Searching for DDR-Nicaragua connection

When former minister of education of East Germany, Margot Honecker, received a medal for her help here in Nicaragua in the literacy campaign in the 1980s as part of the celebrations of the revolution on July 19th, I tried everything I could to get an interview with her. I also got through to all the officials and the spokespeople of president and ministry. Unfortunately though, in the end she declined.

Nevertheless, my search for possible questions cause enough stir around my friends in Germany that I was contacted in connection with this group trying to find their old class mates from a cadre school in East Germany. The Nicaraguans who had participated had for security reasons not used their real names and had never talked about where they where from.

Poster currently hanging around most of Le贸n
Poster currently hanging around most of Le贸n

Now I’m running around this country, trying to find them. everyone is really helpful and I’ve put up these posters around all the offices of anything that has to do with Sandinismo, and the hospital and so forth. At the agency for rents I found one guy who had been there the two years before, and I’ll interview him again on Tuesday. I will also try to go to all the Managua based TV stations, and put up posters n the capital and Granada.
But if any websurfer happens to have any clues, you are welcome to email me. 馃檪 See the poster for my email!

This Article came in El Nuevo Diario on September 3rd:

Buscan a nicas que estudiaron en la 聯Wilhelm Pieck聰

Sylvia Hern谩ndez
Johannes Wilm, originario de Alemania, vino al pa铆s a buscar a varios j贸venes nicarag眉enses que estudiaron en 1986 y 1987 en la Escuela de Cadres e Bogensee/Wandlitz 聯Wilhelm Pieck聰, junto con otros j贸venes de Alemania, Cuba y otros pa铆ses. Este joven quiere elaborar un documental titulado 聯驴D贸nde est谩s compa帽ero?聰.

Wilm dijo que para esa 茅poca y por razones de seguridad nunca intercambiaron sus verdaderos nombres y direcciones. Estos j贸venes hab铆an llegado a ese pa铆s a estudiar liderazgo pol铆tico.

聯Hemos tratado de buscar referencias, pero en ese entonces la Rep煤blica Democr谩tica de Alemania destruy贸 todo tipo de documentaci贸n que existi贸 de cada una de las personas que se encontraban estudiando, y se nos ha hecho dif铆cil poder contactarlos聰, dijo Wilm.

Este joven permanecer谩 en Nicaragua hasta el mes abril del pr贸ximo a帽o, y en su estad铆a se ha dedicado a realizar investigaciones sobre las tendencias sandinistas que se han formado desde el triunfo de la Revoluci贸n Sandinista.

Para mayor informaci贸n dej贸 a disposici贸n el n煤mero telef贸nico 917-3717, o bien, su correo electr贸nico (

I also gave interviews to Canal 2 and 10, the two biggest TV stations of the country and the other daily newspaper, La Prensa.

4 thoughts on “Searching for DDR-Nicaragua connection”

  1. So, I’m curious what your take is on why she wouldn’t speak to you and why it sounds like you ran into a bureaucratic stonewall?
    I’m also curious about the reactions you received from German friends who might have experienced life in the DDR.
    I’m really not trying to prejudge, because I traveled to Nicaragua in the mid-1980s and saw some of the good being done by former socialist/communist nations. But I’ve also heard stories of what life was like in the DDR and have to wonder how the honoring of Honecker is being greeted? It seems, at least, a dichotomy worth discussing more.

  2. Hey Jon,
    well, I think she wouldn’t speak to me because all the German journalists she has met so far have been assholes. Not amongst German youths, but in the German media, the cold war is clearly still alive.
    Actually all the Nicaraguans around her were really friendly. For them the times have clearly changed. Those I interviewed about the medal couldn’t understand at all why not Germans in general were proud of that medal — the whole German working class should feel that as an honor, one Sandinista woman said.
    One guy I interviewed who spoke pretty much for the FSLN, mentioned that they would really wish that now all of Germany takes her as an example. With the Berlin-wall gone, he figured, conditions are perfect for East Germans to spread the Marxism they had learned to the rest of the population.
    Interestingly, the positive take also includes those Nicaraguans who had been in the GDR themselves.
    One of them started crying when I interviewed him, and he said with what joy he was filled when he witnessed that. When the camera was turned off, he asked me to visit him and teach his kids (now in their 20s) some Marxism. "It has to come from one youngster to another," he explained.

    I will hopefully make it all available as part of my documentation of Nicaragua today!

  3. Well, I’m not surprised the Sandinistas would still honor her. And I’m not still not quetioning that Nicaragua benefited from DDR policies.
    But isn’t it also understandable that those who directly experienced life under the Honecker regime might question who really paid for Honecker’s honor? I think a parallel might be if Bush were honored somewhere in Africa where, I’m told it’s true, U.S. funding actually has done some good in fighting AIDS/HIV?
    The world is complicated and as I grow older I find that all good or bad seldom lies in a single approach.
    Best wishes.

  4. Well, I can see the connection you are drawing. But then there is a difference between Honecker and Bush. Erich Honecker abolished the death penalty and made it a point that socialism couldn’t advance if not the quality of life for the individual would advance. Most importantly, he called for mutual disarmament and to have a world free of nuclear weapons in 2000. It goes without saying that they didn’t start a war.
    Bush, on the other hand, is responsible for something like a million people, or 1/6 of the holocaust, which if the laws in place in the Nuremberg trials would mean death penalty.
    Of course, the Honeckers are responsible for not taking down the Berlin wall, at which 190 people died, earlier.
    There is no way to excuse that, but if a state decides to invite a former first lady or president at all, the Honeckers might very well be amongst those responsible for least deaths.
    The reason this seems shocking is that different from western head of States, those killed were people from their own country. Western countries are generally better at discriminating: leaving their own citizens in a cloud of marshmallows, beer, everlasting sport competitions and the humming noise from their TV, while killing poor people on the other side of the planet.
    PS: You are aware that the Socialist party once again is the biggest in Eastern Germany, right? West Germany and the US however, two countries who have never experienced any of it, are way better at anti-communism than those that were affected by it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.