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For doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers and professors, professional success is a state crime; last month the regime rejected 12,000 of 28,000 high school graduates applying for admission to universities. The reason: "bourgeois" family backgrounds. Virtually no one gets to college without having first worked in a factory or on a collective farm.
There is also the ever present aura of fear. As one refugee put it: "The police no longer drag people out of their houses in the middle of the night. But the agents are still everywhere. You sit in a movie house watching a film, and suddenly the lights go on and you wait while the Vopos walk down the aisle looking everyone over. You wonder who they are after. When they motion to someone to get up and go with them, you relax. But the next time it could be you ... I couldn't take that any more."
No More Planes. For all its troubles, East Germany today is the sixth largest industrial manufacturer in the world (after the U.S., Russia, West Germany, Great Britain, France). Yet the stern program announced three years ago to match West German per capita consumption by 1961 failed miserably, is no longer even mentioned. Largely at fault is the huge drain on the economy resulting from shipments of heavy industrial equipment to the rest of the Soviet bloc; East Germany is the machine shop for Russia (it produces one-half of the Soviet Union's total ma chine imports) and half a dozen other satellite nations. So great is the strain on the economy that Ulbricht's planners last March abruptly put East Germany's airplane industry out of business so that raw materials and labor could be used elsewhere.
Despite his age and occasional bouts of ill health (liver and gall bladder), Ulbricht runs his country with undiminished authority, working as many as 18 hours a day. barking rapid-fire orders in his high-pitched voice. There is only a bare pretense of democracy. Technically, Ulbricht's S.E.D. rules not alone, but with four other parties (including a sham offshoot of West Germany's Christian Democratic Party) in a National Front whose united list of candidates is presented to voters at each election with no other choices. After the election rituals, the S.E.D. always gains control of the Volkskammer (Peoples' Chamber), a rubber-stamp legislature that follows Ulbricht's every nod.-
Still Hope. Walter Ulbricht will never be happy until his troubled land is elevated from occupied status to become a full-fledged, sovereign nation. This Nikita Khrushchev has promised time and time again since 1958, as he has threatened to sign a peace treaty and let the German Democratic Republic take over its own affairs (including control of the West's presence in, and access to, Berlin). The current mood in Moscow is to give Ulbricht his treaty this fall. So far, virtually no important non-Communist nation has recognized the G.D.R. diplomatically, but Ulbricht is working feverishly for what he considers East Germany's due reward. "We are strong," he cries. "The world one day must deal with us."