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

Economic unification was central, with the prompt introduction of the BRD currency in the GDR (a promise that had been one of the strengths of the March 18 election campaign). On May 18, 1990, the Treaty on Monetary, Economic and Social Union (WWSU) was signed and entered into force on the following July 2. The treaty established the introduction of the western mark, with a much higher exchange rate than the value of the DDR mark (1: 1 for salaries, pensions, etc., and for a large part of private savings; 2: 1 for the rest) and designated the Federal Bank as the only issuing bank; it set the BRD subsidies to the GDR budget at 23 billion for 1990 and 35 for 1991, setting a limit on the debt of the latter; defined the constituent elements of the market economy as the basis of economic union, providing for the creation of a complex social security system (among other measures, the introduction of unemployment insurance) always in correspondence with the BRD institutions. In May it was also decided to create a special fund “German Unity”, outside the federal budget, of 115 billion DM, 95 of which to be financed by loans.

The rapid monetary union had actually been the subject of controversy in the Federal Republic. The initial perplexities of the Federal Bank in the name of the political objective returned, the emotion of the opening of the wall and then, at Christmas, of the Brandenburg Gate, there was a widespread fear for the stability of the currency and generally due to the possible economic and social costs of unification. This same issue had been at the center of the opposition to the treaty manifested by Lafontaine, the future Social Democratic candidate for the chancellery of the SPD, but who nevertheless, at the end of a tenacious battle, resulted in a minority position in the party. The treaty was approved by the Bundestag with a large majority, with the opposition of the Greens and about twenty Social Democrats.

According to Themotorcyclers, the sudden and concrete reappearance of the German question had in fact surprised not only the foreign powers, but also – and no less strongly – the Germans themselves: for a long time it had seemed theoretical; in the best of cases, even for those who, like Schmidt himself, were not resigned to considering the division definitive, its overcoming was the object of distant hope (“perhaps only in the 21stcentury, “he said in 1979). The national question had been largely removed and often the reality of the GDR was presented in an apologetic manner. The precipitate of events revealed the existence, in public opinion and in the political class, of deeply divergent attitudes. A decisive commitment to unification was matched by indifference and distrust, up to open opposition from the ultra-left and the Greens (at whose congress the cry “Germany, never again” was raised); among the forces of the extreme left, placed between the left SPD and the communists, there were those who had lost the great financier of the East (DKP: Deutsche Kommunistische Partei, and supporters) and who hope for a ” socialist ” alternative to the ” capitalist ” Federal Republic. The SPD was clearly split between the ” national ” line of Brandt and the group leader H.-J. Vogel, and the reticent attitude of Lafontaine. The latter, who first became the interpreter of indifference, then of the fear of sacrifices widespread in the West, had finally set up the electoral campaign with the aim of denying the bet of the federal government to bring the former GDR to a rapid economic recovery, without asking for sacrifices to the taxpayer in the BRD. The liberals, on the other hand, were particularly determined in asking for the acceleration of the unification process. who were also the first to merge with their counterparts in the East into a single German Liberal Party (August 1989). The differences in public opinion, however, were not only of ideological origin, but also of generational and geographical origin, as it would have shown for example. the debate around the reinstatement of Berlin as the capital of the united Kingdom, according to the solemn and reiterated promise for four decades. In fact, the most varied oppositions had arisen: on the part of those who feared a restoration of the Germany Bismarckiana; of those who feared the economic costs of transferring the capital; from the lobbies in defense of the regional interests of Rhineland-Westphalia; of environments still sensitive to the appeal of old anti-Prussian resentments, of a particularistic and confessional (Rhenish or Bavarian) mold; finally of those who preferred to keep the capital on the Rhine as a symbol of the unchanged validity of the internal and international choices of the Bonn democracy.

At the same time, the work of federal diplomacy was by now proceeding in close harmony, especially with that of the United States. Under the direction of Genscher, she urged to provide a maximum of information and consultation both in the Community and in the Atlantic, as well as to reassure the neighboring countries of the East, it worked to define the international framework of the unification process. On May 5, the “2 + 4” talks began. The delicate problem of the definitive recognition of the Polish border was eliminated thanks to two solemn resolutions of the German parliaments, as an anticipation of the future treaty.

From the Collapse of the Communist Regime to the Unification of Germany 6