Saturday, November 30, 2019

EAST GERMANY - History of an Annexation-

EAST GERMANY - History of an Annexation- (information taken from article of the same name, Monde Diplomatique, November 2019)

East Germans had little interest in joining West Germany or in re-establishing corporate capitalism. According to a poll taken on December 1989, 71% of East Germans were not seeking unification with West Germany but democracy. As one pastor, an activist in the pro-democracy movement stated, “We 'other Germans' have a responsibility to show that real socialism is possible.” Dissident writer Christa Wolf had a similar viewpoint, “We have the possibility of developing an alternative socialism.” At the round table discussion set up on December 7 1989, a meeting uniting both the democratic opposition and traditional political parties agreed on the necessity of preserving the East German state and sketched out a design for a democratic and ecological socialism.

At the same time, those in charge of West Germany had different plans, “launch (ing) an electoral conquest of the neighboring country,” which led to the liquidation of its economy and institutions. Meanwhile in E. Germany political parties had formed and an election called. The E.German Social Democratic Party (SD) – which favoured the round table report was well in advance in the polls compared with the new E.German Christian Democrats (CD). What happened next was what SD leader Egon Bahr called “...the dirtiest election I had ever seen in my life.” W. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl talked up the possibility of a monetary union. East Germans were to get a very good exchange rate for their old money. The CD won the election by a wide margin.
The election in the bag, the W. German government used an obscure law from 1957 which had allowed the Saar to become part of W. Germany. In other words, the East was annexed outright. Cheap products flooded in from the West causing the collapse of many Eastern businesses – the entire economy them went into contraction. Industrial production fell by 70% and 1.4 million Easterners were without jobs by 1991. The West refused any counter-measures to help the people.
What they did do, however, was to create “Treuhand”, an intitution set up to seize and privatize the East German economy and real estate. This task was completed by 1994, 2.5 million jobs were destroyed and the total losses were M256 billion – out of a previous M600 billion worth of industry and property. 85% of the privatized wealth went to West German companies. 80% of the work force faced temporary or permanent unemployment.

But the workers did not take this lying down – there were a number of huge factory occupations and in March 1991, 60,000 workers answered the call of the IG Metal union, the Evangelical Church and the former dissident groups in a demonstration against the ruin of their economy. All groups involved were plain that their demand had been for democracy and not a neoliberal economy. Economic ruin was not the only result of this neoliberal “shock doctrine.” Free cultural activities, kindergartens, free higher education and day care were abolished. As well as “structural” unemployment there was also a vast purge of East German society – a million government employees and 70,000 teachers were forced from their jobs.

As for Treuhand, it was no secret that one of the reasons it was set up was to prevent possible competition from East German business.

My Thoughts – Since about 30% of East Germans – according to the 1989 survey – neither wished to maintain that state nor develop democratic socialism, we might assume they preferred western consumerism. This did not occur, and one can imagine the bitterness. This group may well be the one most attracted to immigrant-scapegoating and far-right forces like Alternative for Germany.
The mass unemployment and cut-backs of social services would have had an effect upon mortality rates. The neoliberal shock doctrine would have killed thousands, since mass unemployment can cause heart attacks, strokes, substance abuse, and suicide. Those responsible for the imposition of this doctrine ought to be charged with mass murder.
The desire to replace Stalinism with democratic socialism or social democracy may well have been universal with the populations of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. The neoliberals in charge of the West would have seen this as a threat to their plans to grind down their own populations. A social democratic East would have encouraged the Western social democrats and perhaps dissuaded them from adopting the neoliberal dogma, which they were beginning to do at this time. Hence the need to impose the shock doctrine, not just to steal the wealth of those countries, but also to prevent the possibility of social reform anywhere else.
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