Opposition in the GDR Under Honecker, 1971-85
By Roger Woods
St. Martin's, 1986, 257 pp.
Two givens in the history of East Germany have been the distaste of the people for the regime and the regime's intolerance of opposition. How to measure that distaste and the limits of official tolerance, however, are not easy questions to answer. Roger Woods, with the aid of documentation that takes up most of his book, makes the effort by examining three kinds of dissent: open criticism by intellectuals (the familiar cases of Bahro, Havemann, Heym and Biermann); rejection of the system by those who choose, or wish to choose, emigration; and the activities of the unauthorized peace movement. This "opposition" has not shaken the regime but may, the author argues, have influenced it. Again, it is difficult to prove much, but the G.D.R. under Honecker has certainly undergone change, and the issues raised here cannot be ignored by the regime, by Bonn, or by Moscow and Washington.