Memories of the first free choice of the GDR

Memories of the first free choice of the GDR

© Frank Kleefeldt / dpa
Big rush. On March 18, 1990, GDR citizens voted for the first time freely over the members of the People’s Chamber.

The first free election of the GDR 30 years ago was an event for the citizens. A personal reminder.

That has never been there: You push the curtain aside on the voting booth, go in, read the long piece of paper with the names of the parties (19) and electoral alliances (5) and make your cross in the circle of your favorite. Finished.

In front of the door of the polling station, someone from ZDF holds the microphone under your nose and wants to know who you voted for. I do the man a favor, I have nothing to hide. We live in a new time. In the wonderful year of anarchy. Everything is possible: the thoughts are free and we can choose what we want.

The time when every voter was just a slip of paper is over, as is that of most of the “National Front candidates” who were certainly not just villains, but, as we hoped voters, were honorable people here and there. Now a new era begins, of which one only knows party names and promises, but connects hopes and wishes with his cross.

It is March 18, 1990. It happened 30 years ago: The first free election to a parliament in the GDR, the People’s Chamber, which was to decide one day soon that the GDR would join the Federal Republic. Not everyone wanted that, but most were fed up with the GDR. Now there were completely new goals, messages and publicly expressed wishes: freedom, equality, fraternity.

“This ailing here”

Yes, it was a revolution. Without bloodshed and “head down!” – roar, with winners and defeated. The inferiors were willing to learn democratic children of the German state, not everyone wanted to be. “The independence of the GDR has been squandered and wasted here and not because of the fault of West Germany.

This ailing place has no chance of establishing an association with dignity, ”said the writer Christoph Hein in an interview. “There is no question of self-assertion in the GDR. It’s about the handover to the FRG – on your knees and with the white flag ”. Civil rights activist Barbel Bohley said in a story in the “Stern” in March 1990: “Today we are opposition again, no matter how the election ends”.


Her hope of being able to preserve the GDR was not fulfilled. “We should have assumed power on November 9th, then Mr. Kohl would talk to us differently today. Now it’s all about unconditional surrender. That means robbing these 16 million people of their history and leaving them no time to determine their own destiny. ” Jens Reich from the New Forum complains in the “Spiegel”: “We could not develop democracy ourselves, the Bonn hippopotamus killed the little plant”.

The rest is history.

As much going on as when the wall opened

Helmut Kohl, the heavyweight from Bonn, and Lothar de Maiziere, the small, delicately strung musical CDU man from the GDR: this unequal couple said a lot. The lawyer seemed somewhat uncertain, disheveled, at a loss and overwhelmed when he walked through the scenes of the Palace of the Republic on election evening, overwhelmed by the well-wishers. “Oh, thank you, who knows what all this will be,” he says, “it is just beginning.”

There is so much going on in the forecourt like the opening of the wall at the Brandenburg Gate. Dozens of OB vans from radio and television stations from Europe and the rest of the world are lined up, the palace is the center of the day. It is ideal for such a media hit, the cream of the reporters is there, there are Halberstadt sausages, Radeberger beer and wine from Elbe and Saale-Unstrut.

The palace is degraded and torn down after the election high, and there is also no longer the architecturally praised “maple leaf” in which the CDU celebrated its victory. In the “Chronik der Wende”, a standard work from the Christoph Links Verlag, you can read what other politicians said about the outcome of the election: Willy Brandt said that German unity was quickly elected without any ifs and buts.

“I hope that we can travel with real money in the summer,” said election winner Lothar de Maiziere into the microphones. Wolfgang Ullmann from “Demokratie Jetzt” is bitterly disappointed, and Stefan Heym comments on the outcome of the election on GDR television:There will be no more GDR. It will be nothing but a footnote in world history ”.

Otto Schily holds a crooked yellow fruit in the cameras: people would have chosen “banana”, and Oskar Lafontaine (SPD) blamed his party’s desire for “cabbage and coal” for the defeat of his party. And everyone was a bit right …


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