19 May 2009

What was the GDR?

A week before Germany elects a new president, the Social Democratic Party's candidate Gesine Schwan has stirred up a hornets nest by refusing to describe the German Democratic Republic as an "unjust" state, as this would imply that, as Der Spiegel reports on its English-language site, "everything that happened in that state was unjust. I wouldn't go that far when it comes to East Germany." Der Speigel notes that the suspicion is that Schwan is making a bid for votes from the left-wing Die Linke party, which was formed by a union of dissident Social Democrats from the West and the Party of Democratic Socialism from the East (which itself is descended from the former East German ruling Socialist Unity Party). But now some of her SPD allies are considering not voting for her in the Parliamentary Assembly that choses the president. SPD Stephan Hilsberg (one of the small group of people who founded the Social Democratic Party in East Germany in autumn 1989) says he is reconsidering who he will vote for as Schwan's remarks seem like making the GDR seem less awful gthan it really was.


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