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East German regime's victims are to be awarded state pension

Germans who suffered at the hands of the communist regime in former East Germany are to receive a „victim's” pension, coalition leaders said, announcing official compensation more than 17 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The pension, worth €250 ($326) a month, will be to compensate for injustices suffered, said Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, said. Payments will go to those detained for political reasons in the former German Democratic Republic for six months or more and who are deemed to be in financial need, he said. „In this way the injustice that people in the GDR experienced will receive due recognition,” Kauder told reporters in Werder, west of Berlin, today following a meeting with his counterparts from the other coalition parties. The pension agreement comes as economic and social disparities between former East and West Germany persist almost 17 years after the two states reunified in 1990.

Unemployment in the six states of the former east is about double that of the west, while per-capita gross domestic product is only about two thirds that of the west, according to the IW economic institute. Wolfgang Tiefensee, the minister with responsibility for Germany's eastern regions and a former mayor of the eastern city of Leipzig, said the pension award recognized „the courage and achievements of many people who risked their freedom and life for greater rights and democracy.” „Without this courage, the reunification of Germany would not have happened,” Tiefensee said in a faxed statement. Work will now proceed on drafting a government-backed law to enable the pensions to be paid, Kauder said. Claims will not be hereditary, he added. (Bloomberg)