Publication: The Times

Full Citation

  • Title Berlin Wall needed as ideological divide
  • Author Murray, Ian
  • Publication Title The Times
  • Collection The Times Digital Archive, 1785-2008
  • Date Monday,  Nov. 6, 1989
  • Issue Number 63544
  • Page Number 11
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
Berlin Wall needed as ideological divide This weekend the Berlin Wall's crude usefulness for keeping East Germans at home effectively came to an end . Bowing to the inevitable, the new leadership has de - cided , at least for the time being, to let its people go. Instead of trying to seal its citizens in, it is working on a reform package , promised for this week, which it hopes will prove more effective. Although the Wall no longer serves the purpose for which it was built, it would be wrong to think that it will soon come down. "The brutal Wall", as Presi - dent Bush called it in May, is vital as a symbol to Herr Egon Krenz and the new younger Politburo he will head later this week. It shows in very concrete terms that East Germany is a separate country. President Bush called in his Mainz speech on unifying Europe for the Wall to be torn down. "It stands," he said, "as a monument to the failure of communism. It must come down." It is for that reason Herr Krenz cannot afford to let the Wall come down. He made this clear last Wednes - day when he said on television that the Wall marked a fron - tier not just between two states, but between two ideologies and two blocs. He sees that , without it, the chances for a reunited — but capitalist — Germany grow. Eased travel restrictions and free access to West German television have been im - portant factors in stirring up the unrest If Berlin were no longer a divided city, it would be even harder to stop the young generation of East Ger - mans being seduced by capitalism . The tens of thousands who have left this year and who are continuing to pour out are economic as well as political refugees . Tired of a system where there is little reward for responsibility or effort, they are as interested in sharing West German prosperity as in the right to vote. However , the majority of East Germans want to retain a separate nationality and are uninterested in reunification. The main reform group, New Forum, is careful to emphasize that it wants to see change brought about — as Herr Krenz has insisted — within the socialist constitution . It dislikes being called an "opposition group", because it says that it wants to open a dialogue within the system. A tiny trickle of failed refugees are going home. The West German Red Cross con - firme d that it helped 200 to go back last week. The East German youth paper, Junge Welt , said a steady flow of about 25 people a day were crossing back over the border. After a day in a special reception camp , they were allowed home. Most say they do not like the lifestyle in the West, while others say they want to help in the reform process. Another issue which cannot be ignored is the huge number dem - onstrating daily and chanting, among other slogans, "We are staying". Like New Forum, which they largely support, the crowds want more democracy, freer elections and the right to travel. But most of them are not calling for an end to communism yet Herr Krenz is trying to provide an acceptable form of communism, which will end the agitation and stop the exodus . Working with a population brainwashed from childhood to believe in socialism, he must consider he can succeed - provided he can make them proud of their separate nationality. His views on the issue of reunification are undoubtedly the same as those given by his predecessor, Herr Erich Ho - nec k er , in a speech he deliv - ere d to a party conference eight years ago. He said then: "If today certain people in the West talk big about Greater Germany , and behave as if reunification of the two states lay closer to their hearts than their wallets do, what- we would say to them is: *Be careful. One day socialism will knock on your door , too, and if the day comes when the working people of the Federal Republic start on the socialist reshaping of the Federal Republic of Germany, then the question of reunification of both German states would look entirely different'." The need for the Wall is not to stop people from escaping, but rather to curb infiltration of the idea that the German people are one and indivisible. While the main use of the Wall on the Western side is for political graffiti, its Eastern side is an essential customs and passport barrier, proving that East Germany is a real political entity. From Ian Murray, Bonn