Finally the biggest bitch of the former German Democratic Republic is death. She was a militarist woman, dictatorial to the core, unable to see why the working class of East Germany rose up to demand freedom. In her dogmatic mind, her GDR was a ”socialist paradise” a society of good people against the evil capitalist world. Margot Honecker, wife of Erich Honecker died on 6 may 2016 age 89!
The name Honecker will forever be linked to the last 20 years of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Erich Honecker was the apprentice of Walter Ulbricht, the first Stalinist dictator. He was given power over the Soviet occupation zone in East Germany in 1949. Joseph Stalin favored Ulbricht because he and Wilhelm Pieck, were true Stalinist puppets. While many of their comrades died during the Great Terror, Ulbricht and Pieck survived as Germans by working with Stalin against critical communists (who were executed)!
East Germany was not meant to be a socialist republic. Joseph Stalin wanted a neutral bourgeois democratic Germany as bufferzone between him and the capitalist west. The Communist Party of Germany showed their loyality to the bourgeois system by flying the banner of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933), a capitalist state they once rejected in the 1920’s. A fusion with the social democratic SPD was also demanded by Stalin. This only worked in East Germany, were the SPD and KPD fused into the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED)!
Walter Ulbricht became general secretary and Wilhelm Pieck was elected President of the GDR, a ceremonial function. Ulbricht follow the classic Stalinist line and carried out a totaltiarian top-down regime that forced East German workers to work harder and longer. In 1953, workers of East Berlin went on strike against the high demands of the SED. Walter Ulbricht panicked and feared a revolution of workers as state bosses were kicked out of workplaces. It seemed that the party lost control, Soviet T-34 tanks were called to end workers self-management. Over 3.000 strikers were arrested, 1.500 got long prison sentences!
At that time a young woman was a rising star in the SED bureaucracy. Margot Feist, a dogmatic supporter of Walter Ulbricht had joined the KPD in 1945 at age 18. She became a member of the Free German Youth, the youth organisation of the SED. A year after the FDJ was created, Margot was already a member of the leadership. Impressed by her loyalty to the party and Stalinist orthodoxy, she was allowed to become a member of the GDR parliament at age 23. Margot was then elected as member of the National Front!
She met her future husband Erich Honecker two years later in Moscow. Honecker led the East German delegation at Stalin’s birthday. Although Erich was 15 years older and married, a romance grew between the two of them. Honecker was by then the leader of the Free German Youth and Margot was leader of the Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organisation. Their time in Moscow led to an affair which resulted in a divorce as Erich left his second wife to marry Margot in 1955. She became known as Margot Honecker!
As the wife of the FDJ leader, Margot enjoyed status and privileged most Stalinist leaders enjoyed. Although they were granted a large house, Margot and Erich choose modesty and did not bought expensive furniture. After the SED regime collapsed in 1990, it was found that the household of the Honeckers had not changed in 40 years. Although they lived in an elitist community protected by the Ministry of State Security (Stasi), their home was still decorated with the furniture of the 1950’s!
Erich left his position as leader of the FDJ and moved to Moscow were he was present when Nikita Khrushchev gave his secret speech, denouncing Stalin and his crimes against the USSR. Like most stalinists he was shocked and feared for his own position. Still Walter Ulbricht stayed in power and made Erich Honecker a full member of the Politburo of the SED. It was Honecker who was the prime organizer to build the ”Anti-Fascist Protection Wall” as the regime called the Berlin Wall. Honecker also supported the order by Ulbricht that border-guards were to open fire on people fleeing East Germany. Between 1961 and 1989, 138 were killed as they tried to escape the totalitarian regime!
In the 1960’s, the East German government realized that their ”socialist” model could not keep up with West German capitalism. Unwilling to accept that their top-down and deeply undemocratic system did not work, they embraced a new concept called the New Economic System. This system relaxed government control and was meant to increase production. There were two big problems, one was a lack of raw materials which East Germany needed. Second, because it lacked these raw materials it needed to import them from the USSR. While West Germany had access to foreign markets and were given billions by the USA, the USSR took what little means of production survived the second world war as payment, leaving East Germany with few economic means!
A final reason for the limited economic growth were the party bureaucrats, who wanted to keep absolute economic and political power for themselves. These people could not see the limits of their bureaucratic planned economy. Any criticism was called ”anti-socialist” and denounced as ”western capitalist”. Although the Socialist Unity Party of Germany was in absolute control, it feared the working class. In Stalinist Poland, the Polish United Workers Party faced many strikes by angry workers. Poland was far less developed and unlike East Germany, had a far weaker planned economy. Walter Ulbricht wanted to prevent civil unrest but because of his Stalinist thinking, he could never understand why so many East Germans favored the western world!
Margot Honecker made her move to education. In 1963 at age 36, she was made Minister for Education. It became her role to ”educate” (brainwash) the youth of East Germany. Although she called herself a ”humanist” her reign was marked by deep political conservatism (in the Stalinist way), militarism and dogmatism. She turned the whole school system into a brainwashing center. Critical thinking was out of the question, children were not raised as free individuals, but as ”loyal socialist citizens”. Those who rebelled got denounced as ”anti-socialist” or ”criminally disruptive of society”. Margot wanted schools to raise the future ”socialist citizens” so she made sure that children were separated from their parents, if these parents were showing signs of ”hostility” towards the GDR!
In the early 1960’s, the top leadership of the party and state were moved into the Waldsiedlung. This was a specially build zone in which the GDR leaders would live. Margot and Erich Honecker were granted a relative large house and 180m2 of land. Inside their elite community, the Honeckers enjoyed western products not available for average workers. East Germans were not allowed to buy ”capitalist” products or drive in western cars. They were forced to buy either the Trabant 601 or Wartburg 353, Soviet cars were available but expensive!
Although good cars in the 1960’s, the Trabant 601 and Wartburg 353 were outdated by the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. East German leaders refused to drive the little Trabant car. They drove the luxurious GAZ Chaika, a Soviet car produced in the 1960’s. In the last 10 years before the collapse, Waldsiedlung was called Volvograd by East Germans because Erich Honecker and his elitist circle, choose to drive Swedish Volvo cars!
Walter Ulbricht was forced out of office in 1971. Despite his efforts, the East German economy was inferior to the West German capitalist system. Also Soviet leaders wanted the old Stalinist gone, so they turned to Erich Honecker. Moscow never liked the idea of installing technocrats as economic leaders. They wanted party control, not technocrat control. The State Council selected Honecker as new chairman. Erich was not the type who made al decisions alone. He was the head of state but unlike Walter Ulbricht, Honecker could never rule on his own. It was also not his personality to rule alone. At home Margot controlled what he did and what happend in the household. In his whole life, Erich Honecker was never in absolute control!
With her husband now head of state, Margot Honecker became the First Lady of the German Democratic Republic. She kept her position as Minister of Education and started to introduce military training to children in 1978. Many churches and parents protested against her militarism, but Margot wanted her ”future socialist citizens” to be ready to defend the ”socialist fatherland” against a possible war with the ”class enemies”. By the 1980’s, she was the most hated woman in all of East Germany. While Erich Mielke of the Stasi was the most hated man, Margot Honecker was the most hated woman. As education minister she enforced her agenda with an iron fist, criticism against her politics was not accepted and could result in punishment for anybody who dared it!
Micheal Gorbachev was the Soviet leader who wanted to reform the USSR. Like Deng Xiaoping in China, Gorbachev started with capitalist thinking. Erich Honecker was unwilling to introduce reforms and East Germany choose to remain loyal to conservative stalinism. But the reforms of Gorbachev could not be ignored, many East Germans wanted freedom. At the 40th anniversary of the GDR in 1989, the members of the Free German Youth cried ”Save us Gorbi” totally shocking the SED leaders, who could not understand why their own boys and girls were asking for change. Mass demonstrations started against the SED and the Ministry for State Security!
On 18 October 1989, Erich Honecker was forced to retire as Chairman of the State Council. With his removal the end also came for Margot. She left her ministry two days after her husband was forced out. The Socialist Unity Party of Germany needed to get rid of the Honeckers as fast as possible. Erich was expelled from the SED, which then renamed itself into the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). East Germany elected its first democratic government in March 1990. It was a capitalist government, that only served one propose: to disarm the GDR and fuse it into the Federal Republic of Germany!
Margot and Erich Honecker stayed at Waldsiedlung until they were forced by the new East German government out of their home. The couple was on the run, hated and cursed by the workers and peasants they claimed to represent. Erich suffered from massive disillusion, the old chairman was almost willing to accept defeat and capitulation. But Margot Honecker was not that kind of woman who would surrender. She remained defiant and refused to accept the new Germany. She called Micheal Gorbachev a traitor and all who removed her husband from power!
The two found shelter in a Christian church, among people Margot had fought against all her life. Later they ended up in a Soviet military barracks and stayed there until their German Democratic Republic ceased to exist. Germany was reunified under capitalism and now the law would turn against the Honeckers. Both fled to Moscow, were they hoped Gorbachev would help them. But after the failed coup of hardliner communist party members, the Soviet government banned the Communist Party of the Soviet-Union. It became clear to Margot and Erich that the new Kremlin leaders would not support them. The couple fled Moscow and found refuge in Chile, a nation that was willing to accept them!
Margot Honcker seemed to have reinstalled faith into her husband. Erich was again committed to marxism-leninism (stalinism) after they came to Chile. He refused to accept that he did wrong and held on to the idea that socialism would return in the future. Margot remained more militant then Erich. After he died on 23 May 1994 at age 81, she stayed alone in her Chilean home. Margot never abandoned her commitment to Stalinist orthodoxy. She was a full supporter of Kim Il Sung in North Korea, supported Kim Jong Il and the current leader: Kim Jong Un. With no regard for the suffering of the North Korean working class, Margot Honecker supported the Juche monarchy out of anti-imperialist loyalism!
Revolutionary socialists can only feel pity for her. A dogmatic woman, who was the biggest enemy of what she claimed to represent. Her conservatism, militarism and totalitarianism aided the anticommunist propaganda wave, against the political left-wing. She became the model Stalinist woman, loyal to the party above anything else. Margot Honecker destroyed two generations of East German youth. Like all conservatives, she hated individual freedom and prevented young people from having an independent mind. Margot’s religion was marxism-leninism (stalinism) and her gods were Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, people who never wanted to be saints or semi-gods!
The Stalinist bitch of the German Democratic Republic is finally gone!