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Germany

CDU Demands Clarity on Germany's "Second Dictatorship"

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is set to approve a position paper outlining its views on how to avoid historical revisionism when it comes to former East Germany.

A watchtower on the former border between East and West Germany

The CDU says the cruel realities of life in the GDR are being glossed over

Looking ahead to the 20th anniversary of the uprising in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the party says it is concerned with an increasing sense of nostalgia for the old communist regime.

"Twenty years after the end of the GDR, there should be no forgetting and no repressing," reads the draft of the document, which is set to be signed on Monday, Sept. 15.

The 21-page paper will be presented as a motion at the CDU's next party conference in Stuttgart at the beginning of December. It calls for the division of Germany into two states after World War II, the crimes committed by the East German regime and the revolution that culminated with the regime's downfall in 1989 to become mandatory topics covered in history lessons in German schools.

Studies have indicated an alarming lack of knowledge about events in East Germany among German pupils.

The CDU is also calling for the creation of a permanent professorship for research into the GDR at one of Berlin's universities, and additional monuments commemorating the East German population's struggle for freedom in both Berlin and Leipzig.

Challenging the Left party

The move is partly an attempt to halt the rise of the Left party in the eastern states. According to recent polls, the Left party now rivals the conservatives in eastern Germany with support ratings of 28 percent.

Repainted Trabant

All things East German have become trendy -- like this Trabant with a fresh coat of paint

In its position paper, the CDU describes the Left Party as the "direct successors of the East German regime, which was responsible for the repression and surveillance" of its people.

The Left party "propagates an historical image of the GDR as a large-scale socio-political experiment, not as a totalitarian regime that had no regard for human rights," the draft says.

Members of the CDU's coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have had mixed reactions to the campaign. SPD General Secretary Hubertus Heil said the campaign will only serve to further solidify the Left party, which was created in 2007 as a merger of the communist PDS, successors to the governing party in East Germany, and the WASG, the labor and social justice movement.

But the Social Democrat minister responsible for reconstruction projects in eastern Germany, Wolfgang Tiefensee, welcomed the CDU's initiative, particularly the emphasis on improving the way this period of German history is taught in schools.

He also told the Dresden-based Saechsiche Zeitung that he wished more parents would speak with their children about life in the GDR "with all its facets -- the good and the bad."

DW.DE