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Katarina Witt Under Fire for TV Show Flap

October 2, 2003

BERLIN (AP) _ Katarina Witt has come under fire for using symbols from the former socialist East Germany’s youth organization to publicize her new TV show.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist reportedly wore a blouse from the youth organization FDJ, or Free Democratic Youth, on the show. Television station RTL denies this, saying the clothing was only used to publicize the show.

German lawmaker Guenter Nooke, once part of the resistance movement against the socialist government, has called for a ban on symbols from the German Democratic Republic being shown on television.

``When figure skater Katarina Witt wears a FDJ blouse on television, it represents symbols of an organization hostile to the constitution,″ Nooke said.

West Germany put a law on the books in the 1950s, during the height of the Cold War, forbidding FDJ symbols. But in recent years, a craze for East German things has swept the country. Younger Germans can be seen on the streets wearing bright blue FDJ T-shirts with its radiating sun.

The trend was triggered in part by Wolfgang Becker’s film ``Good Bye, Lenin!″

Witt’s show is called the ``DDR show″ after the German acronym for the socialist state. It promises to be a ``time trip″ through the former country.

Many attribute the new fondness for the former East Germany to a backlash against the early days of German unification. Everything from the west was considered superior, with all things East German vanishing overnight.

``For a long time people suppressed their fond memories. Now people are finally talking about them,″ said Witt, who won her 1984 and 1988 Olympic gold medals for the former East Germany.

``Not everything was great, but we had a lot to laugh about too.″

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