8
A New Germany

Germany. A former country in central Europe. (Random House Dictionary of the English Language ( 1967))

WITH the opening of the Wall, the GDR, as the world had known it, came to an end. Like the other events of 1989, which brought about the end of Communist rule in the satellite states of the Soviet Union, this one took both participants and observers by surprise. But the uncertainty took on a special dimension in the GDR. In Poland and Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania, the question about the future was straightforward: who would take power after the Communists had vacated it? It was the regime that was in question, not the nationstate over which it ruled. Poland would still be Poland and Hungary would still be Hungary. Only Czechoslovakia broke into two, without violence, and Yugoslavia with much bloodshed. But in both these cases the fragmentation was internal, with no outside power involved. The GDR was different. In the other satellite states the Soviet Union had imposed a regime; in Germany it had created a state. The GDR's raison d'être was the Soviet-style economic system; once that went, would there be any point in the state's survival? That was the question debated over the next year. The participants in the debate were, for the last time, the three parties that had combined to shape the fate of post-war Germany on every critical occasion: German politicians -- this time from the East as well as the West; the German population -- this time, too, from the East as well as the West; and the four victor powers.

To appreciate what the options were, we need to ask, however briefly, why the GDR collapsed. There were a number of necessary conditions, but none of them was, until 1989, sufficient to bring about the fall of the regime. The state lacked popular legitimacy; the antiFascist and Socialist idealism that stood by at its birth was exhausted; the economy was stagnating; freedom of speech and thought was

-155-

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German Politics, 1945-1995
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Chronology xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Unified, but not United 3
  • 3 - The Adenauer Era 51
  • 4 - The Second Foundation of the Federal Republic 71
  • 5 - The Other Germany 90
  • 6 - Ostpolitik 108
  • 7 - Modell Deutschland 129
  • 8 - A New Germany 155
  • Conclusion 183
  • Appendix I. Tables of Election Results 187
  • Appendix II. Figure of Economic Performance 189
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 190
  • Index 193
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