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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 15:39 GMT


World: Europe

German press contemplates anniversary

Time for reflection: Newspapers are pondering Germany's future

Germany's newspapers are reflecting on the fall of the wall - but with less fanfare than its politicians.

Communism - the end of an era
Most newspapers focused on the failed appeal against a jail sentence by the last head of East Germany Egon Krenz.

Krenz failed on Monday to overturn a jail sentence for the manslaughter of East German citizens who died attempting to flee the communist state.

'Justice done'

Describing the court's decision as "just", the Berliner Morgenpost writes: "Krenz must bear the consequences of his actions. Justice has been done.

"Those claimed by the Wall will not be brought back by this judgement against Krenz and the pain of their relatives will not be belatedly alleviated.

"And yet, this sentence against the last leading representative of an unjust regime comes as good news on this the 10th year after the fall of the wall."

Turning to other events in the city, the newspaper comments that as the world's leaders of 1989 arrived for Monday's special ceremonies, "all (the crowd) wanted to see Gorbi", recalling the affection which both East and West Germans had shown for the former head of the Soviet Union.

"As he stepped from his car, there were loud cheers and he was welcomed with the inevitable "Gorbi" chant," the newspaper wrote.

'Victors justice'

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine focuses on Egon Krenz's complaints that his conviction was the malicious act of the victor.

But the newspaper writes: "There have been no deaths at the Wall for the last 10 years, no Wall, no Politburo. It should be called a decade of victor's justice."

Die Welt uses the anniversary to criticise the way the nation's leaders have treated the date and that of German reunification.

Arguing that Germany's national contemplation should be focused on the fall of the wall, the newspaper writes: "It was an act of self-liberation by the people, the result of a peaceful protest movement within East Germany and not the work of big politics.

"The day of our national history is 9 November. This day points to the path of the century, all of its times, good and bad.

"If we make 9 November our national day of rememberance, we become jointly repsonsible for our entire history. We have a chance to discover our inner unity as a nation."

East German's day

Die Tageszeitung, in an imaginary speech by a member of the East German opposition to the German parliament, praises the ordinary East German people for achieving a "historical miracle".

"An authoritarian system gave itself up over night," the newspaper says.

"When today we contemplate the 10th annivesary of the fall of the Wall, it is without a doubt the hour of the East Germans.

"The West Germans should for once remain silent. They can content themselves that they have the say in the other 364 days of the year."

Honecker's widow revealed

The mass-circulation Bild Zeitung chooses to examine the fate of the widow of the late East German dictator Erich Honecker.

Picturing her in protected exile in Chile, the newspaper writes: "Margot Honecker: Alone, bitter and no trace of remorse.

"What an irony. The Wall that fenced in 16 million people is long gone. But Margot Honecker still lives behind a thick wall."

Other newspapers analyse the performance of the new German states absorbed into West Germany a year after the fall of the Wall.

Munich's Suddeutsche Zeitung comments on the lingering pscyhological and economic divisions between east the west.

"What is to be done when the Wall...really does linger in the mind?" it asks. "We have to believe that one day this Wall will also fall."

But Leipzig's Volkszeitung, the city where the pro-freedom protests took off in the summer of 1989, reports a poll finding that East Germans are steadily getting happier since the Wall fell.

The newspaper reported its poll, carried out in eastern states and old East Berlin, showed that four-fifths of those questioned were optimistic and confident - compared to just two-thirds five years ago.



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