Perestroika and Germany: The Truth Behind The Myths

by Hans Modrow, assisted by Bruno Mahlow
2014; Paperback; 194pp; ISBN 978-0-9558228-5-8


Perestroika and Germany - coverThis book offers a unique insight into the processes that brought about perestroika and the demise of Eastern Europe’s experiment with socialism. It is a fascinating and essential read for all those wishing to understand those processes from the viewpoint of an intelligent insider and perceptive observer.

Michael Gorbachev and his policy of perestroika, not only brought about the transformation of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, but the constellation of world relationships. At the centre of those profound changes that shook Europe was a divided Germany.

Hans Modrow, the author of this book, was drafted as a 17-year-old into Hitler’s army and became a Soviet prisoner of war. After his release he, like many others traumatised by the Nazi experience, decided to help build a better, democratic post-war Germany. He became active in the FDJ socialist youth movement, and soon thereafter rose through the party ranks of the Socialist Unity Party in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to become its regional secretary in Dresden. By the eighties, he had already become disillusioned with the undemocratic practices of the SED and its leadership and began advocating the need for transformation to a proper democratic form of socialism.

After the Wall was opened in 1989, he became the GDR’s last prime minister, before elections were held and the country and the new government chose to unite with the Federal Republic by a process of annexation.

During his period as Dresden party secretary he had numerous contacts with the Soviet Union and other East European countries, and during his time as prime minister he met frequently with Soviet leaders and with Gorbachev himself. He has an intimate knowledge of the processes that led to perestroika and the detailed discussion that took place between world leaders at that time. He was particularly involved in the discussions concerning the process that concluded with German unification.

Unlike many others who once called themselves 'communist' or 'socialist', Modrow refused to cross to the other side and join the victors, nor has he succumbed to cynicism as many also did. He became an MP for the PDS (the party that emerged out of the SED, later to become Die Linke) in the Bundestag, and then an MEP. Today, he is honorary Chair of Die Linke (The Left party), and is still an active participant in the political life of Germany and maintains his international contacts.

Hans Modrow believes that the centralised ‘command economies’ of Eastern Europe were doomed virtually from the outset because democratic principles were ignored. That’s why, today, he is an adamant supporter and campaigner for a genuinely democratic socialism.

1 copy, including P&P