Obituary – Hans Modrow (1928 – 2023)

Hans Modrow – one of the really great representatives of the party DIE LINKE. has died in the night from Friday to Saturday (on 11.02) shortly after his 95th birthday (27 January) in a Berlin hospital. There he had been admitted at the beginning of the last week after a stroke. We – as the co-ordinators of the Socialist Left (a current within DIE LINKE party Germany) – bow before a great man.

We are sad and will miss him. Our thoughts are also with his life partner, his relatives and his friends. Here we would like to pay tribute to Hans once again on the basis of the knowledge we have also received from others – without claiming to be complete.

Inconspicuous, modest, but with a clear mind and a clear point of view…. such was Hans Modrow.

He was born in 1928 in a village in what is now Polish Pomerania, and as a youth experienced war and flight firsthand with his family. Building a society in which fascism and war would never occur again was his goal, which he pursued as an active socialist in the SED.

As the first secretary of the SED leadership in the Dresden district, he was present in the 1980s when the contradictions of real existing socialism in the GDR came to a head – the development of electronics technology sites on the one hand, increasing discontent among the population on the other.

One particular situation, which is little known, is characteristic of his view as a socialist:

It was his personal courageous offer of dialogue that ensured that GDR soldiers did not have to fire on their own people in Dresden in October 1989. To come with a 3,5t loudspeaker truck into a Monday demonstration of about 3000 people and to offer the personal conversation there, without heavily armored or armed guard, nobody would dare that today… But he did that, because it was important for him to understand what moves the people and to concede them their power. Even if the result was certainly not in his sense.

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With Hans we lose a comrade who did not adapt to the mainstream views – neither in the GDR nor in the FRG. He did not keep to himself his analyses, which were based on Marxist knowledge and shaped from the point of view of the interests of  working people. This attitude allowed him to prevent the dissolution of the SED and made him prime minister of the GDR in 1989. This was his last influential political office.

Many people in the east of the enlarged FRG, who continued to hold Hans Modrow in high esteem, elected him to the Bundestag in 1994, from where he went on to the EU Parliament in the following legislative term in 1999 (to 2004).

The merger of the PDS and WASG in 2007 created an opportunity for a strong left-wing party throughout Germany. Hans Modrow became chairman of the party’s council of elders.

In 2007, DIE LINKE. succeeded in entering the Bremen regional parliament and was thus represented in a West German regional parliament for the first time. Hans welcomed the Bremen delegation in the courtyard of the Karl Liebknecht Building in Berlin (the federal seat of DIE LINKE). He was very pleased and also had one or two wise pieces of advice for the people of Bremen.

As chairman of PDS/DIE LINKE’s  Council of Elders, Hans Modrow had been an increasingly critical companion of the party leaders in recent years, and was not afraid to name the party’s misdevelopment as such. Unfortunately, the last party leadership did not have the ability and/or the will to deal with this appropriately. It dissolved the active Council of Elders in 2022 and re-staffed it itself.

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The BND (Western Germany’s Secret Service for outside affairs)) and the ‘Verfassungsschutz’ (Secret Service for internal affairs), all observed Hans Modrow from the 1960s until the last years of his life. Hans Modrow worked on processing the files made available to him, and the manuscript will now be published posthumously.

Before his 95th birthday, which he celebrated in a small circle in a Berlin nursing home, Hans Modrow had placed advertisements in several daily newspapers asking people not to give him presents, but to donate a solidarity contribution for Cuba. This resulted in a five-figure sum. After consultation with a closer companion we call also now in the sense of Hans to a donation for projects in Cuba, this time however on the account of the account connection indicated on the web page of Cuba Si:

IBAN: DE 06 1005 0000 0013 2222 10
Password Hans Modrow

The last time Hans Modrow appeared in public was in November 2022. The Modrow Foundation planted 6,000 tulip bulbs for the victims of fascism at the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery.

In January 2022, Hans Modrow wrote a well-received letter to the party leaders of Die Linke, which can be considered his political legacy.

Hans was a clever, a straightforward and an authetic man. He was not interested in his own fame and public appearances, but saw himself as an advisor to the party in the service of his party. His contributions in committee meetings were always characterized by respectful interaction and understanding, but without losing clarity in his statements.

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Hans is and remains one of the great men of the Left – inside and outside the party. We are grateful to have known and experienced him. We will not forget him but keep him in loving and honorable memory.

Socialist Left (Linke, Germany)

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