The widow of the last dictator of East Germany has defended the former Communist state in a German television interview and evinced no remorse whatsoever for crimes committed by the regime.
Margot Honecker, the 84-year-old widow of Erich Honecker, now lives in exile in Chile, where she and her family fled to a few years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
For me the GDR [the German Democratic Republic] was my life, she said in the ARD broadcast documentary, after almost twenty years of silence.
It's a tragedy that that country no longer exists… My head is in [East] Germany.
She yearned for what she describes as a “lost nation.”
Among other nuggets, Margot blasted former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev as traitor for the reforms he enacted. She also said that her government’s insistence on imposing conformity was necessary because we had enemies, so we had national security… That's why we had the Stasi [the secret police].
As education minister, Margot persecuted dissidents and even forcibly removed thousands of children from parents whom the state suspected of disloyalty.
Margot also said that East Germans who were shot trying to flee to the west only had themselves to blame.
There was no need for them to climb over the [Berlin] wall, to pay for this stupidity with their lives, she said.
The documentary further revealed that she still receives a monthly pension of €1,500 ($1998) from the newly unified German state – a payment she complains is outrageously small.
The man who interviewed Margot in Chile, Eric Friedler, told the Guardian newspaper of Britain that she is completely out of touch with reality, despite the fact that she seems to keep up to date on current events.
Margot Honecker showed no remorse, or discernment, she expressed no word of regret or apology, he said.
She might be in Chile, but she is very well connected to a whole guard of old comrades. She regularly spends hours reading the internet, knows exactly what's going on in Germany, but says her desire for Germany is restricted to … the GDR.
Indeed, Margot seems to think that a socialist Germany will emerge again in the future.
We laid a seed in the ground which will one day come to fruition, she said. We just didn't have enough time to realize our plans.
Erich Honecker died in 1994.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.