Deutsche Post Mints Communist Medal by Accident | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 20.11.2008
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Deutsche Post Mints Communist Medal by Accident

A silver medal minted for collectors by Deutsche Post caused outrage in Germany Thursday, Nov. 20, with the discovery that it honors a 1946 act of communist dictatorship.

Wilhelm Pieck, left, and Otto Grotewohl, right

Wilhelm Pieck, left, and Otto Grotewohl, right, were accidentally honored by the medal

German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee demanded that Post 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 Post should instead commemorate the people persecuted by the communists.

The daily newspaper "Bild" said the medal was removed from sale Wednesday after its implications were realized.

Post's philately and medals department makes large numbers of expensive items for collectors seeking complete sets.

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