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Politician’s Cry For Help Highlights East-West Gap

April 15, 1996

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Eastern Germans are snapping up a pamphlet written by a political ally of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s that depicts western Germany as materialistic, selfish and headed toward spiritual emptiness.

The pamphlet has struck a chord among eastern Germans disillusioned with the capitalism that came with unification in 1990.

Taking up arguments often heard in the formerly communist east, the 34-page pamphlet says the Berlin Wall has been replaced by a ``mental wall″ that is creating a new ``East-West conflict.″

``We need new thinking and action in politics,″ said the pamphlet by Eckhardt Rehberg, head of Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union in eastern Mechlenburg-West Pomerania state.

``A society based on gratification of needs drifts into spiritual poverty,″ it said. ``Solidarity, a basic value, seems to have lost content and substance.″

Rehberg’s office said today it was overwhelmed by public interest in the pamphlet after it came out in late February. All 8,000 copies have been distributed and thousands more are circulating as photocopies, said Ruediger Moeller, a Rehberg spokesman.

Most of the interest has been in the east, which remains poorer and has more joblessness than the west 5 1/2 years after unification.

The pamphlet has raised a rallying cry for eastern politicians and a warning to Kohl, who pressed for German unity as communism collapsed in 1989.

By glossing over the feelings of easterners, western leaders in Kohl’s party are driving voters to the former East German communists, Rehberg wrote.

``After the collapse of the German Democratic Republic and world communism, the chance for an all-German debate about values has been missed,″ the pamphlet said.

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