Wall falls in on East Berlin communists

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FOR THE second time in history, the people have humbled the communists of East Berlin, writes Imre Karacs. The leadership of the Party of Democratic Socialism was forced to admit yesterday it had "made a mistake" in picking the "wrong" candidate for the central constituency of Mitte-Prenzlauer Berg.

The belated self-criticism averted a damaging clash with the rank-and- file, who had been due to challenge the decision tonight. For the word "wrong" does not come anywhere close to expressing the unsuitability of Admiral Elmar Schmaling, a Wessi, former spy, and fugitive from business creditors.

For a start, the admiral was the wrong kind of spy. In the early Eighties, he headed MAD, the West German military intelligence agency, before being sacked because of an affair. While he was with MAD, he was constantly outfoxed by his legendary opposite number in the East, Markus Wolf, alias Karla.

Admiral Schmaling is from Cologne has betrayed total ignorance about the geography of the constituency he hoped to win in September's parliamentary elections. The district, stretching from the Brandenburg Gate to Alexanderplatz, is one of three the PDS holds and must retain in order to gain up to 30 bonus seats in the Bundestag under Germany's complex electoral rules.

In fairness to the admiral, he did at least have the right kind of politics, including opposition to Nato and a track record of left-wing concerns, but he has yet to display compassion for the poor, especially the 200 creditors he ripped off to the tune of a million German marks. PDS comrades were stunned when the admiral's creditors turned up on their doorstep in east Berlin demanding money, and last week they suffered the indignity of seeing their man stopped in the street, and having his money confiscated by bailiffs - all in the glare of television lights. Replacement candidate Petra Pau is local and is not known to have any debts.