BONN — A surprising 10% of East Germany's 2.3 million Communist Party members have quit the party in the past two months, the official party daily Neues Deutschland reported Saturday.
Since the exodus of East Germans began over the past few months, the beleaguered Communist Party has been wrenched by a shake-up of the leadership, and charges of corruption and misrule are now being leveled against such people as former party chief Erich Honecker. The party newspaper quoted Central Committee member Heinz Mirtschin as telling an East Berlin meeting, "Since the end of September, 200,000 members have left the SED (Communist Party)."
Mirtschin said that 70% of those who had quit the party were workers --the core of its strength.
Neues Deutschland said the report of the party's diminishing numbers came as no surprise and warned the membership that such erosion could be deepened by public hearings on corruption charges.
Politburo member Werner Eberlein told the paper that all German leaders guilty of abusing power will face punishment. Eberlein, who is investigating corruption, suggested that many former top officials will be accused of misusing their power and enriching themselves.
Roland Woetzel, a party official in Leipzig, said the party needs "a new program, new charter--and maybe even a new name."