East Germany: The More Things Change . . .

Early next month the leaders of East Germany will gather on Marx-Engels Square to begin a three-day celebration of their country's 40th anniversary. Guest of honor at the speeches and parades will be Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, whose program of reforms has been dismissed as "unnecessary" by the aged, tradition-bound leaders who will be his hosts. If past birthdays are any indication, the East German speakers will proclaim how every day "the superiority of socialist society is clearly demonstrated."

Those lofty words, however, are hardly likely to clear the smog of despondency that has enveloped East Germany. Even before thousands of...

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