Hans Modrow, last communist PM of East Germany, dies at 95 – DW – 02/11/2023

Hans Modrow, the last communist prime minister of former East Germany, has passed away at the age of 95, according to Germany’s Left Party.

Modrow became prime minister in November 1989. He left office in April 1990. He was officially the second-to-last prime minister of the now-defunct state, as he was succeeded by Lothar de Maiziere, a conservative. De Maiziere was tasked with managing the transition into a joint state with western Germany which took place later in the year. 

Who was Hans Modrow?

Modrow later served in the Bundestag of a reunified Germany and in the European Parliament. He was a member of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which was the successor party to former East Germany’s ruling Communist party (SED) and was later absorbed by the Left Party. He served as the party chief in the city of Dresden in the 1970s and the 1980s.

In 1990, Modrow’s government founded the agency responsible for transitioning former East Germany toward a market economy. The “Modrow Law” made it possible for house and farm owners to buy the land on which their property stood.

Opponents accused Modrow of attempting to delay political change and rebrand rather than abolish the Stasi security police. In 1995, a court convicted him of falsifying local elections in Dresden in 1989, a charge which Modrow argued was politically motivated.

Modrow was critical of German reunification, arguing that it was carried out too hastily and that East Germany should have negotiated for more concessions during the process.

An ‘important personality’ for the Left Party

In his old age, Modrow continued advising the Left Party. He said he felt a “continuing responsibility towards former [East German] citizens.”

“With this, our party loses an important personality,” Left lawmakers Dietmar Bartsch and Gregor Gysi said in a joint statement.

“The entire peaceful course of establishing German unity was precisely a special achievement of his. That will remain his political legacy,” they said.

sdi/kb (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

A previous version of this article identified Hans Modrow as the last prime minister of the communist-ruled East Germany (GDR) and a former leader of the East German Communist Party, also known as the Socialist Unity Party. While Modrow was the last communist leader to hold the office, he was in fact succeeded by conservative Lothar de Maiziere, who remained prime minister during the final months of the reunification process. Modrow was also never the head of the Socialist Unity Party. This has now been corrected. DW apologizes for the errors.

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