With a need to find something sufficiently interesting that I could still do while exhausted and on an airplane for at least two hours followed by another hour of subway, I found this book on the fall of the Berlin Wall by Egon Krenz who was head of East Germany for less than two months after Honecker resigned. It was translated to Chinese and published by if I remember correctly the press of the CPC party school.
Last year I learned about Honecker and Krenz on English media, and the English media described Krenz and some others as having gone to Beijing in 89 to thank Deng and CPC for violent suppression of the protests. In his book he said such was not the case. He claimed that he merely went there for the October 1st national day and that his official stance on Tiananmen incident was really quite moderate.
Afterwards Honecker resigned amidst pressure and Krenz himself seemed instrumental towards the decision to open the wall, to permit travel to West Germany using merely id card. Ironically the West Germans still needed visa to go to East Germany. Krenz’s actions and stance seemed very liberal compared to those of his predecessor Honecker who he characterized as a Stalinist.
English wiki says Krenz was sentenced to six years in jail in 1997. I think he underestimated the extent to which removing such travel restriction would result in his loss of power and humiliation. It seems that those high up in East Germany pretty much all got screwed after reunification. It’s analogous to Russians wanting to integrate with the West and getting more screwed by their associated actions of overly trusting nature. Krenz’s actions made him come across as more of a somewhat naive capitulator as opposed to a hardliner, unlike how the English media would portray him. I’m sure he was influenced to some extent by that idiot Gorbachev.
Krenz still visits China it seems and the Chinese government press portrays him in a good light, translating and publishing his books too. According to Chinese government, Krenz has high opinion of Chinese economic development.
Now we’re verging on Cold War II but this time liberal market democracy no longer has a real material advantage, which has much to do with China’s having caught up a lot. As much as propaganda and media matters reality of economics and technology and living standards matters more. In Krenz’s book he wrote about how the economic disparity between West Germany and East Germany was very visible in the 80s and made the East Germans suspicious. So they naturally wanted integration with the West. But when you’re weaker, integration doesn’t necessarily do you much good, you just become a subordinate under the new system. I’d bet even adjusting for population, there are several times fewer East Germans in high up positions in Germany today especially politically.
From now on I’m going to avoid even more the English language media as such information keeps proving unreliable and malicious.
Link to translated book: 大墙倾倒之际：克伦茨回忆录.
PDF for download: 克伦茨回忆录PDF