I had always been under the impression that real estate and sizable businesses were all nationalized during the Cold War Years in East Germany. I have some sheet music from the early fifties which is copyrighted to a “VEB” (government owned) publishing house. I’ve been reading fiction by Christoph Hein, who lived and wrote in East Germany, and whose stories are mostly set there, and some of the fictional (albeit, I suspect, autobiographical in some cases) events and situations bear this out. In one novel*, the protagonist’s grandfather is a farm manager for a collective, near the Baltic Sea, but gets fired for political unreliability. His replacement is someone who probably never saw a farm in his life. In the same story, though, another neighbor is mentioned as the owner of a factory.
In another novel**, the protagonist’s father talks of selling his farm and moving to the city, and later asks his son to take over. Clearly in this case the farm is owned by the farmer, who can talk of selling or bequeathing it just as one would do in a capitalist country.
So my question is: during those years, what was the extent of such private ownership? Was any seizure of land pretty much limited to the large estates owned by members of the former nobility, and those who were similarly well off? And were the owners of single family houses and small rental properties left alone, or did these people have reason to worry about some forced takeover down the road?
*Alles Vom Anfang An “Everything From The Beginning”
**Der Tangospieler “The Tango Player”
(I give the German titles and their literal translations. I don’t know what the published translations were actually called, or if there even were any.)