a few weeks Ago, the social Democrats in Mecklenburg-loaded lock-Vorpommern in Schwerin, to celebrate. For twenty years, they are the strongest group in the country, for twenty years the Prime Minister. In the middle of the deep red held in the room sat there quietly, a man in his chair, to all the loopholes. Him down bückten, his Hand ranged or on the shoulder tapped. Harald Ringstorff, has led the social Democrats through the first years after the turn to the state Chancellery, for ten years he was Prime Minister. It is a political life, as it is only in the East of Germany led to the break-up after the break could be. Now there is a biography about Ringstorff, which is managed in its entirety, but which are definitely worth reading. After all, who wants to understand the East, you must also know the history of the politicians who did it in the past few decades.

Matthias Wyssuwa

Political correspondent for the North of Germany and Scandinavia with headquarters in Hamburg.

F. A. Z. Twitter

from all Of these Ringstorff, is one of the most well-known, because the social Democrat, in 1998, the first to dare a formal coalition with today’s left party. In the ceremony at the Schwerin castle, Matthias Platzeck, once Prime Minister of Brandenburg, Ringstorff for this decision was praised as an important contribution to the East German self-awareness. That sounds a bit pompous and aims to be the nevertheless a crucial challenge that Ringstorff, like all his other colleagues in the state offices of the new countries were: how can you not just arrive in the Federal Republic of Germany, but at the same time, politically emancipate. The biographies in the East, the experiences were different, but what should implications for policy in the East? That Ringstorff at the time – even after long objections from his party in the West – for a red-Red has decided, may have been a response to it. A controversial but also in the East. So a response is never free from the calculus of Power.

The historian Christoph Wunnicke presented biography may, unfortunately, missing hardly give answers on how to Ringstorff, a rating of this challenge today, as, indeed, his assessment of many of the crucial milestones in the book Ringstorff, is sick, and could not give detailed answers to his political life. Much remains open, admits the author. Be worn in the book meticulously, and quite strictly to the timeline following the events of 1989 up to the year 2008, as Ringstorff, left the state Chancellery. Unfortunately, one learns so much about what has shaped Ringstorffs political Thinking before the active political career, and this is important: the fact that he had a life before politics. The upheavals in the East were total, they met the people with no preparation and at all stages of life. And sometimes, within the shortest possible time professional politicians was made up of people who were shaped in their personality for a long time,. So it was with Harald Ringstorff, the head of the branch “Paint the coast” in the VEB Kombinat paints and colors. When the wall fell, he was 50 years old.

The book traces his rise in the SDP, which had to be the SPD. Especially, it shows how grown men and a few women, came together to make policy and to learn. How difficult it was to formulate common goals. And what are the benefits of not only the PDS, but also the previous block parties, brought, to have structures, experienced personnel, copier, phones, and especially the members lists. This led to the absurd Situation that the FDP is the today in the country politically more of an idea than a power factor over many years, significantly more members than the SPD. Ringstorff was but in the political contest, especially on the CDU, which he attacked as “recorders”. The former CDU Minister-President Berndt Seite had written in his biography about this “hybrid”beings, as he put it. At Ringstorff, the attacks of his Belief may have sprung, but without the calculus of Power, they are not to be understood.

he couldn’t Stop the CDU, however, they led the country in the first eight years after the turn. It is the challenges of unemployment up to the shipyard crisis were thankless years for the policy and the CDU, huge. You can accompany the country today, as the SPD. Since 2006, the CDU, the small coalition partner of the SPD. The pragmatist Ringstorff, did his party to all sides of the coalition. And the CDU has the embrace of the SPD just as little good as it was before the left party.

the book works through one event after another. Sometimes a little more weighting would have been desirable, and a somewhat critical look at the Work of Ringstorffs and his decisions. Exciting, but it is in the book, whenever the questions of political self-determination to be touched in the East: from the debate over whether the reconciliation, as a priority, as Ringstorff, did it, or reprocessing, as the CDU called for it. Of the Stasi loads up to the debate about a coalition with the left party. There are debates that reverberate still today. They are evidence of the difficult path to an East German self-understanding, you should be in the West always aware of it.