Thursday, 26 November 2009
It is twenty years this month since the Berlin Wall and the Stalinist dictatorships of Eastern Europe fell. In the following articles Eastern European socialists, from the groups affiliated with the International Socialist Tendency (IST), recall what happened twenty years ago. The IST (of which Socialist Worker NZ is a member) upholds the view that the Stalinist countries were state capitalist, not socialist or communist in any way. These articles first appeared in the British newspaper Socialist Worker. Gabi Engelhardt [right] was a leading member of the underground left in East Germany when the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. She spoke to Yuri Prasad about her experiences, and the unfinished business of the revolution that she and her comrades helped to initiate. The events of autumn 1989, and the end of the East German state, can be traced back to the spring and summer before the Wall came down – and even further back in history as well. The revolutions of 1989 stood in the tradition of the revolts of East Germany in 1953, Poland in 1956 and 1968 in Czechoslovakia. In East Germany people “voted with their feet”, by leaving for West Germany. The worldwide deterioration of the economic and political situation in 1989 – particularly in the Eastern Bloc – saw the trickle turn into a flood. I was part of a group who decided that we didn’t want to leave, and give up our homes, families and lives – we wanted to make change at home.