It must seem odd for an Orthodox monarchist such as myself to lament the extinguishing of a socialist Soviet puppet state. A socialist state that was the product of the dismembering of a prior state which, although heavily flawed, I do believe was the moral superior to those other states which it lost a war to. The German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) or GDR by most accounts was either a tolerable place to live, or it was horrid. One’s lot in life was determined by how willing they were to submit to the state and Marxist-Leninist dogmas. Surveillance was so pervasive that it was almost comparable to that of the contemporary western world. Although unlike in the contemporary west (for now anyways), for East Germans the first sign of dissent would find an individual carted away to a Stasi facility where he would be “persuaded” to give the names of his fellow conspirators, after which he would be imprisoned or worse. Needless to say, I would not actually wish to live in East Germany, as did a great many Germans; thousands fled and attempted to flee during the Cold War years. Even after the Cold War and German reunification, many former East Germans left their home to settle and start new lives in the west.
Yet, despite all this, I have great lament for the loss of the former GDR, and a lament for what was and what could have possibly been.
Such feelings are not new to me. I have already written a similar article on this subject (here). We live in a modernity that has been formed by the seeming victory of liberalism and democracy, which is exemplified and sustained by the United States. For some disenfranchised with the current order, there can be a temptation to look upon the Soviet Union and even East Germany as preferable alternatives to the states or systems we today find ourselves subjected to. This is why we see (in part) so many communists today. There is also a temptation for those inclined to the right to look upon the 20th century anti-communist dictatorships as preferable options to globalized Americanism. As a traditionalist, I can say that the 20th century dictatorships are more amenable to my views, not because of nostalgia or because I want to live in the past, but because those states attempted to preserve and keep tradition in the face of liberal and communist opposition. Of course, not all of these states did this to the same level, and not all traditions are worth keeping or returning to. The 20th century dictatorships, to me, represent an authentic way of life and a traditional ordering of society and politics. However, in their opposition to the liberal, capitalist democracies of the west, the Warsaw Pact nations did end up preserving and keeping to tradition, to a degree.
In the west, freedom was touted as the highest virtue. Freedom in politics, individual freedom, and freedom of and from morality. The Soviet bloc was so repressive in these things, the west responded by liberalizing every aspect of their societies. Ironically, the far-left socialist states were more socially conservative in culture than the Christian west, at least regarding some things. Abortion and birth control were common and state subsidized in communist countries. Of course, these innovations would come to the west also, but they were first pioneered by the Marxists. However, early on in Soviet Russia, it was realized that a state that tolerated degeneracy and vice could not survive. Soon after coming to power, Stalin criminalized homosexuality and prostitution, and the state promoted the nuclear family as the ideal family type (of course there are caveats here, as Stalin wanted both parents to work so that the children could be raised by the state in daycares. However, under Lenin, the state attempted to demonize the nuclear family as repressive and encouraged the dissolving of marriages in favour of “free love”). The Soviet Union also criminalized pornography, which one could be jailed for possessing.
The Soviet Union, although socially conservative, was not nationalistic. The USSR could be called patriotic, in that people were encouraged to love and support the state, but ethnic identity was seen as something which detracted from the goals of communism. Russian identity was especially demonized, as Russians were seen as imperialist oppressors by the Soviets, and whereas other Soviet Republics within the USSR could have local communist parties, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic could not. Thus, all the states besides Russia had local and national representation within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Until the 80’s, there was not a single Russian general secretary of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Soviet government promoted miscegenation and the creation of a new “Soviet ethnicity”. However, these anti-national policies did not extend to the other Warsaw Pact states. In the Soviet Union, you were communist first and then a Soviet. In Poland, Hungary, and East Germany, you were first expected to be a good communist, but secondly you were expected to be a Pole, a Hungarian, and a German.
It is really sad when socialist states are structured to be more patriotic and nationalistic than our free states today. When communism fell, these national identities were no longer subordinated to socialism, and thus these free states retained the nationalism which they had been endowed with, which we can see manifest today in the countries of the Baltics, Poland, and Hungary. Although these countries often times resent the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation today, it can be said they owe the Soviet Union a debt of gratitude from sparing them from the liberal influence of the west, which in this era has proven itself to be an existential threat to morality and nationality.
East Germany was an authentically German state. This can be shown by comparing it to the Third Reich and the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany. The last truly free and authentic German State was the Third Reich. By free, I mean free in that the state was a product of the German people, without outside influence, pressure, or domination. Now feel free think whatever you will about the Third Reich, but I do not think anyone can argue that it was not an authentic expression of the German disposition and weltanschauung. East Germany was a continuation of this disposition and outlook, whereas West Germany and the now reunited Germany are not. East Germany was permitted to keep the traditions and institutions of the Third Reich and those of the German Empire and Prussia. Like in other socialist states, these traditions were subordinated to state ideology, and they were modified to serve the interests of the state, but they persisted. The Soviets never forced the East Germans to undergo denazification. To the Soviets, Germany losing the war falsified National Socialism as an ideology, and thus was no longer viable and not a threat to Moscow. Therefore, the new East German state could be built upon and in continuity with the Third Reich, with communist Germany being presented as the natural evolution of German statehood according to communist theories of history. The Soviets could take what they thought was good and worth preserving from Nazi Germany and past German states, and endow their client state with them. This was not the case in West Germany.
Upon German capitulation after World War II, the Allied occupied regions of Germany instituted a program of denazification. This program sought to delegitimize National Socialism in the eyes of the German people. Beyond that however, this program also condemned non-Nazi German traditions, love of self and people, and the right of national self-determination. Denazification sought to have West Germans internalize the guilt and take responsibility for all of the alleged atrocities of and that occurred during the war. This became a “race guilt” for the West Germans, as they were no longer a nation like any other nation but a uniquely wicked people that must constantly be vigilant and restrain itself, otherwise the atrocities of the past are repeated. The West Germans were made by the Allies, and America specifically, to internalize the worst stereotypes regarding their people. West Germany was thus reconstructed not to be a successor state to the Third Reich, or any German State which came before it. Instead, West Germany was a new, western-styled state which was tangentially associated with the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Republic was not an authentically German state; like in the aftermath of World War Two, Weimar was a reconstructed state fashioned in the image of western liberal democracies and was subject to western interest and Jewish oligarchs.
Religion, and Christianity in particular, were tolerated to a greater degree in East Germany than in the Soviet Union. Protestants and Catholics were tolerated, with periods of state repression and cooperation. East Germany was still a secular state which espoused atheism, but the destruction of Christianity seemed to be less of a goal for the East German state than it was for the Soviet Union. This is probably because the churches were not seen as a threat to state power, and that given enough time Christianity would die on its own as a result of scientific progress disproving Christian claims. Regardless, Christianity persisted, and Catholic bishops were permitted to make protests to the government, which they did regarding the use and promotion of contraception and abortion. Christianity was thus able to exist alongside socialism, neither condemning nor affirming the system, but attempting to exist alongside of it.
East Germany continued the legacy of the German nation, whereas West Germany discarded that legacy and continuity so that they could become the most fanatical adherents to liberalism and globalism. East Germany was a Germany that wanted to put aside the ills of the past, having learned from her mistakes and build a better future for the German people. Yes, this future may have been stalled because of socialism, but with the collapse of socialism and the Soviet Union, this future was still theirs to reach for. A free East Germany could be like the Hungary and Poland of today, being Christian, conservative, and nationalistic. Instead of this, when the Germanies were reunited in 1990, West Germany absorbed the East, destroying that which made the East distinctly German, so that they too could share in the joys and promises western liberalism.
The loss of East Germany is not just the loss of a socialist Soviet puppet state. The extinguishing of East Germany is the extinguishing of German and Prussian tradition, the things which made the German people so formidable in the 19th and 20th century, but also that which allowed this people to contribute so greatly to the fields of philosophy, theology, literature, poetry, art, and music. The loss of East Germany represents the loss of the German soul, and this I mourn. I believe this soul is best expressed in the anthem of East Germany, Auferstanden aus Ruinen, or Risen from Ruins. Although the ruins referred to in the anthem are that of post-war Germany, I think it is still fitting for today, for Germany as well as for all of us in the west who seek to rise from the ruins of modernity. Our ruin is not that of bombed infrastructure and dead friends and family, but that of the soul. I hope that we may overcome the ruin of the soul, and that the West may once again be something admirable, moral and just. I also hope that the spirit of Soviet Prussia may rise again in triumph, triumph not over neighbouring states, but in the internal struggle for decency and self-respect.
Auferstanden aus Ruinen
Und der Zukunft zugewandt,
Lass uns dir zum Guten dienen,
Deutschland, einig Vaterland.
Alte Not gilt es zu zwingen,
Und wir zwingen sie vereint,
Denn es muss uns doch gelingen,
Daß die Sonne schön wie nie
Über Deutschland scheint.
Glück und Friede sei beschieden
Deutschland, unserm Vaterland.
Alle Welt sehnt sich nach Frieden,
Reicht den Völkern eure Hand.
Wenn wir brüderlich uns einen,
Schlagen wir des Volkes Feind.
Lasst das Licht des Friedens scheinen,
Dass nie eine Mutter mehr
Ihren Sohn beweint.
Lasst uns pflügen, lasst uns bauen,
Lernt und schafft wie nie zuvor,
Und der eignen Kraft vertrauend,
Steigt ein frei Geschlecht empor.
Deutsche Jugend, bestes Streben
Unsres Volks in dir vereint,
Wirst du Deutschlands neues Leben,
Und die Sonne schön wie nie
Über Deutschland scheint.
Risen from ruins
and facing the future,
let us serve you for the good,
Germany, united fatherland.
There are old woes to overcome
and united we are overcoming them
because we must succeed,
so that the sun more beautiful than ever
over Germany shines.
May happiness and peace be granted
to Germany, our fatherland.
All the world longs for peace,
reach your hand out to the peoples.
If we unite in brotherhood,
we shall defeat the people’s enemy.
Let the light of peace shine
so that no mother should ever more
mourn her son.
Let us plough, let us build,
learn and create like never before,
and, confident in our own strength,
let a free generation rise up.
German youth, with the best efforts
of our people united in you,
you will become Germany’s new life.
And the sun more beautiful than ever,
over Germany shines.