The author experienced the end of our Nazi and wartime economy, which entailed such a profound change in all values and living conditions that today’s generation can have no idea of this.
But, as a visiting professor in Magdeburg and as a forest manager in Saxony-Anhalt, the author also directly and on site experienced the second end of a dictatorship, in the turnaround of 1989. In the summer of 1989, the former GDR was already showing signs of disintegration: People no longer trusted its political leadership. The old functionaries were apprehensive; they feared for their future and sought secure positions outside politics. The laws were no longer taken seriously, nor were the administrative bodies, which in their turn were also losing confidence. The Ostmark was depreciating, the call for freedom and change was growing ever stronger among the population. The political leadership still tried to suppress all this, if ever less confidently, by means of its old methods. Finally, it was no longer able to control the prayers for peace and the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig. Above all, however, the economy collapsed, as the functionaries Schalck and König had predicted as early as 1988.1 In particular, the experts reckoned the GDR’s solvency secure only until 1990 at the most, because “the annual under-fulfilment (of the plan) of between 1.4 and 5.1 billion ‘Verrechnungsmark’2 reduced export earnings by up to 25 %”, while the GDR’s growing indebtedness made “between 5 and 6 billion ‘Verrechnungsmark’ payments per year necessary for interest alone”. The authors pointed to the growing debt due to deficit-ridden foreign trade, substantiated this with figures, and concluded that solvency could no longer be guaranteed in 1990, that the planned increase in national income would not be possible and that the foreign trade over-indebtedness would also lead to internal consequences.
These predictions were correct. But they came true a year earlier than predicted, because the Soviet Union could not keep up with the arms race against the USA (having been “bled dry”) and partly stopped paying its suppliers in the satellite states, because Gorbachev’s “Perestroika” became more and more of a “catastroika” and because, as a result, the Soviet Union could no longer assert its leadership vis-à-vis its satellite states.
In the end, the German reunification brought about a currency reform in the East, the collapse of entire sectors of the economy, general impoverishment, a completely new economic system and also an over-heavy state and bureaucratic regulatory burden that the people in the East could not control, with all the Western laws, which had already partially stifled entrepreneurial activity in the West. In part, the success of a new economic start may only have been due to the fact that the administrations themselves were not able to master these new laws and could therefore not apply them.3
In spite of all this, the people in the former communist central administrative area in the East have survived this most profound change in all of their living conditions, but they are still very much aware of it. The end of an era and the turnaround are still in the minds of the East German population today; and have therefore in many cases imprinted different basic attitudes than those the “Wessis” (former citizens of the FRG) have – due to their different political experiences.
It is therefore no wonder that, in Eastern Germany, the old parties without alternatives are on the losing side and the new Alternative for Germany (AfD) is winning voters by relentlessly naming the signs of disintegration and Merkel’s mistakes.
In conversations with fellow East Germans, the author noted that:
A state that provides more for the EU, for the banks and for immigrants, but taxes, restricts, disciplines and exploits its own citizens ever more, inevitably loses the consent of these citizens and can only hope – as the Greens do – that those Germans who have lived in the country for a long time will soon be in the minority, also in regard to political influence.
If theoretically the middle class is the core force of every democratic freedom movement, of market economy and prosperity, these advantages are in any case still limited in the East for lack of a middle class. The Western middle classes (47%), on the other hand, seem to have been more corrupted and degenerated by prosperity than people in the East:
The warnings of an economist that never in history has a fun society survived, that the pursuit of ideological goals has always led to a loss of prosperity, that only morality and custom instead of pleasure, only decency instead of freedom of movement and family order instead of promiscuity have been organising principles of long-term societies, this is affirmed in the East, but predominantly denied in the West.
The feeling of the East Germans that we are once again heading for a dissolution, for an end of our social system, is a feeling from experience, that the West Germans do not have, that they will deny and bitterly regret when the current signs of dissolution of our Western society and economy come to a head in the impending crash.
In any case, it can be mathematically predicted that
1 König, Herta; Schalck, Alexander. “Geheimdokument an zur voraussichtlichen Entwicklung der Verschuldung der DDR” (Secret document for submission to the Chairman of the State Council on the expected development of the GDR’s indebtedness). In: Hamer, Eberhard. Ende – Wende – Wiederaufbau (End – Turnaround – Reconstruction), Mittelstandsinstitut Niedersachsen, 1993
2 Verrechnungsmark – here a currency for the transaction of business between FRG and GDR
3 This was the big difference to 1945, when all Nazi laws had been abolished and thus there was the greatest possible economic freedom. In the meantime, however, the West had spent more than 40 years building up the densest legal network in history, which brought stumbling blocks and obstacles to entrepreneurial activity everywhere.
4 Environmental, gender, diversity or social ideologes
5 The socialist ideologies as well as the nationalist ones and probably also “ecology instead of economy”.
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