East Germans Outraged by Corruption
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ East Germans outraged by the corruption of ousted Communist Party leaders tried to storm secret police offices Monday to make certain evidence for criminal trials is not removed.
Prosecutors blocked access by the former officials to evidence that could be used against them in the widening corruption investigation.
State television showed pictures of people joining police at luxurious government guest houses and at warehouses in East Berlin and Potsdam to block any efforts to remove documents.
Officials appealed for calm as people tried to force their way into secret police offices in Erfurt.
In Leipzig, where about 200,000 people attended a rally calling for German unification, 30 demonstrators were allowed inside the secret police headquarters, including opposition leader Wolfgang Schnur.
East Germany’s official ADN news agency said the group was let in ″after massive demands of demonstrators who had surrounded the building.″ It said the protesters presented their grievances and departed but 200 other demonstrators who refused to leave were permitted inside later to tour the building.
Parts of the building were sealed off to prevent documents from being smuggled out and Schnur said citizens would take part in making sure the papers remained there.
Wolfgang Schwanitz, new chief of national security, ordered flights to Romania halted because of reports that sensitive material was being smuggled to the Warsaw Pact ally, whose leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, has rejected reform.
Officials said there was no proof documents were being sent there. Opposition sources said earlier that important documents were taken from party headquarters to Schoenfeld airport for flights to Romania.
Premier Hans Modrow, who emerged as the leading political figure one day after the entire Communist Party leadership resigned, was not in East Germany. He led a three-member delegation to the Warsaw Pact summit in Moscow
At the huge Leipzig rally, the crowd applauded and cheered as speakers called for a united Germany. Demonstrators waved dozens of West German flags in front of the secret police headquarters. One flag was draped over a surveillance camera mounted outside the headquarters.
It was the third week that calls for German reunification dominated the Monday night Leipzig protests, and the demands were more pronounced than ever.
ADN reported 60,000 people rallied in Karl-Marx-Stadt, 10,000 in Schwerin and tens of thousands in Dresden.
President Bush indicated at a special session of NATO leaders in Brussels that a single Germany loyal to NATO would satisfy both the German yearning for unity and a nation’s right to self-determination, but added later to reporters:
″We are not trying to accelerate the process. It’s better to let things move on their own.″
The Christian Democrats, one of four parties allied with the Communists, said they were cutting those ties, East German television reported. It said they demanded that Egon Krenz, who resigned as Communist Party chief Sunday along with the Politburo, also give up the largely ceremonial post of president.
Brigitte Zimmermann, spokeswoman for the party’s interim governing committee, a reform-minded group of 25 people, appealed for calm to avoid ″anarchy and chaos.″
″The committee members have been troubled to learn of indications of people taking the law into their own hands and trying to forcefully enter public buildings,″ she said in a statement read to reporters in East Berlin.
Flights have been prohibited, as part of the anti-corruption crackdown, in the area of a huge depot stocked with weapons the ousted leaders were selling in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski, a ranking former official who ran the weapons operation, has fled the country. The government said late Monday it was enlisting its embassies in an international search for him.
Officials in West Berlin said Schalck-Golodkowski might be there.
In the first official cooperation between the government and opposition, a joint commission was formed to investigate corruption under Erich Honecker, who led the Communist Party for 18 years until Krenz replaced him in October.
Government spokesman Wolfgang Meyer promised the joint commission would root out all cases of ″corruption and misuse of office.‴
Two former members of the Politburo have been imprisoned as a result of anti-corruption investigations and 12 former leaders have been expelled from the party.
Opposition members urged citizens during a news conference Monday to ″block coverup attempts and illegal removals″ of documents and other items. Lothar Scharsich, spokesman for the opposition group New Forum, also pleaded for ″no violence.″
In Bonn, the chief aide to Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany said the East German party was ″incapable of acting″ and had ″totally lost the trust of its supporters, its members and the people.″
Rudolf Seiters has been negotiating with with East German leaders on financial aid, in exchange for which West Germany demands free elections and economic reform, and laying the groundwork for a visit by Kohl to East Germany.