More public recognition for the courage of the resistance, more practical help for the victims of SED injustice: On the 70th anniversary of the GDR popular uprising of June 17, 1953, the Bundestag spoke out in favor of erecting the planned memorial for victims of the communist dictatorship in Berlin Government quarters to build quickly. Parliament also backed demands by SED victim representative Evelyn Zupke to grant easier support to those who had been persecuted earlier and to set up a new hardship fund. However, the implementation is taking a long time.
Speakers from all parties praised the courage of the protesters in Parliament on June 17, 1953. Carsten Schneider (SPD), Commissioner for the East, suggested declaring the date a commemoration day for freedom and democracy throughout Europe.
At that time, up to a million people demonstrated in East Berlin and 700 other places in the GDR against higher work standards, but also against the Socialist Unity Party SED, for free elections and more prosperity. The Soviet troops stationed in the GDR and the People's Police suppressed the protests. At least 55 people were killed and more than 10,000 arrested.
Victim representative for dynamization of victim pensions
"This day, June 17th, calls on us to do something for these people who fought for freedom and self-determination in the GDR and today live in precarious social conditions due to their broken biographies," said victim representative Zupke, when she presented her annual report before the parliamentary debate.
Zupke reiterated the demand for the implementation of the plans in the coalition agreement, including a dynamization of victims' pensions. This means that these payments to former persecutees who suffered professional disadvantages, for example because of criticism of the GDR rulers, are regularly increased.
In addition, Zupke demanded a fundamental change in the system for recognizing damage to health as a result of repression: Similar to post-traumatic stress disorders in soldiers, a connection should be assumed if someone who has experienced repression in the GDR becomes seriously ill.
Monument should be erected quickly
With their majority in the Bundestag, the government factions SPD, Greens and FDP accepted a motion that basically supports Zupke's demands. In addition, the deputies committed themselves to erecting the long-planned memorial to the victims of the communist dictatorship as quickly as possible and to implementing the "Opposition and Resistance Forum 1945-1990" at the former Stasi headquarters in Berlin-Lichtenberg.
But schedules are open. A location in Berlin's Spreebogenpark was chosen for the memorial, but there are still open legal issues. There is no secure funding for the resistance forum.
AfD causes outrage
There was a dispute in the Bundestag debate when the AfD MP Kay-Uwe Ziegler and the non-attached MP Joana Cotar (formerly a member of the AfD parliamentary group) compared the conditions in the GDR in 1953 with the current situation in the Federal Republic. "Freedom is trampled on these days," Cotar said. "The encroaching state is everywhere." Citizens would be made subjects. Speakers from the FDP, CDU and SPD categorically disagreed.
In addition to the Bundestag, the Berlin House of Representatives also paid tribute to the historical significance of the uprising on June 17 on Thursday. Former Federal President Joachim Gauck emphasized that this was the first uprising against communist tyranny in Europe. "If we remember it today, then we remember a piece of German history of freedom."