FRANKFURT, WEST GERMANY, JULY 31 -- East German Labor Minister Regine Hildebrandt called today for a massive expansion of financial aid from Bonn to the struggling East German economy to prevent its complete collapse.
"What are we waiting for?" Hildebrandt snapped at an East Berlin news conference -- "for 150,000 people to smash windows on Alexanderplatz?"
Her outburst coincided with a call by East German finance officials for a huge infusion of new aid and a warning by the agency responsible for privatizing state-run industry that much of it is beyond rescue.
East and West Germany embarked on monetary union only a month ago, when unemployment in the East had already risen to a quarter-million, but many analysts predict it will surge to as many as 2 million by early 1991. It also has become clear in recent weeks that initial estimates of the amount of aid needed were far too optimistic, as the cost of unemployment benefits, health care and other social services multiplied.
Hildebrandt warned that failure by Bonn to provide additional support could spur heavy migration to West Germany, and she noted that 150,000 East Berliners alone already commute to jobs in the West.
Elsewhere today, an East German finance ministry official told the Reuter news agency that Bonn had underestimated East Germany's budget deficit and would have to provide at least 10 billion more marks in direct support payments for the rest of the year, on top of the 8 billion already allocated.
At the same time, a senior official of the agency entrusted with selling off most of East Germany's 8,000 state-owned companies declared that much of the industrial sector is collapsing and that "competitiveness hardly exists. . . . We're living from one day to the next."
Many economists estimate that a third of all East German industrial firms are doomed and that another third need extensive credits to survive.