poor agrarian land. Thuringia and Saxony used to even called the industrial heartland once.
East Berlin had quite a bit of industry as well.
Mecklenburg was always a bit behind, even Friedrich the Great used to joke that if the world was going to end, he would move there, because everything happens 10 years later in Mecklenburg. But that is another story.
 
despite East Germany starting out as a poor agrarian land. What made it so that Czechoslovakia didn't perform as well economically as East Germany and ultimately was industrially surpassed by East Germany? Was it just the special relationship and economic trade between East and West Germany?

Uhm, I think you migth be victim to a misconception. East Germany wasn't a poor agrarian land. While Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg were mostly agrarian and rural the area that is now Thuringia and Saxony was extremly industrialized. Pre WWII Saxony was even one of themost industrailized and densly popluated areas in all of Germany. A lot of that industry was destroyed during the war or dismantled by the Soviets as reparations afterwards. But the workers and the people who build that were still there. Not everybody was willing to flee to the west so they rebuild the areas that had already been economic centers before the war. The same goes for East Berlin.



Another factor was the availability of funds from the west. Due to the West Berlin and the question of cooperation with west Germany the GDR was able to aquire techonology and money which many other Warsaw Pact states didn't have access to.
 
East Germany did not start out poor, the pre-war per capita GDP for the regions that would later comprise the DDR was in fact slightly higher than for the West IIRC.
 
AFAIK a large amount Czechoslovak industry was concentrated in the Sudetenland, the expulsion of the Germans probably caused significant long term damage to human resources and institutionalized knowledge while directly transferring part of that loss to the GDR (although most Germans went to the West, a significant number went to the East as well).

Losing a quarter of it's population obviously had an economic impact.
To my knowledge that was mostly light industry and the Sudetenland was the poorest part of Czechoslovakia, its population had a much higher proportion of illiterates and was mostly poor farmers and some miners compared to the industrialized Czech core.

Uhm, I think you migth be victim to a misconception. East Germany wasn't a poor agrarian land. While Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg were mostly agrarian and rural the area that is now Thuringia and Saxony was extremly industrialized. Pre WWII Saxony was even one of themost industrailized and densly popluated areas in all of Germany. A lot of that industry was destroyed during the war or dismantled by the Soviets as reparations afterwards. But the workers and the people who build that were still there. Not everybody was willing to flee to the west so they rebuild the areas that had already been economic centers before the war. The same goes for East Berlin.



Another factor was the availability of funds from the west. Due to the West Berlin and the question of cooperation with west Germany the GDR was able to aquire techonology and money which many other Warsaw Pact states didn't have access to.
That seems to be population density and not industrialization, I was under the impression that the Rhineland and Silesia were the most industrialized zones.
 
Didn't Skoda do pretty good during communist time? There's certainly no East German corporation with such a huge portfolio and such a long history.
 
tbf, mega-corporations originally founded by the nobility of an absolute monarchy probably aren't too common in socialist states.
Most of the German industry too originated from government contracts back in the days of the old monarchies, it wasn't some libertarian paradise there.

Of the East German automotive industry nothing remained, but Skoda is still making cars (and more), so the Czechoslovak system did seem to have its merits.
 
Last edited:
That seems to be population density and not industrialization, I was under the impression that the Rhineland and Silesia were the most industrialized zones.

Population density is often an indicator for industrial and economic development.

As you can see in the following map, Saxony was a center for heavy industries.



2A09B961-05A4-4878-97A9-4B0511CFBA25.jpeg
 

Deleted member 1487

East Germany was not a poor agrarian land. Thuringia and Saxony used to even called the industrial heartland once.
East Berlin had quite a bit of industry as well.
Mecklenburg was always a bit behind, even Friedrich the Great used to joke that if the world was going to end, he would move there, because everything happens 10 years later in Mecklenburg. But that is another story.
That was before the bombing, Soviet looting, and paying reparations into the 1950s to the USSR. Berlin has never really recovered it's industry from the division and war. Don't forge too that something like 2 million Germans, the youngest and most motivated, fled the country until the Berlin Wall was built. East Germany started with 18 million people in 1950, but had fallen to 17 million by 1961 and was down to 16 million by 1990!

Still, the DDR's population was quite a bit larger as was their territory, as the Czechoslovaks had about 9.5 million people in 1960. So about 55% or so of the DDR. By the 1980s they closed the gap however and had 15.5 million people in 1986.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Czechoslovakia was one of the world's most industrialized nations in the interwar, with economic performance and standards of living that were on par with the Western European nations. At the beginning of the Cold War it continued to be the most economically developed and productive Eastern Bloc economy, but ultimately fell behind and East Germany is generally recognized as becoming the Eastern Bloc economy with the highest level of development, this despite East Germany starting out as a poor agrarian land. What made it so that Czechoslovakia didn't perform as well economically as East Germany and ultimately was industrially surpassed by East Germany? Was it just the special relationship and economic trade between East and West Germany?
Slovakia was agrarian and totally devastated during 1944/45. Whatever industry there was was destroyed either by Germans during evacuation, American bombing campaign or destroyed in fighting. Industry there had to be completely rebuilt and was expanded. And let’s be honest educated population was missing in rural Slovakia. Prewar Czechoslovakia but also war time Slovak republic had some advances on that field but there was more needed. So higher level of education could pull East Germans to perform bit better.
But let’s be honest, their cars sucked. 😂
 
Ultimately the East German government was borrowing so much that it ended up borrowing money to pay the interest on its previous debt. That is largely illusory growth. The Czechoslovakian regime pre 1989 appears to have been slightly less delusional.
Or, put it in terms of personal economy, if I take out two or three additional mortgages on the house, max out all my credit cards,cash in my pension and life insurance, I can probably outspend you for ten years but the overall health of our financial conditions would be significantly in your favour.
 
Didn't Skoda do pretty good during communist time? There's certainly no East German corporation with such a huge portfolio and such a long history.

Skoda was infamous for being the worst car in the world, and that was at a time where Yugos was also sold on western markets.
 
Most of the German industry too originated from government contracts back in the days of the old monarchies, it wasn't some libertarian paradise there.

Of the East German automotive industry nothing remained, but Skoda is still making cars (and more), so the Czechoslovak system did seem to have its merits.

No Skoda isn’t making cars, VW is making cars with the Skoda name.
 

Thomas1195

Banned
Prewar Czechoslovakia but also war time Slovak republic had some advances on that field but there was more needed. So higher level of education could pull East Germans to perform bit better.
Still, prewar Czechoslovakia was the 10th industrial producer in the world - with similar GDP per capita to Austria but higher industrial development. You can say it was the third most developed small country in Europe, behind the Benelux. Communist rule really really derailed the nation.
 
Top