FRG: Soft on Nazi but Hard on ex-GDR Civil Servants

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Tue Apr 25 11:20:30 PDT 2000

Dorothy J. Rosenberg writes in "Shock Therapy: GDR Women in Transition from a Socialist Welfare State to a Social Market Economy," _Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society_ 17.1 (1991):

***** Upon unification on October 3, 1990, the West German legal code took effect (with certain exceptions) in GDR territory. The Bonn coalition had announced August 23, 1990, that all superior rights or benefits provided in the GDR would be reduced to FRG levels. The two social insurance systems were not joined, however: based on lower wages in the GDR -- but no longer justified by lower costs -- a lower level of pension, early retirement, unemployment, and health insurance benefits continued to be paid in the former GDR. In fact, in an unprecedented move, the Bonn government has reduced and capped the pensions of doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, college professors, and public administrators, along with other public employees in the former GDR. This means that East German professionals, who earned significantly less than their colleagues in the West, are being punished as retirees for having failed to emigrate. Women, who were concentrated in public administration, education, medicine, and the judiciary, are especially affected. This petty and arbitrary new policy becomes even more offensive when compared to the generosity shown to retired fascist civil servants in postwar West Germany. Virtually all former Nazi members in public employment received their full pensions. *****

Rosenberg offers most striking information on how the FRG has coddled (mostly male) Nazi civil servants, while taking harsh measures to reduce ex-GDR civil servants -- many of whom are women -- to poverty in a footnote:

***** Unemployment, previously unknown in the GDR, was reported as 9.5 percent in the former GDR (837,000 people as of April 19991) [Yoshie: In 1999, the official unemployment rate rose to "one in five, double the rate in the west" (Quentin Peel, _Financial Times_ 4 November 1999)]. This modest figure is achieved by not including among the unemployed approximately 500,000 forced into early retirement, 500,000-600,000 suspended civil servants, or the more than 2 million workers on temporary "short-term," whose protection against being laid off expired June 30, 1991.[6]

[6] "Westwanderung halt an, Arbeitslosigkeit im Osten steigt weiter" (Westward movement continues, unemployment in the east rises higher) _Deutschland Nachrichten_ (May 10, 1991), 5; and Christine Klenner, "Sollen wir das langer hinnehmen? Arbeitsmarktlage nd weitere Aussichten" (Should we put up with this any longer? The labor market situation and future prospects) (March 1, 1991, typescript). Civil servants present a special problem. The West German civil service includes not only the judiciary, public defenders and prosecutors, postal workers, and civil administrators, but university professors, teachers, doctors, and scientific researchers. And the East German system was even broader. Civil Servants, or _Beamete_, enjoy guarantees of lifetime employment as well as generous pensions and other benefits. To avoid extending these rights to former East German civil servants, who are considered to be ideologically suspect, the Bonn government has defined all former GDR federal civil servants as public employees (_Angestellte_) who do not share these rights. Over half a million members of these groups were placed on a so-called waiting list at 70 percent of their normal salary until June 30, 1991, after which they were to be fired. This procedure was declared constitutional on April 24, 1991 by the German Constitutional Court, which found the measure to be "necessary to build as quickly as possible a modern, efficient administration working according to the rule of law." See "Warteschleife verfassungsgemaB" (Waiting list constitutional), _Deutschland Nachrichten_ (April 26, 1991), 3; "6 Academic Institutions in Eastern Germany Closed by State Officials; Several Departments Dissolved," _Chronicle of Higher Education_ (January 16, 1991), A41, A43; and "Uber die Evaluation zum Bankrott?" (Bankruptcy by way of evaluation?) _Neues Deutschland_ (January 23, 1991), 9. Bonn is offering West German civil servants a tax-free monthly bonus of up to $1,500 to replace them; see David Goodhart, "'Selfish' Officials Attacked by Employer's Organization Chief," _Financial Times_ (May 2, 1991), international ed., 2; western Germans working in the former GDR are routinely paid West German-level salaries, significantly higher than their eastern counterparts. These policies are particularly striking compared with the West German postwar practice of retaining virtually all National Socialist civil servants not convicted of crimes against humanity and recognizing the pension rights of those few who were dismissed; see Ralph Giordano, _Die zweite Schuld, oder Von der Last Deutscher zu sein (Hamburg: Rasch & Rohring, 1987). *****

Neither the FRG nor Japan underwent real "de-Nazification." Americans preferred to restore fascists to public life, while purging Reds in both countries. In Italy, Americans worked with the Mafia to suppress Communists.


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