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East German Students Praise Decision to Fire School Chiefs

May 24, 1990

EAST BERLIN (AP) _ East German students on Thursday applauded a government decision to fire 6,700 school directors and hundreds of ideology teachers who once drilled Marxist doctrine into the nation’s youth.

The educators will still be allowed to reapply for their old jobs. But students said the move was an important step in repairing an education system that faces huge changes in order to adapt to a democratic society as East and West Germany reunite.

Educators under the old hard-line regime played key roles in identifying dissenters and indoctrinating students in Communist ideology.

Annette Blottner, a 22-year-old English language student at East Berlin’s Humboldt University, said the decision to open up the jobs of top educators is justified even though many embraced the revolt last year that toppled the old regime.

″I had a teacher who was so Stalinist, she damaged a lot of futures of people,″ she said. ″Now, she acts like she was with the revolution all the time.″

Government spokesman Matthias Gehler said Wednesday that in addition to the 6,700 school chiefs, 550 professors and dozens of other teachers who specialized in Marxist-Leninist doctrine also would be removed.

The school chiefs will be allowed to apply for their old jobs and the ideology professors can seek new education posts, but they must guarantee their ″democratic legitimacy,″ Gehler said.

Falk Nisius, a mathematics and computer science teacher at Humboldt, said most heads of schools were loyal Communists who came through an educational system that only tolerated strict conformity.

″When you are a teacher, the first year you are idealistic and think you will be different,″ said Nisius, 25. ″But after a few years, you realize that you’re job is to only stabilize the system. The whole approach was to break you down.″

East Germany also plans to disband the once-powerful youth organization that for decades groomed loyal members and leaders of the ousted Communist Party.

The Free German Youth will soon lose its financing, said Youth and Sports Minister Cordula Schubert in an interview Thursday with the West German newspaper, the Berliner Morgenpost.

Membership in the group was mandatory and helped direct the career paths of the hard-line leaders who were overthrown in last fall’s revolt. Former Communist Party leader Erich Honecker was a member of the group.

The Free German Youth, which once had 2 million members, has 20,000 members.

In another attempt to remove vestiges of the past, Economics Minister Gerhard Pohl said Wednesday that 100 directors of East German industries and businesses would be dismissed.

All the moves are part of a program by the government to remove industry and education leaders who got their jobs through strict party loyalty and to prepare for the July 2 economic merger with West Germany.

Also Thursday, a government spokesman said 109 of the 149 members of the special anti-terrorist police unit worked as agents for the disbanded secret police.

The Interior Ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the remaining 40 members of the anti-terrorist unit came from the East German army.

The anti-terrorist unit was formed in December under the former government of Communist Premier Hans Modrow.

He led the reform-oriented caretaker government that ran East Germany after Communist hard-liners were ousted in November. But Modrow’s retooled Communist Party was voted out of power in the nation’s first democratic elections on March 18.

The new government of Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere has been debating what to do with the 80,000 people who once worked for the secret police.

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