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Communist Party Blames New Forum for Rampage at Police Headquarters

January 17, 1990

WEST BERLIN (AP) _ East German Communists said today the country’s peaceful revolution has taken a dangerous turn that could threaten free elections planned for May.

The warning came in a newspaper editorial that denounced the storming on Monday of secret police headquarters in East Berlin and blamed it on the New Forum opposition group.

New Forum, which organized the demonstration that led to the rampage, denied it was to blame for the violence, although the flier calling for the protest did call on people to bring stones.

″The stones that were to be taken along were meant only to symbolically seal up the doors of the building,″ New Forum spokesman Rainer Rodenwald said.

″The fliers we sent out clearly said ’no violence,‴ the spokesman said. ″There is no one from New Forum who wanted or planned the violence.″

Late today, the Christian Democratic Party threatened to bring down Communist Premier Hans Modrow’s coalition government by leaving it. The Christian Democrats, who control three of the 27 Cabinet seats, object to the Communists’ continued grip on power before the May 6 elections.

Christian Democratic spokesman Lothar Lueck said his party’s leadership was showing ″a very strong tendency to leave the government.″ West Germany’s ARD television said a decision was expected during a party meeting on Friday.

The party also threatened to quit the Cabinet last week.

The coalition has been running the country since a popular uprising ousted the nation’s hard-line Communist government, and the coalition is supposed to step down once it can be replaced by a freely elected government.

New Forum, East Germany’s largest pro-democracy movement, has more than 200,000 members nationwide. The movement has repeated its call to avoid violence and has promised to investigate Monday’s incident.

The official Communist Party daily said today the autumn revolution has ″lost its innocence.″

″Is the revolution eating its own children?″ Neues Deutschland asked in its front-page editorial, recalling the line from playwright Georg Buechner’s account of the violence of the French Revolution.

″No one should underestimate that question, since violence has increased and so has fear,″ the newspaper said. ″Voting freely on May 6 also means voting free of fear.″ Free elections are scheduled May 6.

The newspaper called for ″a security partnership″ linking government, opposition and law enforcement officials to guarantee free elections. It said the rampage at the secret police headquarters caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

Since the fall of hard-line leader Erich Honecker on Oct. 18, East Germany’s leaders routinely have called for calm and warned that violence could hurt efforts to establish true democracy in the country.

Nationwide, protests have continued by hundreds of thousands of people who have demanded that the Communists give up their virtual control of the government, media, bureaucracy and economy.

The unrest apparently prompted Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany to scrap plans for negotiating stronger ties with the government. Kohl said Tuesday the talks could wait until after free elections.

Kohl said the East German situation has become ″more difficult,″ adding that ″quick and effective measures″ were needed to shore up the economy.

Modrow’s government has called for scrapping centrally planned socialism and replacing it with a free-market system.

It has thus started to abolish state subsidies by raising prices for children’s clothes and related articles. Apartment rents and prices of other essentials are also to rise.

The price hikes have sent panic through a population accustomed to decades of rock-bottom prices for goods, services and housing.

Modrow, visiting West Berlin on Tuesday, blamed the pro-democracy opposition for Monday’s incident.

″I hope the storming remains a one-time event and isn’t any kind of signal,″ Modrow said during his visit, the first by an East German premier to the Western sector.

He complained he had been greeted with shouts of ″red pig″ after he rushed to the storming scene in an attempt to halt the rampage.

Tens of thousands of people took part in the rampage Monday night after a demonstration against the dreaded secret police force, which Modrow has promised to have completely dismantled by June 30.

Many of the demonstrators looted the building, carrying away clothing, bottles of wine and various pieces of equipment.

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