The Dream That Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union

By Walter Laqueur | Go to book overview

9
East Germany: A Case Study

The downfall of the East German regime and reunification came as an enormous surprise to most politicians, political commentators in West and East, and, not least, the experts among them. True, strong doubts about an impending radical change had also been voiced by Western diplomats in Prague only a few weeks prior to the "velvet revolution." But in the case of East Germany, there was near unanimity. Honecker had been the best pupil in the Communist master class. The German Democratic Republic ( DDR) had been a showcase, -- nowhere had Communism been as successful and its achievements as striking. As Egon Bahr, one of the leading Social Democratic authorities on things German, had said in December 1988: "The old idea that there could be no peace in Europe as long as Germany was divided was fundamentally wrong, based in part on selfdelusion, in part on fraud. To deny the partition was leading to nowhere, whereas there was promise in accepting it." 1

In retrospect, the rootedness and popularity of the regime were not above suspicion. Its relative prosperity depended to a considerable degree on credits and other assistance given by Bonn. The East German intelligentsia and artists had been largely alienated-many had moved to the West, and even the achievements in sports had a great deal to do with the systematic use of anabolic steroids. Above all, what was going to be East Germany's fate at a time when its chief protector was showing signs of weakness? Against this fear, it was argued that Germany was not Poland, where Communism's feet of clay had appeared ten years earlier. The self-confidence, even arrogance of the East German leadership seemed unbroken.

-163-

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The Dream That Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents *
  • 1 - The Age of Enthusiasm 3
  • 2 - 1917: The Russia We Lost? 28
  • 3 - The Fall of the Soviet Union 50
  • 4 - Totalitarianism 77
  • 5 - Sovietology: An Epitaph (I) 96
  • 6 - Sovietology: An Epitaph (II) 110
  • 7 - How Many Victims? 131
  • 8 - The Nationalist Revival 147
  • 9 - East Germany: A Case Study 163
  • 10 - Conclusion 183
  • Notes 195
  • Index 227
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