Facebook Twitter



It is not only the tens of thousands of ordinary workers, students, housewives and shopkeepers who are complaining about conditions in East Germany and berating its leaders.

Even privileged Communist Party members, some of them world renowned figures in the sports, musical and theater worlds, have joined the chorus.Many of them risk jeopardizing the special status they enjoy if their criticisms get too loud.

Still, authors, entertainers, artists and sports personalities have urged the hard-line leadership to re-examine its policies and open a dialogue with opposition groups.

The calls have ranged from a joint appeal by as many as 300 East Berlin artists to individual statements by such prominent authors as Christa Wolf.

Katarina Witt, the two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist and possibly the best-known East German abroad, said the Communist government must think about the causes for the exodus of its people to the West.

About 50,000 East Germans have fled West in recent months, either crossing Hungary's recently opened border to Austria or after seeking refuge in Bonn's embassies in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Warsaw, Poland.

The exodus deeply embarrassed the government last weekend during 40th anniversary festivities that were overshadowed by nationwide demonstrations unseen since Soviet tanks crushed a workers' uprising in 1953.

"It makes me sad, it hurts me that so many people have left the country," Witt told reporters in Munich, West Germany, where she was touring this week with a show.

"Something will change (in East Germany)," said Witt, herself a member of the Communist Party and a beneficiary of the perks bestowed on major athletic stars.

Witt has been a glamorous ambassador of goodwill and previously limited her political statements to praise for the benefits of a socialist system.

The brutal force used by security police against demonstrators over the weekend caused some public figures to call for restraint.

Christa Wolf, a well-known author who is widely read in West Germany, urged both sides to show "prudence, calm and patience."

In a statement broadcast by West German radio stations, she criticized Communist authorities for outlawing the New Forum opposition group, calling the move a "fatal" mistake.

The author, whose daughter and son-in-law were arrested during weekend demonstrations in East Berlin, called for a broad dialogue over the future of the country.