10 November 2009

'What lies ahead of us?'

Jane's diary: 10 November 1989 later in the day

Today the SED declared itself in favour of an electoral law with free and fair elections and secret ballots. How many more rabbits can be pulled out of the hat this week. Perhaps Krenz has won himself a little breathing space with these measures over the past two days. It looks as if the whole episode yesterday wasn't intended as freedom of movement - the new travel law was supposed to come into force on 1 December in time for Christmas. Schabowski actually said those wanting to leave the GDR could do so via the GDR border instead of via Czechoslovakia. But the people took the ruling into their own hands and basically flooded the wall. Utterly sensational.

For each day people spend in the west (currently 30) they are allowed to change 1 GDR Mark into 1 DM but otherwise the GDR currency is not convertible. That alone may persuade people to leave. Who knows. Racketeering is likely to grow particularly if there is a price reform. Who knows? Earlier in the week I felt instinctively that a price reform must come but surely not until after Christmas. Political suicide to do it before things are moving so fast who knows what will happen next.

Of course all this has caught the West utterly on the hop (the Russians too, I reckon). It was interesting that as the interviews progressed during the day people tried to be more sanguine and reflective. Not succeeding a lot mind you. There is appalling ignorance in Britain of the GDR political system and structure summed up by Sue McGregor's question (a British radio journalist) to Pfr. Seidel in Leipzig this morning, "Has your party - the LDPD - been legalised yet?". reply - "Yes since 1947". Similarly the woman on the "Any Questions" radio programme pronouncing, "East Germany doesn't have an opposition party". Still she is only a high ranking civil servant.

The assumption in all the reunification debate is that the problem is East Germany becoming part of NATO. The problem is of course the thousands of Soviet troops in the GDR (of course there are the western troops in the Federal Republic). Then to cap it all Manfred Woerner of NATO says of course NATO's existence isn't threatened by these changes. It has contributed to the stability and without it this change wouldn't have taken place. What nonsense!

10 November 1989, 23:30

The central committee has in fact today announced economic reform - more consumer goods, gradual removal of subsidies. But the financial news tonight is spreading doom and gloom - hyperinflation and problems of quality and motivation of workers looks more and more likely - quite apart from crisis in public health and transport. Is it all going to go BONG?? Dear God, what lies ahead of us ...???

I went to talk to Friedrich (Schorlemmer) when I knew the BBC were going to interview me. He's ill and looked pretty ropey. Bloody RIAS phoned him at 5am this morning 'unangemeldet' - without notice. We spoke of the whole guilt question. Suddenly everyone's pointing the finger at SED leaders as if no one else contributed to all the problems here, as if most of the population hadn't gone to the polls and voted for the SED lists last May.

And the role of the church now? Balance? Keeping the peace? Besonnenheit - trying to get people to stay calm? Friedrich spoke of the need for Klage and Anklage- I'm not quite sure I understand this - lamentation in Biblical terms from the depths of our hearts - like in Psalms? Also accusation coupled with Besonnenheit.

Also he's very concerned that the church should confront the whole Zweistaatlichkeit question (the issue of there being two German states). What Germany? Very important for the church to give a lead. However I reckon there are lots of different tendencies within the church and that there are going to be all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork. We'll see.

Kohl say Germany is now free - our free German fatherland - I find talk like this very disturbing.

Let's wait and see: the central committee proposes electoral reform, a new media law, freedom of assembly, and bringing the state under parliamentary control.

If the wall really goes maybe reunification will be the only way that this country will survive. My heart is with all this historical day stuff. What really lies ahead? Will we still be able to afford food in February? Now Thatcher is saying, "It's a great day for freedom". What an overused and abused word freedom is.


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