East Germany: Laws to Fit the Land

Despite its repressive character, East Germany's Communist regime has had a constitution for years that embodied most of the liberal concepts of Western democracies. Drafted in 1949, when the Communists hoped to impose it on a reunified Germany, the constitution contained sections on human rights and religious freedom that were designed to allay the fears of nonCommunists. Not surprisingly, East German Party Boss Walter Ulbricht never bothered to put those provisions into practice. Last week, in the first referendum ever held in East Germany, citizens dutifully approved a new constitution that...

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