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Mass Emigration from GDR to FRG

The GDR, or German Democratic Republic, was a communist state of about 17 million people before the mass emigration across the border into the FRG, or Federal Republic of Germany. The enormous flood of refugees from East Germany, consisting of about "250,000 people entering West Germany up to 12 November" (Thies, 1990, p. 2), has created many economic, political, and social problems for both sides.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has offered economic aid to the East, partly in an attempt to persuade East Germans not to leave their country. The ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) and the opposition Social Democrats (CSU) are alike in their belief that a reunified Germany is not without complications. In addition, the SED, or the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, is reluctant to let go of the inroads it has made in establishing the most affluent MarxistLeninist government in Europe. As Josef Joffe writes in World Press Review:

Using ponderous circumlocutions, the leader of the left, HansJochen Vogel, has address his fellow Germans in the East thus: 'We implore all those who are thinking about emigration to examine carefully whether they would not rather support the process of democratization in the GDR.' (1990, p. 14)

In the same article, originally published in the conservative Times of London, Joffe quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, the chronicler of the French "ancien regime," as being right when he said that "a bad government is most grievously endangered when it starts to mend its ways" (1990, p. 14). Likewise, as A. James McAdams points out in his "Obituary for the Berlin Wall," if we look back at the SED's efforts to improve its public image, "it seems as though every step the party took toward greater openness and honesty simultaneously led to spiraling losses in its legitimacy" (1990, p. 357).

McAdams (1990) further maintains that when historians write the story of what happened within the two Germanys in 1990, "...

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