CDU’s Böhmer blames baby killings on East German legacy

Wolfgang Böhmer, the conservative premier of the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, unleashed a wave of outrage on Sunday by blaming a grim spate of baby killings by their mothers on the brutal legacy of communist East Germany.

Böhmer, who was an East German gynaecologist before he went into politics, told the weekly news magazine Focus that eastern German mothers where more likely to murder their own children than western German women because of East Germany’s policies toward abortion. There have been several cases of baby killings in recent years in the former communist east.

“I explain this due to the frivolous attitude toward early life” in the eastern German states, the Christian Democratic (CDU) premier Böhmer said. He pointed to the fact that the communist east allowed women to have abortions up to the twelfth week of a pregnancy. “That still has an impact today.”

Böhmer’s musings that the baby killings for some women appeared to be “type of family planning” caused outrage across the political spectrum. The German government’s representative for issues affecting the eastern states, Transportation Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, called on him to retract his comments and “apologize to young parents.” The Social Democrat (SPD) and former mayor of the eastern city of Leipzig lambasted Böhmer’s comments in a statement as “pseudo-scientific rants” and a “malicious slandering of women in eastern Germany.”

Cornelia Pieper, the head of the Free Democrats (FPD) in Böhmer’s home state Saxony-Anhalt dismissed his theory simply as “humbug” to the Mitteldeutschen Zeitung. And his fellow Christian Democrat Markus Kurze, who is the CDU’s expert for social issues in the Saxony-Anhalt state parliament, told the same regional daily paper that “such a generalization must be rejected.”

Politicians in the neighbouring eastern state Brandenburg also attacked Böhmer’s comments. Almost three years ago, Brandenburg’s former interior minister, Jörg Schönbohm, sparked similar outrage by saying a case involving a woman who had murdered nine of her children was due to a “proletarianization” and “forced collectivism” in East German society.