Full Citation

  • Title One Vision: One Germany
  • Author Ellis, Walter
  • Publication Title The Sunday Times
  • Collection The Sunday Times Digital Archive, 1822-2006
  • Date Sunday,  Nov. 12, 1989
  • Issue Number 8622
  • Page Number 16
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
- . ¦ . •¦ ._¦ r t r ™ ^ ^ ^ -. " : ; -:. '£':- >:: 54£ ":¦:-.: ir^rivi-SilSSSSSSSS EOTiFREEIMM — — —~^^—^—^^ • Helmut Koht stands on the threshoia or nistory ana iooks rorwara with awe. The occasion demands statesmanship , drive and imagination , if he is equal to the challenge, he could become the first chancellor of a unified Germany since Hitler , writes WALTER ELLIS _ THE surprise could scarcely have been greater had Joshua blown bis trumpet The Berlin Wall, symbol for 28 years of communist intransigence, breached with the stroke of a pen. For West Germany and its bluff, slightly awkward chancellor, Helmut Kohl, the astonishing events of the last week — culminating in the emotional celebra - tions in Berlin — represent the opportunity of a life - time . Kohl, who has led the Christian Democrat party (CDU) without particular distinction since the mid - 1970 s, has at last been given the chance to step out of the shadow of his Social Democrat predecessor, Hel - mut Schmidt. Intellectually haughty, Schmidt is confined in his retirement to writing com - mentaries for the liberal weekly Die Zeit. For Kohl, the time is now. Egon Krenz's decision to end travel restrictions be - tween East and West Ger - many changes utterly the relationship between the two bastard states. Most vitally , it clears the way to a reunited Germany, strad - dling the European Comm - unity and the re-emergent nations of the Soviet bloc. Mikhail Gorbachev may have been the architect but it seems increasingly likely that Kohl will be the first freeholder and principal occupant of the European Home. Bonn's jubilation at the speed with which history has changed direction is combined with an anxiety bordering on awe. It is not just the understandable dis - may over where the thou - sa n ds of East German refugees are to be housed, and who is to pay for them. It goes deeper, and Kohl shares the general trepida - tion . It is, after all, just 50 years since Hitler's disas - trous "Drang nach Osten" (Drive to the East) which created the present, explo - sive situation. Politicians of all parties are relishing the challenge laid down by East Germa - ny ' s virtual capitulation. At the same time, they are fearful of the potential that has been released. To calm their neighbours' nerves, they are emphasi - sing that the East German transformation is a victory for democracy and free - d om , not nationalism. Thursday's spontaneous singing of the national anthem in the Bundestag when news came through of Krenz's decision on travel was, we are assured, to the new words, not the old. A resurgent Germany, within this optimistic sce - nario , would be a key component of an integrated Europe. West Germany on its own is already the largest contributor to the EC budget and dominates the community's internat - ional trade. With the addi - tion of the GDR, it would confirm this domination and draw in valuable trade from the Eastern bloc. Triumphalism would therefore be vanquished by incorporation — or so the argument goes. What would develop, generated from Berlin, would be a wholly social and economic em - pire , ushering in a new era of peace and co-operation from the Atlantic to the Urals. It is an arguably splendid, if somewhat unicentric vi - sion . Where the disquiet arises is in consideration of the more down-to-earth matters of national terri - tory . On Wednesday, on the eve of Kohl's disrupted visit to Warsaw, the chan - cellor called on parliament to reassure the Poles on the vexed question of Germa - ny ' s eastern frontier. Earlier, Theodore Waigel, the finance minister, had outraged the SPD oppo - sition — and many on his own side — by insisting that a united Germany should be defined within its 1937 frontiers. These included large chunks of present-day Poland, including Silesia and Danzig (Gdansk). It is a measure of how far events have come that the federal republic, which shares no frontiers with Poland, should be discuss - ing the long-term geographi - cal extent of a united Germany. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Bonn's veteran foreign min - i s ter , is keen to emphasise the benign nature of Ger - many 's ambitions. He has proposed a trade con - federation in which Eastern bloc countries would have preferential ties with the EC. Genscher is a long-term advocate of the democratic efficacy of trade. He rec ognises that industrial imp - erialism is an honourable alternative to war. He is also a Prussian by birth. For him, eastern Europe is home. Volker Rune, general sec - retary of the CDU, goes even further. He believes that as each of the eastern European nations embraces democracy, so they should be admitted as candidates for full EC membership. He cannot see how Turkey, three-quarters in Asia, can be considered while those like Hungary and Poland are not. Schmidt is more cau - tious , but concludes that there will have to be "a broad programme of eco - nomic modernisation and assistance" co-ordinated through Brussels. The former chancellor, who remains distrustful of the Krenz reforms, clearly accepts that the GDR needs Western economic assis - tance . He is less sure where the money is to come from. "It has to be said ," he writes in Die Zeit, "that this achievement of solidar - ity by our compatriots in the other German state will palpably be felt by us (in West Germany)." Schmidt expects the cost of aid to run into "many billions of deutschmarks" and foresees a need for supplementary taxes, or even a one-off levy on property. Eduard Heussen, spok es - man for the SPD in Bonn, agrees that the cost will be heavy and may well require extraordinary measures. He points out that much of the burden of supporting the estimated 300,000 East Ger - man refugees — as well as the lm who may be poised to come — is being borne by ordinary people. "They are the ones who must compete with the newcomers for homes and jobs . They pay most into our social security system. What we are talking about now is the need for a social detente. This is a national question." There is no doubt that the ideal of German unity and German leadership of a revived Europe scourged of communism is attractive to voters in the federal repub - lic . Yet the possible cost of the exercise will surely cause many to have second thoughts . One respected govern - ment adviser maintains that West Germany has the economic means to absorb the tide of migrants from the East without resort to special measures. He ad - mits , however , that housing the newcomers is a serious problem. Already, thou - sands of German service - men are in tents so the refugees can use their bar - racks . Washington has a - greed to a request that US soldiers and airmen should make all possible room available, while even the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's red light district, has been partly transformed to pro - vide hostels for the home - less . Bonn has responded with an emergency £2 billion home-building programme over the next four years. This is aimed not only at "Die Fluchtlinge" (fugi - tives ) from the GDR, but at the 300,000 "ethnic Ger - ma n s " expected to arrive over the next year as a result of separate deals with other Eastern bloc states. The difficulty is that houses take months, even years, to build, and the rising influx of migrants is reaching crisis proportions. If the total number of continued on next page 0 Pick-me-up : two East Germans celebrate their new freedom From the West : a Berliner hammers into the wall , watched by guards on the Brandenburg gate GERMANY precedented cash injection would come an increase in joint ventures and tech - nological and scientific ex - change schemes. No effort would be spared to reward democratic achievement. Theodore Waigel believes that the "democratic revolution" in East Ger - many is irreversible. Ques - tioned on unity, he replied that this would only come when the deutschmark and the ostmark achieved par - ity , and this would require massive Western invest - me nt . Reunification as an issue divides West Germans just as it has divided their country. To one Bonn government source, "East Germany has been in com - petition with West Ger - many for 40 years and it has lost the contest" He adds: "We do not prescribe what should hap - pen next East Germany must gain free self - determ - ination and then decide for itself. They must not come to us on their knees. It is a matter of self-esteem ." The same source is con - vinced , nonetheless, that the two states could soon share a common frontier with Poland. "It is an inevitability. The question is not if, but how and when and by what process. It is an historical necessity." Kohl seemed to echo this in Berlin on Friday. "Long live a free German father - land , a free united Europe," he told a cheering crowd. "We are and will remain one nation. Step by step we shall find our way to a common solution." A CDU policy-maker in Bonn listed three conditions for unity: democracy in the East, a free and united Europe and guaranteed sec - urity throughout the conti - nent . "Then we can begin. I am optimistic. We are seeing the total victory of freedom and democracy over social - ism and communism, and it has transformed our dream of unity into a concrete vision. One people divided is abnormal." , Helmut Kohl stands this week in the ante-chamber of history. He did not expect the convulsions that have now overwhelmed him. Yet if he is capable of responding with imagina - tion and drive, he may yet transform his previously lacklustre administration. He could even achieve what was until this month thought impossible: he could become the first chancellor of a united Germany since Adolf Hit - ler . Phnemen 0 continued from page 16 incomers should exceed lm, it is hard to see how the constitutional require - ment to give them homes can be honoured. "We cannot stop them. We have to receive them," said one senior government source, acknowledging an undercurrent of anxiety among working-class Ger - mans that threatens to turn into outright resentment. Many of the newcomers are young, talented and energetic. They include doc - tors , dentists, technicians and machine operators. At first, they were welcomed with open arms. Now they are beginning to be seen as unwanted competition in a crowded job market Simultaneously, they are a drain on financial re - sources . "There is no cri - sis ," says a source, "but some people do fear that federal programmes will be squeezed and reallocated." Heussen is convinced that the resentment is bubbling below the surface. "People are worried," he says. "They have simply not articulated it yet." All sides agree that the best solution would be for East Germans to remain at home and ensure the suc - cess of the GDR's promised economic reforms. Pre - sident Weizacker has urged potential refugees to re - consider . Hans-Jochen Vo - gel , the SPD leader, has appeared on East German television to issue the same plea. "We don't want to de - populate the GDR," said one leading official. "We don't want to inherit a wasteland." Viewed from Bonn, the financial and social ques - tio n needs to be addressed in the context of East German industrial recon - struction . To that end, Kohl promised "a new dimen - sion " of financial aid, put by one official at "many billions of deutschmarks" . This would follow democ - ratisation and free elections in the GDR. Without firm proof of progress in this direction, all aid would automatically be withheld. Parallel with this un- And from the East bulldozers move in to provide yet more openings in the Berlin Wall