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Foundation Archives of Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR in the Federal Archives (SAPMO)

SAPMO provides access to archives, created by parties and organisations controlling state and society of the GDR. Most of the documents were strictly secret before 1990 and are now open for consultation with the exception of personal information. Since 2005 the holdings guide and a constantly growing number of online finding aids are available for cross search in ARGUS. Since 2008 increasing amounts of digital reproductions are integrated. Together with the archives the holdings of 30 libraries have been taken over from former GDR parties and organisations. They are available for consultation on site in a special reading room or for lending and interlibrary loan.


The archives include records from the Politbüro of the former SED and of the offices of individual functionaries responsible for specific matters. They contain documents of the Central Committee with its departments and educational institutions from 1946 to 1990. Together with the party archives of the SED the archives of the KPD, dating back to its foundation in 1919 and including documents of its clandestine activities in the Federal Republic until 1971 were transferred to SAPMO. They contain furthermore the archives of the central and industrial unions, were documents concerning social insurance and the central vacation service can be found. Many more archives from mass organisations like the Kulturbund (Cultural Association), the FDJ (Free German Youth) with the Pionierorganisation “Ernst Thälmann” (children’s organisation) and the GDSF (Society for German Soviet Friendship) are available here.

The archives created by the regional and local units of parties and mass organisations are part of the holdings of the state archives of the Länder. They can be searched together in the union finding aid of the central access point Netzwerk SED-/FDGB-Archivgut (Network SED and FDGB Archives).


The research library is at the same time the service library for the departments of the Bundesarchiv in Berlin-Lichterfelde (German Reich, GDR state agencies, SAPMO) and acts as professional centre of the Federal Archives library. Its online catalogue is integrated into the union catalogue of the Kooperativer Bibliotheksverbund (Cooperative Library Association - KOBV) of Berlin-Brandenburg.

About 1.7 million books in the Foundation are available, including a great deal of grey literature from the GDR parties and mass organisations. The official gazettes of the agencies, associations, and organisations of the German Reich and the GDR as well as comprehensive collections of research literature and other publications about these and related subjects are kept here.

Acquisition priorities focus on literature about and originating from the GDR and Germany before 1945, as well as publications concerning the history of the former socialist states, the international workers and union movements, individual parties, unions, organisations and political groups from the middle of the 19th Century to the present times. The collections are supplemented by deposit copies of publications compiled by users of the holdings of the Federal Archives.