Between Gloom and Transfiguration: Analysis of Petitions conducted by the Ministry of Health of the GDR as a Historical Source for the Description of the Main Problems and the Strategies to handle Problems in the GDR Health Care SystemMedizinhist J 2016; 51(4):327-63MJ
Due to its outstanding political significance the GDR dedicated extraordinary attention to their health care system. By the help of analyses of petitions (complaints and hints) of the citizens conducted by the Ministry of Health of the GDR it is possible to gain a survey about the critiques and expectations in this field that were submitted to the GDR authorities. They form a comprehensive and significant source for the understanding of the GDR health care system, individual and social values as well as institutional reactions and strategies to handle problems. Surprisingly, critiques about the behaviour of the medical staff ranked almost equally to complaints about material deficits. Based on an elaborate system of evaluation these petitions served as an instrument of citizens of "direct democracy" that caused critical reflection of the government and influenced its perception and action. On the other hand the critique concerning the health care system individualized the protests, prevented a collective movement and generally only caused corrections of details.