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German History in Documents and Images
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Rudolf Bahro (August 1981)
Rudolf Bahro's book The Alternative [Die Alternative] was published in the Federal Republic in 1977. (The news magazine Der Spiegel had issued a preprint of it.) The book’s subtitle – “A Criticism of Real Exisiting Socialism” – offered a view into its contents. Bahro identified the move from “revolutionary Marxism” to “bureaucratic centralization” as the fundamental problem of state socialism. Despite the threat of repressive measures, The Alternative was read within wide-ranging groups of GDR intellectuals. Bahro was arrested on August 23, 1977; after ten months of pre-trial detainment, he was sentenced to eight years in prison. His fate soon became the subject of international protest. On the GDR’s 30th anniversary in October 1979, Bahro was granted amnesty and was able to leave for the West, where he remained politically active. Bahro participated in the founding of the Green Party and continued to publish. This picture shows Bahro in August 1981, at a Freedom Forum [Forum Frieden] discussion event at the SPD party headquarters in Bonn. Photo by Ludwig Wegmann.