Germans upset at post office for issuing communist medal
The medal shows the faces of East Germany's first prime minister, Otto Grotewohl, and its first president, Wilhelm Pieck.
Berlin -- A silver medal minted for collectors by Germany's post office caused outrage in Germany Thursday with the discovery that it honors a 1946 act of communist dictatorship.
German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee demanded that the Deutsche Post company melt the "scandalous" medals down.
The medal shows the faces of communist East Germany's first prime minister, Otto Grotewohl, and first president Wilhelm Pieck, and marks the forcible consolidation of the Social Democratic Party into the German Communist Party.
The new, communist-controlled party was named the Socialist Unity Party. Documentation issued with the medal described 1946 as a "fresh start" for "socialist unity," in line with diehard communist doctrine.
Grotewohl, a former Social Democrat, was widely seen as a traitor who facilitated a brutal purge of Social Democrats in Soviet-occupied East Germany as Stalinists shored up their control. The repressive state lasted until 1989.
Tiefensee, a Social Democrat, said the forced merger led to large numbers of Social Democrats being cast into prison. He said the post office should instead be commemorating the people persecuted by the communists.
The daily newspaper Bild said the medal was removed from sale on Wednesday after its implications were realized. The philately and medals department of the post office makes large numbers of expensive items for collectors who like to acquire complete sets.