In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2014. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 229–247.
The economic and financial relations between the Austrian and the East German communist parties during the Cold War have hitherto been overshadowed by lawsuits and myths. The most noted example is the “Novum”, a company run by Rudolfine Steindling with which the courts had to deal with for almost two decades. This article, which is based on unpublished sources from various Austrian and German archives, approaches this delicate topic by reconstructing the extent to which Austrian-East German economic relations were organized and instrumentalised by communist companies. Until the diplomatic recognition of the GDR in 1972, bilateral trade was almost completely monopolized by companies “secretly” run by the Austrian Communists. Thereafter the volume of trade grew and large-scale orders were placed in Austria. However, despite those deals being negotiated by top level politicians, they included significant kickbacks for communist companies. It is obvious that these enterprises were operating in favour of the Austrian and the East German Communists. In the case of the Austrian communists, those kickbacks played an essential role in keeping the small party solvent. On the other side, they contributed to sustaining the foreign exchange reserve of the GDR which was always low.