From the Collapse of the Communist Regime to the Unification of Germany Part IV

An essential obstacle remained, that of the USSR. The traditional Soviet position, which insisted on the existence of two German states with two conflicting social and economic systems, rejected the BRD’s thesis of an open German question and denied any prospect of overcoming the division, since this could not have resulted except in the ‘”annexation of the GDR by the capitalist BRD and in the phasing out of the socialist order in other Eastern European countries” (Sovietskaja Rossija, 1985). This position was harshly reiterated again in 1987 in Moscow to Federal President R. von Weizsäcker and in 1988 to Chancellor Kohl: reopening the German question would have been “an incalculable and even dangerous undertaking”. Furthermore, Gorbachev had by now made it clear that he considered the fate of perestroika linked to the survival of the GDR. However, the unstoppable destabilization of the latter, in the context not only of the disintegration of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe, but also of the acceleration of the crisis within the USSR itself (dramatically accentuated by the events in the Caucasus and by the independence movement in the Baltic countries) led the leader to gradually abandon the traditional Soviet position, in favor of a vision formulated since April 1989 by the Institute for the Economy of the World Socialist System in Moscow, according to which only the overcoming of the division of the Germany ‘Europe. On February 10, 1990, at the conclusion of talks with Kohl and Genscher in Moscow, Gorbachev agreed that the decision on whether to unity or not be the “exclusive right of the German people”. However, there remained a significant obstacle: the international positioning of a united Germany. Here, the Atlantic option supported both by the US and by the federal government collided with the demands of neutrality or a ” singularized ” status, i.e. differentiated – by limitations – from ‘normal’ members of NATO. The solution advocated by Minister Genscher – that is, membership of Germany united to the Atlantic Pact, but no extension of NATO’s integrated military apparatus into the former DDR territory – outlined a meeting point between Atlantic interests, the security of Germany future, the tranquility of the neighboring countries, which preferred a Germany firmly embedded in European, Atlantic and international structures,  and the security needs of the USSR. On February 14, 1990 the “ 2 + 4 ” negotiation procedure was established, i.e. between the foreign ministers of the Four and those of the two German states on the international and security aspects of German unification, the results of which would be communicated to the CSCE.

After more than five decades of dictatorship, first Nazi then Communist, interrupted only by a couple of years of semi-liberty and semi-law after the end of the Second World War, the Germans in the GDR voted freely for the first time on 18 March 1990, electing the their Parliament, the Volkskammer (see table 3).

Everything had to be created in a few weeks, from the juridical rules to rudimentary party apparatuses, to the media. The SED-PDS was suffering, yes, a new strong hemorrhage, but, thanks to the choice of programmatic renewal and institutional continuity, it had preserved its huge assets and the control of many positions of power. The same parties of the former Block found themselves in a situation of insurmountable inferiority; while absolutely devoid of structures and means (from paper to telephones, to cars) were the new opposition forces. However, social democracy appeared to be a great favorite from the start (SDP: Sozial Demokratische Partei, then SPD: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands), not only because it was not compromised with the collapsed regime, but also because of its traditional strength in much of the territory of the GDR at the time of the Empire and the Weimar Republic. On the other hand, the situation is difficult and confusing in those sectors that are normally referred to as center and center-right: the parties of the former Block burdened the mortgage of a decades-long subjection to the SED.

In the conservative and Christian area, a series of small organizations formed the Deutsche Soziale Union (DSU) in Leipzig (January 20, 1990), soon supported by the Bavarian CSU. From the Bürgerrechtsbewegungen sizeable groups came off and identified themselves rather in the political models of the Federal Republic and in the forms of parliamentary party: this is the case of the Deutsche Forumspartei (DFP) which broke away from the NF, while the DA was transformed from a civic movement into an area party conservative-Christian (to later merge into the CDU). At the beginning of February an FDP-Est was born, in open contrast to the LDPD (Liberal-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands), for the past of Blockpartei that the latter had had.

According to Recipesinthebox, Christian Democrats and Western liberals found themselves in an embarrassing situation, placed as they were among their former Blockparteien counterparts, who alone had an apparatus but on which the past weighed heavily, and the new improvised formations, whose only strength was moral. CDU and FDP chose not to renounce the organizational contribution of the former and to enhance the moral credit of the latter, focusing on the latter also to stimulate the renewal process of their oriental counterparts. On the outskirts, however, the Blockparteien had offered a limited and precarious shelter to those who were not perfectly aligned with the regime, and the same membership in one of them, rather than in the SED, was already considered an indication of a possible frondic spirit.

From the Collapse of the Communist Regime to the Unification of Germany 4