Thirty years back from now, profit-hungry MNCs of the monopolists, as well as high-tech based propaganda machinery sponsored by them went exuberant with an event known as “ Demolition of the Berlin Wall”. It was an event in Germany, but the exuberance spread across the entire capitalist-imperialist world with the target fixed at the then socialist East Germany in particular, and socialism-communism in general. The revellers went all their way to project this as demolition of the barrier between democracy and authoritarianism, between so-called freedom in capitalism and alleged state-coercion in socialism, between apparent prosperity-progress-development of people in capitalism and servitude- stagnation- doom of their counterpart in socialism. The dazzle of monopolist sponsored propaganda and more so, the gloom of treacherous role of the modern revisionists engineering capitalist counter-revolution with the backing of the imperialist-capitalist camp in one socialist country after another, created the haze. These confused and blocked uncritical masses at large from realizing the truth. Instead, these made people to be carried away by the capitalist-imperialist design. It took hardly a few years for the haze to thin out. At this hour of the thirtieth anniversary of the dark episode, it remains for every right-thinking person to delve into the truths, with a view to cleaning up the air. It is urgent, as right now the capitalist-imperialist world and particularly the imperialist-capitalist powers of Europe, rather the European Union, on face of the severe economic crisis of their system they face today, have intensified afresh their anti-communist campaign. As reports go, last September, the EU Parliament adopted an utterly despicable resolution, full of anti-communist slanders, that distorts history. It thus demands a dispassionate look back into the history.
What was this Berlin Wall? Who built it and why? On what background? These are the few cardinal questions. And to unveil the truth, first a brief note on the background.
At the end of the Second World War with the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain and later France joining heads together, the Yalta (/Crimea) Conference (February 1945) and Potsdam Conference (July-August 1945) laid down the principles to determine the future of Germany. That was a time, when the US-UK allies could not but greet Comrade Joseph Stalin, the great leader of the proletariat and architect of building up and strengthening socialism in the erstwhile USSR, i.e., the Soviet Russia, as the saviour of humanity from the cruel clutches of Nazism. It was great Stalin who had led the Soviet Red Army and the people of Soviet Russia to drive the Nazis out of Russia and different countries of east Europe and made them finally accept defeat in Berlin. Fall of Berlin at the hands of the Soviet Red Army was the victory over Nazism-fascism not only for the world, but also for the German people too.
The aforesaid conferences were aimed at creating the conditions to develop Germany into a single, demilitarized, de-nazified, democratic state. Till the agreed goal was achieved, the larger and industrially developed western part of the country was placed under the administration of the alliance between U.S- Britain and eventually France, the imperialist powers, and the agriculture-based eastern past which had experienced and embraced liberation from Nazi-domination came under the Soviet socialist administration. Similarly, the city of Berlin was also divided into West Berlin and East Berlin respectively. West was under the imperialist control whereas East Berlin remained under the control of socialist Soviet Union. Geographically, entire Berlin was situated in the Soviet Russia- controlled eastern part of the country. So the Soviet authority left a corridor in West Berlin under the supervision of the Soviet Army for communication and easy access between the eastern and western parts.
However, right from the word go, the ever-deceitful imperialists, represented here by the alliance of the US-UK-France started playing their heinous games. They pumped up a combination of the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats in Western Germany. In May, September 1949, the regions under the imperialist control were combined into the capitalist Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) with Bonn as the capital and by no means excluded Nazi-era war-monger politicians. placed in power. Bifurcation of Germany as against the agreed provision of unified Germany was, thus, initiated by the imperialists. In October 1949, Soviet Russia handed over the charge of eastern part of the country as also of East Berlin, to the united democratic front led by the German Communist Party which had helped the Red Army to defeat the Nazis. The front established the German Democratic Republic (GDR/ DDR) as an anti-capitalist anti-fascist people’s democratic state with its capital in East Berlin. The Soviet forces were withdrawn. West Germany, however, became a member of the US-imperialist-led military alliance NATO against the Soviet Union with modern war machineries and systems installed there by the US imperialists. Before long West Germany itself was armed to the teeth demonstrating its military force. And last, but not the least, West Berlin, placed right in the heart of eastern Germany, was fuelled and pampered with liberal aids from the US to grow into a pompous showcase of capitalism and an advance outpost of an intensive and systematic vilification campaign against socialism. The goal of the campaign was to undermine East Germany, its ongoing achievements and ultimately the Soviet Union. All these went against the post-war agreements. Compelled by this development endangering the security of the GDR, the latter had to come into the Warshaw Pact with Soviet Union and other socialist East European countries.
There was another factor operating from behind. To bring about counter-revolutionary upsurge in favour of the fascist ideology of Nazism, the Hitlerite Nazi leadership had whipped up national jingoist slogan of German supremacy. Besides, to rope in the entire country behind them, the Nazis had also fanned up the cry of unified Germany. In the post-war times with Germany vanquished and divided, it was quite natural that the Germans would fall victim to a sense of humiliation and frustration. The West German rulers clearly aided and abetted by the imperialist and their well-lubricated media, once again got into the dangerous game of fanning up these vicious concepts of German supremacy and unified Germany. With all cunningness, they marked the Soviet Russia and socialism as the stumbling block for the Germans to achieve these.
Parallel to this, it cannot be ignored that after the demise of the great leader Stalin in 1953, the rise of modern revisionism in Soviet Union and its spread in other socialist countries were ideologically and culturally eating into the very vitals of socialism in these countries. The planned socialist state-controlled economy was bringing about economic reconstruction in the once Nazi- controlled and then war-ravaged east European countries-turned people’s democratic and later socialist states. But the desired and necessary cultural revolution to bring about ideological- cultural changes to a standard commensurate with the socialist economy and society, was not carried out by the revisionist leaderships in these countries. In the post-war relatively peaceful society, latent bourgeois influences flared up in the cultural-ideological field. These found expression in bourgeois individualism, individual aspiration for so-called prosperity placed over collective interest. The compromising revisionist leadership instead of inculcating among the people the correct understanding of freedom which lies in recognition of social necessity and finds concrete expression in more and more identification with the socialist state and socialist programmes created conditions in which one is prompted to be swayed by the concept of ultra-freedom and place the question of individual freedom and fulfilment of individual aspirations estranged from social necessity and something exclusively individual-oriented. So, instead of grasping the truth that individual’s interest is intimately interwoven with the social necessity at any given moment of history and social development, people were made to harbour wronged illusionary notion of freedom. The dazzle of imperialist propaganda, be it about prosperity in the West or on the questions of individual freedom, could thus allure common people, more so the younger generations, particularly when their leadership had turned bureaucratic, all of which was giving way to strong resentment in people about their “freedom being curbed in socialism.” .
The Berlin Wall : erection to demolition
On such a background, people of East Germany were drawn and provoked to migrate to the Western part. At the same time, taking advantage of the open border, capitalist West German regime carried on continuous subversive activities to undermine and sabotage the socialist construction in the GDR. When these were taking a menacing shape, the East Germany government, at the beckoning of the revisionist Khrushchev leadership slipped into another bureaucratic move to close its border for good. In just two weeks in August 1961, the East German army, police force and construction workers completed a makeshift barbed wire and concrete block wall–the Berlin Wall–that divided one side of the city from the other. Apparently meant to act as a measure of defence against the offensive policy of West Germany and an effort to ensure the security of the socialist German Democratic Republic, this made the situation worse . Exodus might have been stemmed, even economic growth of the GDR could have been boosted in absence of subversion. But it caused resentment among people who even had their families divided. This, as a palatable gift to exploit, it only helped to fuel the imperialist propaganda against socialism calling the latter as a “totalitarian regime of command economy”. By the end of the 1980s, the situation in the GDR was explosive. By then the East German people had become openly rebellious against their bureaucratic revisionist leadership and the Berlin Wall. A wave of mass demonstrations swept through East German cities. To avert the crisis, the government was changed. At this critical hour, Gorbachev, the architect of capitalist counter-revolution in Soviet Russia, visited East Germany on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic. Reportedly he pressed upon hastening up pro-capitalist reforms and bring the East German leadership to his line of counter-revolution. On 9 November 1989, the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. On the very same date, demolition of the wall began. It was completed in a few weeks. A celebratory atmosphere was created. A mood of euphoria prevailed harping on reunification of Germany. But elation and expectation in the population of the GDR in November of 1989, was soon eclipsed by the gloom and despair of a shattered dream.
Changes leading upto demolition of the wall and after
New questions confronted people of Germany, both East and West, as well as people of the world. What went wrong? Were not the people duped and deceived? To reach the answers it is better to look for what changes took place from before to after the demolition of the wall.
Within a short time after the World War II, planned economies under state control of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe achieved astonishing results in the fields of industry, science, health and education. Of all the regimes of Eastern Europe, the German Democratic Republic was one of the most industrially and technologically advanced. The standard of life, although not apparently as high as in West Germany, was good. There was full employment and everyone had access to cheap housing, transport, free medicine and education of a high standard. A brief comparison is presented here based on official data of the two governments. In eight years from 1950, ‘total production’ of industrial goods increased by 141% and 110% respectively in GDR and FRG. A break-up shows that ‘increase in production’ in basic industries was 125% and 103% , in metal industries 192% and 164% , in food and cereals 163% and 102%, in chemical industries 146% and 151% etc., in all cases the first figures are of East Germany and the second of West Germany.
With demolition of the wall and much-clamoured unification, German people of the former GDR discovered that they started losing their guaranteed jobs, universal childcare which especially harmed women, two-thirds of their public libraries, their low-rent apartments and almost-free public transportation.
From a society with zero unemployment, it found only 30 per cent of the workforce in employment one year. Allured by the propaganda and compelled by the reality, a large section of population of the former GDR (East Germany) moved to the West. At least 4 million job positions were lost by 1992. In the five years following the fall of the Berlin Wall, up to 80% of working East Germans lost their jobs. Women who had achieved a high degree of equality in the GDR, as in other erstwhile socialist countries of East Europe, suffered most. Pensioners had their savings halved and companies were unable to meet their wage obligations and at the same time unable to sell their goods.
In the GDR, factories were called “People’s Own Factory,” the property of the collective, of the people. Those were handed over to a newly created government agency, the “Treuhand”, whose sole objective was rapid privatisation. Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, once an important centre for the chemical industry with more than 315,000 people, lost nearly a fifth of its citizens; employment was reduced by about 90%. Gera once had large textiles and defence industries, and some uranium mining. They were gone, and much the same happened in most other state-owned industries since 1989.
The imperialist claim of the ‘victory of democracy, victory of the free world,’ etc., boiled down to what was the beginning of an unprecedented “loot” of GDR’s public property: privatization of industries, even hospitals, gruelling unemployment, extended corruption and so on. Reuters reported an East German saying “It took just a few weeks to realize what the free market economy was all about. It’s rampant materialism and exploitation. Human beings get lost. We didn’t have the material comforts but communism still had a lot going for it”. Another old retired blacksmith responded with “I thought communism was shit but capitalism is even worse. The free market is brutal.” “The distribution of wealth is unfair” was how a lady clerk opined. Once imperialist Germany had conquered Namibia in the 19th century, but the socialist GDR gave medical treatment to the wounded liberation fighters of SWAPO in Africa. Capitalism after counter-revolution in GDR made use of the socialist infrastructure to build up their profit-making machine. From its fear-complex of revolution, it began to sweep away all marks of socialism-communism. Most of the visual landmarks of the socialist era were removed. In East Berlin, Lenin Allee was renamed Landsberger Allee, Karl Marx Platz became Hackischer Markt. The federal government initially proclaimed that the costs of unification could be borne by borrowing and without increases in taxation. Within a few years, Helmut Kohl government imposed additional taxation. Common people of East Germany were disillusioned by the economic results of the unification. They were duped and deceived. They did not dream of mass unemployment, closure of factories, destruction of the industrial base they had built, the rise in prices, snatching away the ever-unknown social benefits that socialism had given them, demoralization and degeneration of their youth. They started realizing the deceit behind the so called slogan of “individual freedom and fulfilment of individual aspirations being curbed in socialism”. Those from the West grew increasingly resentful of the cost of paying for it. They demolished the Berlin Wall. Now in Munich, they have been assigned the job of erecting a higher wall to protect themselves from the influx of refugees. Reunification came down to annexation, an imperialist country seizing a colony , plundering its infrastructure and using its human resources as cheap labour. In both parts, East and West, those who were benefited were certainly the monopoly groups, the capitalists and definitely not the working class of the country.
It has now been made amply clear that the goal was never democracy and freedom. The target was to demolish socialism, socialist reconstruction and communism. Die Zeit, the leading newspaper summarised the process as : “the masses wanted free movement to the West, capital wanted free movement to the East”.
Three decades have been enough to prove this design of the imperialists led by the US-imperialists. US imperialism wanted the German imperialism to regain strength, to be used against the Soviet Russia. Now with the crisis of the capitalist-imperialist world system reaching its peak, they are at each other’s neck for survival. The US and the European imperialists are vying with each other to gain or retain markets for their profit hunt. Toiling people of Germany as well of anywhere in the world, had nothing to rejoice at the erection and demolition of the Berlin Wall. Observance of 30 years of its fall only demands to tear apart the veil of deception, profit-hunger, inhuman cruelty and all these forming the base of rabid anti-communism that the imperialists have been and are frantically trying to develop and practise. Perhaps there is a rethinking: What has been demolished? The Berlin Wall or the edifice of socialism that guaranteed true prosperity and development of German people?