DLF: Would you share the appraisal, Mr. Eppler, that the SPD-SED document is being discussed more in the GDR than in the Federal Republic, and I mean both within and beyond the SED; that expectations are connected with it, among the general public at least, and also in the rank and file of the SED?
Eppler: It is my experience that the enthusiasm with which this paper is being discussed in the GDR is almost shameful to citizens of the Federal Republic. And you are correct: this is happening both within and outside of the SED, and very few people in this republic have even registered it at all. I think it would be a lot easier to turn this paper into a decisive domestic issue in the GDR if that were also the case here.
DLF: You once referred to the document as marking the start of a system-opening dialogue. Do you feel that this expectation was fulfilled, or haven’t experiences since the signing of the paper perhaps demonstrated just the opposite, that it is very difficult to discuss ideological contrasts and political differences of opinion with the SED, and that it is all too rashly rejected as intervention in the internal affairs of the GDR?
Eppler: I borrowed the formula of a system-opening dialogue from Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker, who spoke of a system-opening dialogue in reference to this paper. If I look back today I have to say that, if the word “start” is underscored very heavily, one could speak of the start of a system-opening dialogue, but then really just the start.
Source: “Beziehungen zwischen SPD und SED. Interview mit Erhard Eppler” [“Relations between the SPD and the SED. Interview with Dr. Erhard Eppler”], Deutschland Archiv 21, no. 10 (1988), pp. 1126-29.
Translation: Allison Brown