One of the most important achievements of the Wende, the »Law on Travel Abroad by Citizens of the German Democratic Republic,« officially comes into force. All citizens may now leave the country at any time, with a passport.
Upon his return from Moscow, Prime Minister Modrow presents to the astonished public his strategy for accomplishing German unity. »Germany will once again become the unified fatherland of all citizens of the German nation. Responsibility, caution, and an understanding of what is possible and what Europe can bear are necessary so that no danger to the life and property of its neighbors will ever again arise,« he tells the press in East Berlin. As conceivable steps, Modrow suggests a treaty community with confederative elements, creation of a confederation of East and West Germany with joint organs, transference of the rights of sovereignty of both states to confederate organs, and finally, elections to create a unified German state in the form of a German federation or a German union.
Responding to Modrow's most recent statement, Chancellery Minister Bohl in West Berlin states that West Germany will only negotiate on German unity with a freely-elected government after March 18. It goes without saying, headds, that the path to unification must be an integral part of the overall process of European unity. However, that path cannot include a strategy of neutrality, which would contravene the logic of European unity.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl meets in West Berlin with CDU Chairman Lothar de Maizière to discuss formation of an electoral alliance of several conservative parties. The chairman of Democratic Awakening, Wolfgang Schnur, already invokes »a clear majority« that identifies with Christian, liberal, social and conservative values. The government decides upon an immediate increase in wages and salaries for 2.3 million blue and white collar workers. The raise, which requires roughly 3.6 billion marks, will go into effect between March 1 and July 1. The Council of Ministers also adopts regulations on early retirement for older workers who have lost their jobs and on compensation payments while work is being sought. Both are sent to the Round Table.
The Vice-President of the East German Building Academy, Professor Werner Teuber, paints a merciless picture of the disastrous situation of East German housing. Of 7.1 million apartments, half a million have neither bath nor shower, and nearly a million have no toilet in the apartment. Roughly half of all apartments continue to be heated with coal stoves. Average building age is 58 years. Of the apartment buildings built before World War II, 11% are in such a state of disrepair that they are no longer salvageable.
© 1999, Christoph Links Verlag, Berlin