Christiane Kerner (Born 23 October 1946) is a German Communist politician who has led the German Democratic Republic as its Chairperson from January 1991 to the present day
Origins and early political careerEdit
Kerner was born in the city of Schwerin in northern Germany; she is the youngest daughter of Horst Kerner (b. 12 August 1910) who was a member of the German Communist Party and worked in an armaments factory. Her mother, Katrin Kerner (b. 19 March 1919) was a teacher of Russian and Latin in a local Secondary School. She has two brothers, Otto (b. 1940) and Gerhard (b. 1943). As a youth Kerner was a particularly enthusiastic member of the Free German Youth, the Communist Youth organisation and took particular pride in reporting the local baker for treason after he told her a joke about Walter Ulbricht, the leader of the GDR.
At 18 she was made leader of her local chapter and ran the local Free German Youth disco, in two years she had become an editorialist for the FDJ’s official newspaper “Junge Welt”. The articles she wrote at this time give an interesting insight into Kerner’s personal political view point in which she emphasizes her support for a strong central government which would be supported by “loyal citizens”. In 1967 she was head-hunted to the Stasi, the German Secret Police this saw her tighten the grip of the police force over her native region, due to her success she was promoted to the Berlin Offices and was responsible for relations with left-wing organisations around the world. It was in this role she met her husband, Lothar.
Leadership of East GermanyEdit
In 1990 after the assassination of Erich Mielke in China, the Chairman of the GDR, Erich Honecker appointed Kerner as the Minister for State Security, she soon began to dominate Council of Ministers meetings and it is clear that Honecker himself grew more and more confident in her abilities, on his retirement he left no obvious successor. This left the GDR in a great deal of disarray as it was unsure whether there was anyone in the Council of Ministers with the qualities to lead the nation, Kerner as a new comer was reluctant to stand for the leadership but with the encouragement of her political idol, Erich Honecker, she ran for the leadership of the Socialist Unity Party. Whilst there were reservations within the Council of Ministers due to her youth and inexperience these doubts were cast aside by messages of support from the then Soviet leader, Zacharov, and her personal popularity with the public. Under the Kerner regime there has been no notable change in Germany as she has committed to continue Honecker’s 5 Year Plan, however the Free German Youth has become increasingly ideological and they are working closer alongside the Stasi to crack down on dissent within the GDR.
Kerner is considered as a hard-line Stalinist and reports from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggest that she actively opposes the Soviet Union of Raddek due to its “perverse reforms” and “anti-revolutionary stance”, comments that have been covered up within the GDR due to the importance of the Soviet-German relationship but were broadcast over the German International Service as Kerner expressed her support for an opponent of Raddek, Antipov, in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union leadership elections.
During her marriage Kerner had 3 children, Alex (b. 1969) who is now the head of Germany’s only record label (AMIGA), Helma (b. 1973) who is in Secondary School and a member of her local FDJ group in addition to being regional champion in Russian speaking, her youngest son is Horst (b. 1978) who is in the first tier of the German education system, a Polytechnic School and a member of the Thälmann Pioneers, a youth organisation which is the feeder to the FDJ. By 1979 Kerner was invited to a Socialist Party Conference in Berlin where she was recognised as a “ceaseless fighter for the German people” and “exemplary Socialist mother”, she holds the Order of Karl Marx and the National Prize of Germany which was awarded to her for her role as a FDJ leader.
In 1984 Lothar Kerner went missing and it is believed that Christiane recommended that he be sent to the “re-education” centre of the Stasi in Hohenschönhausen after he made public remarks that were critical of the Chairman of the GDR, Erich Honecker. Whilst they are still officially married, there are suggestions that she has found a new love and that Lothar is likely to be dead.
- The motto of the FDJ is one of her favourite quotes “We shall always be ready for peace and true Socialism”
- "The Socialist world is a brotherhood of nations, we all rely and depend on each other for protection and support"
- “How can we put a value on the stars in the sky, or the wildlife that lives in our seas and forests?"
- (Written in 1965)"There are some who say that we as young people must leave the GDR? Why! Here we have everything we could desire for, we must work together as youths for the betterment of our nation! Long live the GDR and Long live Ulbricht"