Maintaining Socialism by Reforming it – GDR Discourses in Autumn 1989

Socialism was more than just a dictatorship. It was also a political vision that had inspired hopes. At the end of socialism, it had lost most of its supporters among the politically active citizens in Eastern Europe, with one exception: the intelligentsia of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

I am not going to discuss the reason for this exception. However, it is a fact that two groups of political actors in the last years of the GDR favoured the further development and not the abolishment of socialism. In short, they preferred a third way between western capitalism and soviet socialism. These groups consisted of the ‘opposition’ and the reform-oriented intelligentsia within the GDR’s governing party, the Socialist Unity Party or SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands). (see Segert 2009)

Picture 1: Four groups of actors engaged for change in the GDR at the end of the eighties*

Spontaneous (not organised) Organised Activity
Action determined mainly by private, individual interests 1) Ausreiser (emigrants)
Action determined mainly by political aims 3) Demonstrators 2) Members of opposition groups
4) Reform-oriented intelligentsia within SED
(part of the ‘service class’)

*Figures show the succession of the public emergence of the respective actor in autumn 1989 in GDR. To differentiate these groups also see Rink 1997, Land 1997 pp. 129-130.

I am going to explain, firstly, when the programmatic debates of these two groups emerged and became public. Secondly, I will examine the groups’ particular programs. And, thirdly, I will discuss why, in 1989, their proposed alternative development could not be achieved.

1. History of both organized groups of actors

The final crisis of the GDR started in 1988.[1] We can identify four phases : 1) The first period lasted from autumn 1988 until May 1989 when local elections took place in the GDR. At the same time started the removal of the border fence between Hungary and Austria. This time was marked by the failed attempt of the old SED leadership to start a conservative counterattack to the Soviet perestroika. 2) The second phase lasted from May until mid-September 1989. Impressed by the mass escape of GDR citizens, more and more people came to believe that a crisis would soon break out in the GDR. 3) The emergence of the Neues Forum at the beginning of September started a third phase of political development that lasted until the resignation of the GDR’s head of state, Erich Honecker, in the middle of October 1989.. In that period, a new type of political participation emerged: the illegal mass demonstration. 4) After Honecker’s resignation, the more flexible elements of the SED party leadership tried to regain the initiative and to stabilise the state power. This attempt failed because the loyalty of parts of the “service class” (Dienstklasse) towards the elite had already been disrupted. The chaotic opening of the border on 9 November became the central event of this phase. At the end of November 1989, new and powerful actors had entered onto the political stage of East Germany: the political class of West Germany reoriented itself again towards German unification.

Now to the history of the two organised GDR actors: When viewed historically, the reform-oriented intelligentsia had older roots. Critical Marxists in Germany referred to the criticism of Rosa Luxemburg towards the Russian revolution in 1917; they sympathized with Leo Trotsky in his protest against Stalin’s politics in the 1930s, they learned from Georg Lukacs and Adam Schaff. They were mainly driven by the contradictions between the original program of socialist revolution and the actual party politics. They were further motivated by the crises and conflicts in their own country and in their close neighbourhood. This group included people from different generations, among them Ernst Bloch, Robert Havemann and Wolfgang Harich and, later, Rudolf Bahro and Rolf Henrich[2] Upon their shoulders arose a third generation of reform-oriented SED members, among them a group connected with the project of a ‘modern socialism’.

At the end of the seventies, the GDR opposition emerged under the roof of the Protestant churches. [3] Critical Marxists and Christian-inspired intellectuals cooperated in these groups on the margins of the GDR society. They were engaged with such issues as the struggle against the militarisation of everyday life, the danger of an atomic war, the search for a new relationship to nature, the defence of human rights in their own country. These associations published journals and organised meetings on public themes, founded regular discussion groups for peace (Friedenskreise), such as in 1981 in the Berlin district of Pankow. In Berlin, an opposition group founded in 1986 an environmental library (Umweltbibliothek). In 1987, opposition groups took part in the Olof Palme Peace March. In January 1988, some of the opposition groups participated in the official Luxemburg-Liebknecht Demonstration but with their own slogans about the freedom of those with different opinions. During the local elections in May 1989, members of the opposition observed the vote counting process and protested against election fraud. In the summer of 1989, some opposition leaders initiated a discussion process aimed at leaving the shelter of the churches. As a result, new political groups or parties were founded.

Based on their public activities and conflicts with the state in the years leading up to the start of the Wende (change of the political system), the members of the opposition were more known and more appreciated than reformers within the SED party. Among the new political groups, the Neues Forum (New Forum) had the highest public approval. In the second half of November 1989, an opinion poll asked the public which party it would vote for in case of elections: 26.3 percent favoured the SED, 16.9 percent supported LDPD[4], and the Neues Forum came in third with 13.2 percent.[5]

2. On the importance of a utopia in historically open situations

It is definitely not a surprise that, within the SED membership, the reform-oriented intelligentsia sought an alternative socialism. However, more difficulties emerge when reconstructing the oppositions’ aims in that period: did this orientation towards alternative socialism truly exist? Could it simply be a tactic to avoid a further political marginalisation?

One can find this latter position in academic literature. The historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk has identified only a tiny minority within the opposition that was oriented towards an alternative socialist conception, the group Vereinigte Linke. (2009, pp. 360–361.) In regards to other groups that also were using the term ‘socialist’ in their program, he presumes nothing but a loss of sense for reality. He characterises their aims with such adjectives as ‘nebulous’, ‘half-baked’, and ‘illusory’. (see p. 357, 365)[6]

Ehrhard Neubert (2008, p. 195 ff.), another historian, does not deny the original socialist orientations of the groups, but he is not willing to accept them as a realistic alternative to ‘German reunification’.

Christof Geisel (2005) has conceded that most opposition activists had truly critical views towards the West German order and he emphasized their position in favour of the preservation of a properly renovated GDR. However, in the same publication, he questioned the consistency of the oppositions’ program.[7] He argues that the opposition allegedly was not able to radically leave the ideology of the power-holders and develop its own world of meaning (Sinnwelt). (Geisel 2005, p. 238)

My interpretation of these facts is different. The concept of socialism, which was held both by the opposition and the reform-oriented intelligentsia, is not important because of the consistency of its theses. Similar concepts are influential in historical changes because they are guiding principles of the actions of key actors. Values matter, not the logic of arguments. Utopian visions relate to actions. Such concepts are first important only within the values orientations of a few persons and tiny groups. In historically open situations, where objectively different developments compete with one another, the choice of political action by small groups of actors can achieve social hegemony. Only in this situation can the individual political choices of small groups play a historically important role. In a certain sense, this kind of strong utopian vision within resolute groups of actors belongs to the necessary requisites for developing social alternatives.

The respective political programs of the political groups should not be evaluated from the point of its scholarly consistency. The value of these goals should be measured by the seriousness or the passion of its supporters. One has to ask whether the programs are based on personal values or on the community of values shared by these political groups. Only people who believe strongly in the changeability of a certain society are able to act decisively in a historically open situation.

Nevertheless, that kind of utopia clearly should be more than only a pipe dream.

3. On the way to which kind of socialism? Programs of the GDR opposition

Did the most important actors of the GDR opposition in autumn 1989 believe in the necessity of a third-way model of change in the country and in Europe? There is some evidence: within his study, Christof Geisel has an opinion poll that I quote.[8] He asked, retrospectively, about the shared convictions. Firstly, he poses the question: :In the summer of 1989, what did you connect with the term ‘socialism’?” Of the respondents, 62 percent agreed fully or at least partially with the statement: the term describes a ‘task for humanity that is as important today as it was 100 years ago.’ The declaration that the term in the light of its inherent ideals ‘is for me personally connected with a very good feeling’ (‘hat für mich immer noch einen guten Klang’) was backed by about 60 percent of the polled. (Geisel 2005, p. 294) The greatest consensus was on the statement that their main aim had been ‘to democratise the GDR’ (90 percent agreed). Nearly the same amount of people agreed with the proposition that there was a strong desire to realise ‘better and more just living conditions’ not only ‘in their own country’.

This follows an explicit ‘third-way-concept’: we have strived for a model of an alternative in politics and economics that is able ‘to overcome both the shortcomings of real socialism and of Western capitalism’. In this particular poll, nearly half of the polled (47 percent) fully agreed, another 37 percent agreed ‘more or less’, that is all together 85 percent of all respondents were favourable to the concept. (Geisel 2005: 286)

This poll was asking for retrospective assessments and, accordingly, we should be cautious with its results. Most important though is the following fact: its results are confirmed by the new political groups’ programs published in autumn 1989 in the GDR.[9]

Strictly speaking, only the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of the GDR avoided referring to a new socialism or a third way between real socialism and capitalism. However, the new party’s manifesto (12 September 1989) includes the term ‘ecologically oriented social democracy’, which is near to the previously stated aims of a third way program. Nevertheless, compared to other parties, the SDP was the most distanced against a radically reformed socialism in the autumn 1989.

In contrast, both Demokratie Jetzt (DJ) and Demokratischer Aufbruch (DA), two other important new groups, were aligning their program towards an alternative socialism. The founding declaration of the ‘DJ’ notes: State socialism ‘needs a peaceful and democratic renovation. […] All that for which the workers movement was striving, for social justice and solidarity, is in danger. If the socialism shall not get lost, it should realize now its proper, democratic form. It must not get lost because our endangered humanity searches for survivable forms of social life and therefore needs alternatives to the Western consumer society.’

The group DA on 2 October 1989 stated similar concerns about the crisis and the country’s need for a democratic transformation. After explaining this process, the statement added: ‘We will learn anew what socialism could mean for us.’ Among the appeals for a renewed democratic republic, the fifth demand is the ‘socialisation of property’; which would mean recover from the overwhelming nationalisation by building a mixed economy accompanied by forms of democratic employee participation. The DA also favoured the interplay of a planned economy and the market; they sought a society based on the principle of mutual solidarity and the ecologic conversion of industrial society.

In the founding declaration of the group Neues Forum (NF), the term ‘socialism’ is not used. However, if read carefully, the text also contains a ‘third-way concept’: ‘On the one side, we are striving for a broader offer of consumer goods; on the other side, we know the social and ecologic costs and favour the end of the growth without restraint. We want to open the door for economic initiatives but, at the same time, we are against a dog-eat-dog society. We would like to give space for the new; but sustain the proven, in order to live less wastefully and less in confrontation with nature. We strive for a well-regulated society, but we are against paternalism. We are in favour of free and self-confident people able to act with consideration of community interests.’ In contrast to other groups, the founders of ‘NF’ hoped to build a very broad social movement and thus gather very differently engaged people and groups. Therefore, they needed to avoid narrow terms. However, the direction of their intended political change should not culminate in joining the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) but in radically solving GDR problems in order to create a new society with higher standards than their Western neighbour. The message was clear: we strive to renovate our own state in order to find a better solution of the visible problems of Western industrial society. That could be seen from the negative use of certain terms like ‘growth without restraint’, ‘dog-eat-dog-society’, ‘confrontation with the nature’. Thus: What else was the aim of the NF other than the search for a ‘third way’?!

4. ‘Modern Socialism’ – the concept of the reform-oriented SED members

How can we describe the alternative goal of this group? I will analyse as an example the position of the so-called ‘socialism project at the Humboldt-University’.[10]

Dieter Rink clearly points out the restrictions of those concepts: The main aim was not true democratisation but the partial opening of the system in order to make it more efficient. In his opinion, the reformers from within the SED avoided contacts with the opposition groups in the church because the latter were regarded as rivals and not as potential allies. More than this, taking up the demands of the opposition groups was an attempt to take ‘the wind out of their sails’. (1997, p. 66). Kowalczuk put it in his own way; the ‘SED reformers’ (in his book, he always uses quotation marks to distinguish them from real reformers) should be understood as nothing but a late attempt of the SED to save its own power. Between the radical socialist aims of the SED reformers and the politics of the SED leadership, he does not see a relevant difference. (Kowalczuk 2009, pp. 311–312) In my mind, both interpretations are one-sided and overlook the reactions of the public to the concepts in autumn 1989. Let us look now at the papers of the reformers themselves.

The fundamental thesis of the socialism project at the Humboldt-University consists of an assessment of the existing socialism as being stuck in its initial status. More than this, this ‘crude communism’ was regarded as a partial reversal of the achievements of modern capitalism. Socialism was strongly challenged by recent worldwide progress. (Brie 1989, p. 19) Capitalism was apparently better adapted to these global trends. It had developed step by step many features of a ‘modern society’. (See the paper of Hans-Peter Krüger in: Brie 1989, p. 94 ff.) In the current modern socialism, the elements of a modern society should also be more strongely developed. (Brie 1989, pp. 25–27.)

From Michael Brie’s perspective, the first development stage of socialism is shaped by the paradigm of ‘socialism as a mono-subject’. Development of individuals has been subordinated to the reproduction of the whole of society. (pp. 33–35) The Russian Revolution in 1917 resulted in an understanding of communism based on the withdrawal of the ‘achievements of capitalism’. (p. 38) Crude communist concepts and the Russian tradition of a strong state were closely combined. (p. 39)

In the same publication, Rainer Land pointed out that the previous way of economic development should urgently change. Therefore, it would be necessary to learn from the development of modern capitalism but at the same time to avoid its unrestrained competition and enormous existential pressure. (pp. 65–66) Planning would be needed but in a changed manner, not exclusively by administrative means from above. This kind of change would require the reorganisation of the complete political system. (p. 72)

The political change is described in my paper.. The main thesis consists of: Without political progress, there can be no successful reorganisation of society. (p. 80) The main direction of socialism would consist in the completion of the state by ‘political society’. (p. 81) And, the relation to the ‘modern capitalism’ is newly defined as: ‘Socialist democracy is not something completely different from the bourgeois democracy. Bourgeois democracy contains elements of the political progress that could be continued in socialist societies.’ (pp. 81-82) This perspective refutes the fundamental thesis of Lenin (and other Communists afterwards) on Communist politics; Lenin had postulated: Socialist democracy is a million times more democratic than any bourgeois democracy. (Lenin 1918) In my paper the independent public, the securing of the political rights of every citizen and the bigger stability of democratic political systems will be regarded as necessary. In the entire paper, the term ‘leading role of the party’ is missing.

One important deficit of the group should be pointed out. The objectivity of the political progress in socialism is strongly emphasized.[11] It seems as if the authors would like to see that society is already moving in the right direction; nevertheless, further struggle is needed to reach the goal. Thinking in categories of an objectively moving progress could have eventually blocked insight into the urgent necessity of practical action.

I should confess – this important shortcoming in the model of the group’s thinking came to my mind only later. There was the danger that the precondition for objective progress, the assumed emergence of reform-oriented leaders at the very top of the party, could turn out to be an illusion. In the beginning, the group had a self-definition as advisers of politicians.

However, the top politicians in GDR had no interest in such advice.

Only in a second phase, starting in September 1989, did the group radically change its behaviour. It was not by accident that this change was caused by the mass exodus of citizens, which questioned the very existence of GDR and demonstrated the inability of the old leadership to act properly and in time.

The general aim did not change but the favoured political means did change. First, there was still a mix between old and new approaches – but a learning process had started. The group more actively sought reforms. The new role model was that of advisers for politicians who want to eventually overthrow the party leader Honecker: To bring down a government from below meant, in those circumstances, to carry out a putsch. But that phase continued with the assumption that the necessary coup d’état should be done by the rulers (or more precisely, its second level). As a matter of fact, the SED reformers still strongly overestimated the stability of power. However, the group was not alone in this respect.

In an attempt to attract potential plotters, the majority of group members wrote theses about the crisis of GDR. The paper sought to encourage actors who would be able to ‘do the right thing’. The whole paper was shaped by the following thesis: only those who take action can survive politically.[12] In that time of crisis, one tried to somehow find a substitute for the authorities’ lack of interest in reform.

The text on the deep crisis of GDR as a state had been distributed to people at the second level of the power (members of the central committee of SED, mainly out of the intelligentsia). We chose people that some of us knew personally.[13]

However, Rainer Land went his own way at that time. He tried to contact people from opposition groups and found a way to the media. During a rock concert at Berlin’s Church of the Redeemer (Erlöserkirche) church on 15 October, somebody read a paper prepared by Rainer in which our group announced the preparation of programs to solve urgent political problems such as the right of free travel to the West. Because a West German television station broadcast the concert, the message reached a broader public in GDR. Rainer Land as a member of the group opened a way out of the isolation, which was used then by the others as well but some days later, after 18 October, when Honecker and his closest allies resigned.[14]

This change then started a third phase in autumn 1989 in which the GDR intelligentsia and SED reformers found their way to independent political acting. Why this endeavour was unable to leave its mark in politics, I will discuss in the final section.

5. Why was there no third way in the GDR?

In comparison to the situation in other East Central European countries, the majority of actors in GDR in 1989 fighting for a change were still in favour of an alternative socialism. It is a fact that the two main alternative political groups, opposition and reform-oriented intelligentsia within the membership of SED, had similar concepts for the change. Why then were there no real alternatives to the politics of ‘German reunification’? In my opinion, there are three reasons:

Firstly, the two opposition groups did not have any form of cooperation during the respective window of opportunity from the middle of October until the middle of November. Possible reasons for that have already been discussed (see Land/Possekel 1998).

Secondly, both groups acquired important political influence only after the chaotic opening of the border when the majority of population was already on a particular way to a national solution, hoping that unification with the richer German country would quickly solve all economic and political problems of their own society.

The change in the mood of the majority of the GDR population came not by accident. It was influenced and pushed by the politics of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) government led by Helmut Kohl. Leading West German politicians had a strong influence in the electoral battle of GDR parties since the beginning of February 1990. A second condition was maintaining the highly preferable conditions to integrate GDR citizens moving to the West. However, the decisive act was the declaration of the West German government in favour of a quick currency union on 7 February 1990. Furthermore, West German Chancellor Kohl no longer supported the second GDR government led by Modrow, which was built by including representatives of the new political groups.

At the end, both of the two political groups seeking to renovate the GDR had little influence on the early elections in March 1990. Only those representatives of new groups that had joined the existing parties of the Federal Republic could exercise further influence. If they tried to stay alone, they failed politically such as the group ‘Bündnis 90’ or the GDR Greens. Together with the reformed SED, now called PDS, in the elections of March 1990, they received only slightly more than 20 percent of the votes. That was not enough to gain any bargaining power in the future constitutional decisions.

So far, we have discussed the inner power balance. A third reason for the failure lay in the international environment. The two respective forces for radical reforming the GDR had no realistic assessment of the international embedding of its state. A successful renovation of the GDR would have needed the interest of both a Soviet leadership and Western leaders. However, in 1989, the Soviet Union was already deeply destabilised and had therefore decided to give up its ‘outposts’ in Central Europe. (Dalos 2009) The USA had strong interests in the strengthening of its dominance in Europe. Therefore, they were mainly interested in a unified Germany within NATO. Counterstrategies directed towards simultaneous dissolution of the two military blocs were without any real chance due to the weakness of the Warsaw Pact and its main power. (Plato 2003, p. 410 ff.)


Bluhm, Harald et al. (1989): Texte zu Politik, Staat, Recht (Sozialismus in der Diskussion 2), Berlin: Dietz.

Brie, Michael et al. (Hrsg.) (1989): Philosophische Grundlagen der Erabeitung einer Konzeption des modernen Sozialismus, Materialien der Eröffnungsberatung November 1988, Humboldt-Universität 1989.

Brie, Michael (et al.) (1989b): Studie zur Gesellschaftsstrategie (Sozialismus in der Diskussion 1), Berlin: Dietz.

Brie, André et al. (1989c): Zur gegenwärtigen Lage der DDR und Konsequenzen für die Gestaltung der Politik der SED, in: Bluhm (1989), S. 79-107.

Dalos, György (2009):Vorhang auf… …Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.

Förster, Peter/Roski, Günter (1990): DDR zwischen Wende und Wahl – DDR-Meinungsforscher analysieren den Umbruch, Berlin: LinksDruck Verlag.

Geisel, Christof (2005): Auf der Suche nach einem dritten Weg. Das politische Selbstverständnis der DDR-Opposition in den 80er Jahren, Berlin: Ch.Links Verlag.

Kowalczuk, Ilko-Sascha (2009): Endspiel. Die Revolution von 1989 in der DDR, Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. (parallel zur Ausgabe im Münchener Piper-Verlag)

Land, Rainer (1989b): Vorwort zu ‘Studie zur Gesellschaftsstrategie’ (Autoren: Michael Brie, Rainer Land, Hannelore Petsch, Dieter Segert, Rosemarie Will), Berlin: Dietz 1989, S. 5-10.

Land, Rainer (1997): Reformbewegungen in der SED in den achtziger Jahren. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen, in: Pollack/Rink (1997), S. 129-144.

Land, Rainer/ Possekel, Ralf (1998): Fremde Welten: die gegensätzliche Deutung der DDR durch SED-Reformer und Bürgerbewegung in den achtziger Jahren, Berlin: Ch.Links Verlag.

Lenin, Wladimir Iljitsch (1918): Die proletarische Revolution und der Renegat Kautsky, in: Lenin Werke, Band 28, Berlin: Dietz Verlag 1955 – 1962, S. 225-327.

Neubert, Ehrhard: Unsere Revolution. Die Geschichte der Jahre 1989/90, München/Zürich: Piper.

Plato, Alexander von (2003): Die Vereinigung Deutschlands – ein weltpolitisches Machtspiel, Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.

Pollack, Detlef, Rink, Dieter (1997) (Hrsg.): Zwischen Verweigerung und Opposition. Politischer Protest in der DDR 1970 und 1989, Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus Verlag.

Rink, Dieter (1997): Ausreiser, Kirchengruppen, Kulturopposition und Reformer, in Pollack/Rink (1997), S. 54-77.

Segert, Dieter (2008): Das 41. Jahr. Eine andere Geschichte der DDR, Wien: Böhlau-Verlag.

Segert, Dieter (2009): Intelligenz und Macht – Der Beitrag der intellektuellen Dienstklasse zu Stabilität und Wandel in der DDR, Beitrag für den Band Astrid Lorenz/Werner Reutter (Hrsg.): ‘Ordnung und Wandel als Herausforderungen für Staat und Gesellschaft’ i. E.

Wielgohs, Jan (2008): DDR. Regimekritische und politisch-alternative Akteure (1949-1981), in: Roland Roth, Dieter Rucht (Hg.): Die sozialen Bewegungen in Deutschland seit 1945. Ein Handbuch. Frankfurt (M.): Campus, S. 109-132.

1. Unpublished opinion polls in 1988 indicated a sharp decrease in the younger population’s loyalty to the GDR and the SED program. (See Förster/Roski 1990)

2. Beside these two persons that had dared to directly confront the power-holders, other critical Marxists such as Wolfgang Heise, Uwe-Jens Heuer, Gerd Irrlitz, Lothar Kühne and Peter Ruben tried to avoid an open break with the party leaders.

3. For more detailed conditions of its emergence, see Wielgohs 2008.

4. LDPD: Liberal Democratic Party of the GDR, a bloc party that gain some influence in the beginning of the Wende.

5. See ‘Meinungsbarometer DDR im November 1989’, Question 14: [accessed on 28 April 2009]

6. That characterisation could be biased by his subjective approach (Kowalczuk 2009, pp. 16–17. He is seemingly convinced that ‘the opposition’ (positively assessed) could believe in such a thing as ‘socialism’ (negatively assessed).

7. He tried by his arguments to explain why, after 1990, several members of the opposition changed from a radical socialist position to a radical anticommunist one. (See, for example, Vera Wollenberger – today Lengsfeld). However, a good counterargument could be: not all former opposition members changed their position. (See, for example, Eberhard Richter)

8. In 2003, Geisel sent the questionnaire to 350 persons from the former GDR opposition. Of those surveyed, 142 answered fully or at least partially to the questions. (Geisel 2005: 240 f.)

9. One can find the respective texts at the webpage ‘DDR 89’: [accessed on 2009.28.04]

10. For the history of the group, see Segert 2008, p. 48 ff; p. 89 ff; p.126 ff.

11. See for example (Brie et al. 1989b, p. 20)

12. In this sense, the very beginning of the text notes: ‘Only in the case that our party takes the lead of the inevitable change are we able to preserve the socialist character of our society and can assure its achievements.’ (Brie et al, 1989c, p. 79)

13. This paper is the most controversial of all our texts. The first version had the title, ‘Theses on the crisis of GDR’. In public, the tenth thesis was most often quoted. It was interpreted as a demand for the prohibition of opposition groups, at least under certain circumstances. Given the fact that this paper was directed towards the (at this moment clearly not visible) reformers in the second level of the party leadership, in my opinion, it is possible to see another context of this respective thesis. That particular thesis notes: one should give the opposition ‘a restrained legal space’, and the borders of this space should be regulated by judicial decisions, not by administrative ones. In this light, the group ‘modern socialism’ has in fact defended the legal existence of the opposition against the potential reformer at the top. Also see Segert (2008, p. 75 ff.) Similar misleading is the interpretation of the paper from 22 October by Neubert (2008, p. 202). The litmus test could certainly be the handling of the ‘leading role’ in the paper that notes prominently: ‘The leading role could only be its function to take part in the public discussion with strategic arguments and by persuasive arguments.’ (Bluhm 1989, p. 68) Furthermore, the paper states that the way of united lists of candidates from the “National front” is outdated, the SED should take part in free elections. (p. 70) See also the paper written by Segert on 17 October on the necessary changes within the praxis of party politics. (p. 77)

14. See the press conferences of the group after late October. (See Segert 2008, p. 89 ff.)

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    Charles Gati is Senior Acting Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies and Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.     Print

  • Dessy Gavrilova

    Dessy Gavrilova is the founding Director of The Red House – Center for Culture and Debate in Sofia, Bulgaria.     Print

  • Keith Gessen

    Keith Gessen is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA.   Print

  • Gerhard Gnauck

    Warsaw correspondent for Die Welt
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  • Katya Gorchinskaya

    Managing Editor for Investigative Programming, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (REF/RL), Kyiv
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  • John Gray

    John Gray is Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.   Print

  • Rainer Gries

    Rainer Gries lehrt und forscht als Universitätsprofessor am Historischen Institut der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, am Institut für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft der Universität Wien sowie an der Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität Wien. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpuntken zählen u.a. die Gesellschaftsgeschichte Deutschlands und Österreichs im 20. Jahrhundert und die Geschichte des Konsums in Europa.   Print

  • Eva Hahn

    Read more

  • Gábor Halmai

    Professor of Law, Department of European Studies; Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
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  • Elemer Hankiss

    Professor für Politikwissenschaft, Eötvös Lorand Universität, Budapest; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
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  • Miklós Haraszti

    Miklós Haraszti is a writer, journalist, human rights advocate and university professor. He served the maximum of two terms as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media from 2004 to 2010. Currently he is Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia Law School, New York. Haraszti studied philosophy and …
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  • Sabine Hark

    Sabine Hark forscht an der Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Potsdam, Professur für Frauenforschung.   Print

  • Annemieke Hendriks

    Freelance journalist, Berlin
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  • Charles Hirschman

    Charles Hirschman is Boeing International Professor at the Department of Sociology and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Washington University.     Print

  • Jennifer L. Hochschild

    Jennifer L. Hochschild is Professor of Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Professor of African and African-American Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.   Print

  • Yaroslav Hrytsak

    History, Central European University Budapest
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  • Richard Hyman

    Richard Hyman ist Professor für Politikwissenschaft an der London School of Economics.   Print

  • Vladislav Inozemtsev

    Professor of Economics at Higher School of Economics; Director, Centre for Post-Industrial Studies, Moscow
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  • Bruce P. Jackson

    Bruce P. Jackson is the founder and President of the Project on Transitional Democracies. The Project is a multi-year endeavour aimed at accelerating the pace of reform in post-1989 democracies and advancing the date for the integration of these democracies into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic. Jackson has written extensively about the engagement of Russia …
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  • Tom Junes

    Visiting Researcher, Warsaw University, and Visiting Lecturer in Polish history, KULeuven, Belgium
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  • Alex J. Kay

    Alex J. Kay holds a PhD in History from the Humboldt University Berlin.   Print

  • Anatoly M. Khazanov

    Anatoly M. Khazanov ist Professor für Anthropologie an der University of Wisconsin, Madison.   Print

  • Cornelia Klinger

    Professor of Philosophy, University of Tübingen
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  • Gudrun-Axeli Knapp

    Professor of Social Sciences and Social Psychology, University of Hannover
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  • Jacek Kochanowicz

    Jacek Kochanowicz is Professor for Economic History at Warsaw University.       Print

  • Michal Kopecek

    International Relations, Charles University Prague
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  • János Kornai

    János Kornai is Prof. em. for Economics  at Harvard University and Permanent Fellow at the Collegium Budapest – Institute for Advanced Study. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Academia Europeae, and Foreign Member of the American, British, Bulgarian, Finnish, Russian and Swedish Academies. He has served as President of …
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  • Bilyana Kourtasheva

    Post-Doc in Theory and History of Literature, New Bulgarian University, Sofia
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  • János Mátyás Kovács

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Senior member of RECET, Institute of East European History, Vienna University; Professor of Economic History, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
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  • Ivan Krastev

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Chair of the Board, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
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  • Yustyna Kravchuk

    PhD candidate in Film and Media Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv
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  • Jacek Kucharczyk

    Jacek Kucharczyk ist Head of Programs am Institute of Public Affairs in Warschau.   Print

  • Aleksander Kwasniewski

    Aleksander Kwasniewski war Präsident Polens. Seine Amtszeit verlief von 1995 bis 2005 über zwei Legislaturperioden.   Print

  • Mladen Lazic

    Professor of Sociology, University of Belgrade
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  • Claus Leggewie

    Professor für Politikwissenschaft, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
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  • Mark Leonard

    Co-founder and Director, European Council on Foreign Relations
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  • André Liebich

    Honorary Professor of International History and Politics, Graduate Institute, Geneva
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  • Burkhard Liebsch

    Burkhard Liebsch ist Professor für Philosophie an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum.   Print

  • Michal Luczewski

    Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, Warsaw University
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  • Charles S. Maier

    Charles S. Maier ist Direktor des Center for European Studies, Harvard University.   Print

  • Andrey Makarychev

    Andrey Makarychev ist Professor und Research Fellow am Institut Osteuropäische Studien an der Freien Universität Berlin.   Print

  • Michał Maciej Matlak

    Ph.D. candidate, Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Florence
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  • Erik Meyer

    Erik Meyer ist seit 2000 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Sonderforschungsbereich ‘Erinnerungskulturen’ an der Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen.   Print

  • Krzysztof Michalski

    IWM Founding Rector
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  • Hans J. Misselwitz

    Hans-Jürgen Misselwitz ist ein deutscher SPD-Politiker und Gründungsmitglied des Instituts Solidarische Moderne.   Print

  • Alessandro Monsutti

    Alessandro Monsutti is an associate professor of anthropology and development sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, as well as research associate at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. He worked as a consultant for several nongovernmental and international organizations, icnluding UNHCR. His book War and Migration: Social Networks …
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  • Jan-Werner Müller

    Professor of Politics, Princeton University

    Visiting Fellow
    (September 2016 – August 2017)
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  • Rainer Münz

    Professor für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
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  • Sighard Neckel

    Professor of Sociology, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main
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  • Katherine Newman

    Katherine S. Newman is the James B. Knapp Dean of The Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. She is a widely published expert on poverty and the working poor who led major interdisciplinary initiatives at Princeton and Harvard universities.     Print

  • Pierre Nora

    Pierre Nora lehrt Geschichte an der École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris.   Print

  • Tereza Novotna

    Political Science, Boston University
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  • Ewald Nowotny

    Ewald Nowotny is Governor of the Austrian National Bank.   Print

  • Thomas Nowotny

    Thomas Nowotny teaches Political Science at the University of Vienna. He has been Austrian diplomat, private secretary to Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, senior political counselor to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and consultant to the OECD.   Print

  • Vlad Odobescu

    Freelance journalist, Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Bucharest
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  • Andrzej Paczkowski

    Professor für Geschichte, Institut für Politische Studien, Polnische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Warschau
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  • Emilia Palonen

    Politics, University of Essex
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  • Irina Papkova

    Irina Papkova is a Research Fellow of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. She spent five years teaching at the Department of International Relations and European Studies at Central European University, Budapest.   Print

  • Agnieszka Pasieka

    Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the Martin Luther University, Halle/Saale
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  • Gleb Pavlovsky

    President, Center of Effective Policies; Member, Public Chamber of the Russian Federation; Editor-in-Chief, The Russian Journal, Moscow
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  • György Péteri

    Professor of Contemporary European History, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
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  • Tanja Petrovic

    Tanja Petrovic works at the Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana.   Print

  • David Petruccelli

    PhD candidate in History, Yale University
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  • Alexander von Plato

    Alexander von Plato ist ein deutscher Philosoph und Historiker. Er gründete das Instituts für Geschichte und Biographie an der Fernuniversität Hagen, das er bis 2007 leitete. Von 1996 bis 2000 war er Sekretär der International Oral History Association, von 2006 bis 2008 deren Vizepräsident. Er ist Mitherausgeber und Redakteur von BIOS – Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung, Oral …
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  • Andrei Pleșu

    Andrei Pleșu ist Rektor des New Europe College, Bukarest. 1989- 1991 war er rumänischer Kulturminister und 1997- 1999 rumänischer Außenminister.   Print

  • Martin Pollack

    Martin Pollack, geb. 1944 in OÖ, studierte Slawistik und osteuropäische Geschichte. Er war von 1987 bis 1998 Redakteur des “Spiegel” in Warschau und Wien und lebt heute als Schriftsteller und literarischer Übersetzer in Wien und Bocksdorf im Südburgenland. 2011 erhielt er den Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung und 2012 den Stanislaw-Vincenz-Preis. Zuletzt erschien von ihm …
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  • Krzysztof Pomian

    Krzysztof Pomian is Professor of History at the Nicolaus Copernicus University (Toruń) and Academic Director of the Museum of Europe in Brussels.   Print

  • Romano Prodi

    Romano Prodi war von September 1999 bis November 2004 Präsident der Europäischen Kommission.   Print

  • Lipin Ram

    PhD candidate and teaching assistant in Anthropology and Sociology of Development, Graduate Institute, Geneva
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  • Mykola Riabchuk

    Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Political and Nationalities’ Studies, Academy of Sciences, Kyiv
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  • Edelbert Richter

    Edelbert Richter ist deutscher Theologe, Politiker und war Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages.   Print

  • Paul Ricoeur

    Paul Ricoeur ist Philosoph und war Professor Emeritus an der University of Chicago und an der Sorbonne. Er war Mitglied der Académie Francaise und Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats des IWM. Er starb 2005.   Print

  • Michel Rocard

    Michel Rocard, former First Secretary of the French Socialist Party and a member of the European Parliament for 15 years, was Prime Minister of France from 1988 to 1991.   Print

  • Akos Rona-Tas

    Akos Rona-Tas is professor at the Sociology Department of the University of California, San Diego and a research associate at Met@risk, INRA, Paris. He is the author of the books Plastic Money: Constructing Markets for Credit Cards in Eight Postcommunist Countries (with Alya Guseva, 2014) and Surprise of the Small Transformation: Demise of Communism and …
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  • Lew Rubinstein

    Lew Rubinstein lebt als Poet und Essayist in Moskau. Nach dem Studium der Philologie war er als Bibliothekar tätig. Seit Ende der 1960er-Jahre verfasst er poetische Arbeiten, seit 1974 serielle Textzyklen als so genannte Kartotheken. Zusammen mit Andrej Monastyrskij, Dimitrij A. Prigov und Vladimir Sorokin gilt er als wichtigster Vertreter des Moskauer Konzeptualismus. Print

  • Jacques Rupnik

    Geschichte und Politikwissenschaft, Paris
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  • Claudia Šabic

    Claudia Šabi? ist Politikwissenschaftlerin und Ethnologin. Seit 1998 ist sie Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main. Print

  • Ranabir Samaddar

    Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group
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  • Paul Sanders

    Paul Sanders is a historian and management scholar. He is a full-time professor at Reims Management School in Reims, France. He has published across the disciplines of history, international relations and leadership.   Print

  • Karl Schlögel

    Karl Schlögel war Professor für Osteuropäische Geschichte zuerst an der Universität Konstanz, dann an der Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder. Nach seiner Emeritierung arbeitet er an einer Archäologie des Kommunismus und einer Geschichte des Wolgaraumes. Zurzeit ist er City of Vienna/IFK Fellow am IFK in Wien.     Print

  • Thomas Schmid

    Thomas Schmid is the publisher of the WELT Group, Berlin. He worked for various newspapers, among them as editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. From 2006 to 2010 he was Editor-in-Chief of Die Welt.   Print

  • Margit Schratzenstaller

    Margit Schratzenstaller is senior researcher at the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) and is currently coordinating (together with Karl Aiginger and Stefan Ederer) ‘WWW for Europe’, a 4-year research project within the 7th Framework Program funded by the European Commission.   Print

  • Dieter Segert

    Dieter Segert ist Professor für Transformationsprozesse in Mittel-, Südost- und Osteuropa am Institut für Politikwissenschaft der Universität Wien. Seit September 2007 ist er Mitglied des Vorstandes des IDM Wien, seit Juni 2008 Mitglied der Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften zu Berlin.   Print

  • Victoriya Sereda

    Sociologie, Ivan-Franko-Universität, Lviv
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  • Michel Serres

    Michel Serres ist Philosoph und Mitglied der Académie Française.   Print

  • Anton Shekhovtsov

    PhD in Political Science
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  • Marci Shore

    Associate Professor of History, Yale University

    Visiting Fellow
    (July 2020 – June 2021)
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  • Sławomir Sierakowski

    Director, Institute for Advanced Study, Warsaw; Founder, "Krytyka Polityczna" movement
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  • Sara Silverstein

    Ph.D. Candidate in Modern European and International History, Yale University
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  • Ondřej Slačálek

    Assistant Professor of Political Science, Charles University, Prague
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  • Aleksander Smolar

    Political Science, Paris
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  • Timothy Snyder

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University
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  • George Soros

    George Soros is a pioneer of the hedge-fund industry, investor and philanthropist, he is the author of many books, including Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States: Essays (2012), The Soros Lectures: At the Central European University (2010), The Crash of 2008 and What it Means: The New Paradigm for Finance Markets (2009).   …
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  • Robert Spaemann

    Robert Spaemann ist Professor em. für Philosophie an der Universität München.   Print

  • Pawel Spiewak

    Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Philosophy, Warsaw University
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  • Wilfried Stadler

    Wilfried Stadler ist Unternehmensberater, Wirtschaftspublizist und Honorarprofessor an der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien. Bis 2009 war er Vorstandsvorsitzender einer österreichischen Spezialbank für Unternehmensfinanzierung.   Print

  • Rudolf Stamm

    Rudolf Stamm war von 1975 bis 1988 Korrespondent der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung für Osteuropa und Österreich, anschließend bis 1999 für Italien, dann bis zu seiner Pensionierung 2002 für die USA mit Sitz in Washington D.C. Er starb 2010 in der Schweiz. 1985 erscheinen seine NZZ-Reportagen aus Osteuropa in dem Band Alltag und Tradition in Osteuropa. …
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  • Paul Starr

    Paul Starr ist Professor für Soziologie an der Princeton University und Mitherausgeber von The American Prospect. Er ist Pulitzer-Preisträger.   Print

  • Martina Steer

    ÖAW APART Fellow (History)
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  • Kristina Stoeckl

    Research Director
    APART Fellow, Austrian Academy of Sciences; Department of Political Sciences, University of Vienna
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  • Roman Szporluk

    Roman Szporluk is Professor em. of Ukrainian History at Harvard and Professor em. of History at the University of Michigan. He is a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev, Ukraine. His research focuses on modern Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish history, and on Marxism and nationalism in Eastern Europe.   Print

  • Charles Taylor

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Professor em. of Philosophy, McGill University, Montréal
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  • Maria Teteriuk

    PhD candidate in Mass Communications and senior lecturer in Media Studies, National University of 'Kyiv-Mohyla Academy', Ukraine
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  • Philipp Ther

    Junior Professor of Polish and Ukrainian Studies, Europa-Universität Frankfurt / Oder
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  • Maria Todorova

    Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
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  • Balázs Trencsényi

    Balázs Trencsényi, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the Department of History, CEU. His research focuses on the comparative history of political thought in East Central Europe and the history of historiography. He is co-director of Pasts, Inc., Center for Historical Studies at CEU and Associate Editor of the periodical East Central Europe (Brill). He was …
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  • Stefan Troebst

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  • Marius Turda

    Lecturer in the Education Abroad Program, Eötvös Lorand University, Faculty of Humanities, Budapest
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  • Andreas Umland

    Andreas Umland ist Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Euro-Atlantische Kooperation Kiew sowie Herausgeber der Buchreihe Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, ibidem-Verlag Stuttgart. Print

  • Victoria Vasilenko

    Assistant Professor of Contemporary History and International Relations, Belgorod National Research University
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  • David G. Victor

    David G. Victor is a Professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he directs the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.   Print

  • Harald Welzer

    Harald Welzer ist Forschungsprofessor für Sozialpsychologie an der Universität Witten/Herdecke und Direktor des Center for Interdisciplinary Memory Research am Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts Essen.   Print

  • Karolina Wigura

    Adjunct of the History of Ideas, University of Warsaw; Co-Editor of Kultura Liberalna
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  • Volodymyr Yermolenko

    Volodymyr Yermolenko is a Ukrainian philosopher and essayist. He has a degree in Political Science from the EHESS, Paris, and teaches at Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Kyiv. He is the author of the book Narrator and Philosopher: Walter Benjamin and his time (2011, in Ukrainian). Print

  • Oksana Zabuzhko

    Free-lance writer, Kiev
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  • Tatiana Zhurzhenko

    IWM Research Director, Russia in Global Dialogue and Ukraine in European Dialogue
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