Monday, August 22, 2011

Workers World Editorial: Revisiting the Berlin Wall

Published Aug 19, 2011 7:13 AM

From: Workers World

On Aug. 13, the corporate media in imperialist Germany used the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall to propagandize against communism and the German Democratic Republic.

The GDR had built the wall at a time when Germany and Berlin were divided between a capitalist West and a socialist East. After Hitler’s defeat in World War II — largely at the hands of the Soviet Union, which also suffered the greatest casualties from Nazi aggression — the U.S. had poured billions of dollars into West Germany to rebuild capitalism there. West Berlin, where many of the capitalist elite were concentrated, was much richer than East Berlin. Nevertheless, the socialist East offered free education and health care to everyone. The wall was built largely to stem an exodus to the West, known as the “brain drain,” of skilled people educated at the expense of the workers’ state.

There are many in the united Germany of today who are not celebrating the fall of the wall and the GDR. Their voices were heard on Aug. 13 when the non-affiliated Marxist German daily newspaper, Junge Welt, ran a front-page article along with a historical photo of army troops of the GDR defending the Brandenburg Gate, one of the entry points between West and East. The headline read, “At this time, all we can say is: Thank you.”

The article went on to give examples of what the GDR had achieved during the 28 years of the wall — much of which was lost once the socialist state was overthrown and the GDR swallowed by West Germany.

The article thanked the GDR for “28 years of peace in Europe” and “28 years without any German soldiers participating in wars.” The united Germany, as a member of NATO, now has armed forces in Afghanistan, parts of the former Yugoslavia and Sudan, as well as off the coasts of the Horn of Africa and Lebanon.

It also thanked the GDR for 28 years without unemployment, homelessness and soup kitchens and for providing education, child care and health care for all “without a consultation fee or two-tier health care.”

Reflecting popular anger at German capital, it thanked the GDR for “28 years without hedge funds and private equity parasites.”

Germany today, like the rest of the capitalist world, is cutting social programs while unemployment grows, especially in the east where workers used to be guaranteed work under socialism. In the land of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, many now know from bitter experience that capitalism can never bring a better life to the majority of the people.

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