Dismantling the East German State West German Managers Move in as Thousands of Soldiers, Civil Servants Expect to Lose Posts

Article excerpt

AT 12:01 a.m. today, West German Lt. Gen. Jorg Schonbohm took command of Territorial Force East, the remnants of the East German armed forces.

A few hours later, legions of West German civil servants took up key positions in the former East German political bureaucracy. Many East German government offices were simply shut down - made redundant or obsolete by the overnight merger of the two German states.

From Rostock to Dresden, German unity will bring dramatic, and often difficult adjustments.

West German experts will move quickly to dismantle the bureaucratic vestiges of more than four decades of communist rule. For the military, unity will mean trimming the number of East German troops dramatically and re-training those who remain in a newly integrated German Army.

A vast army of civil servants will also come to an end. Reunification will mean layoffs for 200,000 federal bureaucrats in East Berlin alone. Although a clearinghouse has been set up to review state jobs on an individual basis, officials estimate that between 650,000 and 1 million civil servants employed by the ousted communist regime will lose their jobs permanently.

The number also includes 1,700 East German judges who will be replaced, at least for a time, by West Germans. In a process resembling the rehabilitation of Nazi judges, past rulings and sentences will be scrutinized for human rights violations. Judges and other bureaucrats who emerge from the reviews untainted can expect to invest years in retraining to bring their professional competence up to western levels.

"Our judges are facing a complete overhaul of their pasts," says Gunter Waldmann, a court administrator in East Berlin.

Despite today's declaration of unity, what was once East Germany will essentially remain a frontier territory for a time.

The pace of German unity simply overtook political and legal restructuring in East Germany. Until East Germans elect the first governments of five new federal states on Oct. 14, much of eastern Germany will be ruled by inexperienced local governments, first seated in May, and a patchwork legislature far away in Bonn. East Germany's People's Chamber dissolves today, but 144 of its deputies will join the West German Parliament in Bonn until national elections in December. …