Next Sunday, 6 October, the Democratic Republic of Germany celebrates its 25th anniversary. Parades, marches?
Next Sunday, 6 October, the Democratic Republic of Germany celebrates its 25th anniversary. Parades, marches and festivals will commemorate an quarter of a century of continual labour which has enabled it to claim an important place in the establishment of Eastern Europe.
But, in 25 years, East Germany had changed little. Its birth was announced by the Soviet Union four years after the end of the Second World War and after Russia had won the race for the control of a large sector of what had been Hitler's Reich, establishing a government in the Soviet Zone of Berlin. East Germany, however, did not become an independent state until 1956 although East German leaders -- like Walter Ulbricht -- remained committed to Soviet policy.
But not all was calm -- and many East Germans did not subscribe to the Communist view. Week by week, hundreds of them flocked across the borders to West Germany, where the economic miracle had created a rich and glittering lifestyle. West Berlin, in particular, proved an alluring beacon, luring the Democratic Republic's citizens.
By 1961, the East Germane, under Soviet guidance, erected the Berlin wall and extended that to reach across the whole of Germany -- effectively sealing East from West.
The seal remained effective, and contact between the two Germanies was conducted only through accusation and recrimination until 1971, when West German Chancellor Willy Brandt began to put practical expression to his 'ostpolitik' (Eastern Policy) and began forging links between the two countries. Brandt visited East Germany in that year, and the visit was followed by long and intricate negotiations which (in themselves) merely evolved an agreement to disagree.
Today, 25 years after its formation, East Germany has achieved some kind of economic miracle of its own. This is a nation without unemployment, where prices have remained stable for 20 years, where inflation is nil, where industrial growth has been steady, where there are no strikes, no balance of payments problems, no real poverty and no real riches.