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Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 85 (March 1947)

German reactions,   pp. 24-26 PDF (1.6 MB)


Page 25

CONSUMER COOPERATIVES (Continued from page 9)
in England in 1844. Membership was open
to all; each member had one vote - and only
one vote -  regardless of the number of
shares that he owned; merchandise was sold
at market prices; the return on a member's
stock investment was limited to prevailing
legal rates; and net profits were distributed
among members in proportion to their pur-
chases. Education in the aims and objectives
of consumer cooperatives was stressed and
training schools for store executives and
employees were maintained.   Their edu-
cational and social activities were not as
extensive, however, as in the societies in
Great Britain.
The consumer cooperative movement in
Germany prior to the assumption of power
by the Nazis was second only to that in
Great Britain in importance.   Members
belonged to local societies which owned and
operated the stores and these organizations
were, in turn, grouped into local associations.
Approximately 65 percent of these associa-
tions belonged either to the Hamburg or
Cologne  federation.  Complete  data  are
available only on the membership of these
two federations.
COMPOSITION OF MEMBERSHIP
Workers and employees in industry made
up approximately 70 percent of the member-
ship in the Hamburg association and 50 per-
cent in the Cologne association. 'Most of
these were also members of the trade unions;
those in the Hamburg group belonged to the
Free Trade Unions and those in Cologne to
the Christian Trade Unions. The next largest
group, professional men and government
employees, accounted for 9 percent of the
membership in the former association and 31
percent in the latter. Neutrality was main-
tained, at least officially, in religious and
political matters.
In 1931, there were 13,575 cooperative
stores with a total membership of ap-
proximately 3,750,000 families in these two
central associations. It is estimated that the
stores served 24 percent of the people in
Germany and transacted around five percent
of the retail trade. Their total combined
sales were over RM    1,000,000,000. The
major part of their sales were in food prod-
ucts, although household goods and cloth-
ing were carried by some of the stores.
The Central Union of Consumers' Societies
(Zentralverband deutscher Konsumvereine) at
Hamburg was the stronger of the two federa-
tions and was the third largest cooperative
group in Europe. In 1932, it had 949 local
associations as members and the sales of the
retail stores in the group amounted to nearly
RM 945 million. The National Union of
Consumers' Societies (Reichsverband deut-
scher Konsumvereine) in Cologne reported
263 member associations, whose total sales
volume was over RM 180,000,000 in 1931.
MULTIPLE OPERATIONS
Societies belonging to both central organ-
izations operated their own wholesales,
which engaged in manufacturing activities
and sold goods under their own private
brand names, the "GEG" label being used by
the Hamburg group and the "GEPAG" label
by the Cologne organization. For example,
the Cooperative Wholesale Society at Ham-
burg in 1932 had two fish canneries, eight
meat-products plants, four flour mills, two
macaroni factories, two mills making malt-
coffee, seven tobacco factories, two soap
factories, two match factories, and two cloth-
ing factories. It also produced or packed
vegetables and food preserves, cocoa and
chocolate, chemicals, cheese, textiles, and
lumber. It operated a large farm, a weaving
and dyeing shed for cloth, and a stationery
and printing plant. It produced approxi-
mately 40 percent of the merchandise it sold
to its consumer societies. The manufacturing
activities of the wholesale purchasing organ-
izatiion at Cologne were not so extensive.
Some of the retail associations belonging to
these two central groups were also engaged
in manufacturing activities, with meat and
bakery goods the most important products.
Most of the consumer societies operated sav-


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