Wendehals (GDR)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Transparent against turning necks at a Monday demonstration

As a turncoat , in reference to the bird turncoat who were in time turn in the GDR designated 1,989 persons their sentiments against the backdrop of the collapsing socialist constantly adapting system of the current political situation. Earlier this term was applied to opportunists in general.


The concept of the political turning neck in the GDR was revived primarily by the writer Christa Wolf when she spoke to over 500,000 demonstrators on Berlin's Alexanderplatz five days before the fall of the Berlin Wall .

This was, for example, cadres of the SED , the FDJ or block parties that had previously represented the policy of the SED in public, but often umschwenkten with the turn in exactly opposite positions and this also be documented that they are in the CDU , the SPD or the FDP entered or continued to represent the policy of the “turned” bloc parties. Other examples were senior cadres in the production apparatus who became managers of the now privatized, formerly state- owned enterprises and combines and thus practiced what they had previously denounced in the course of the SED propaganda .

The word Wendehals has been used in German in the figurative sense since the 16th century , with the meaning: 'agile, unhesitatingly adapting person, hypocrite'.

In modern parlance, Wendehals also stands for a person who turns surprisingly against bystanders whom they previously stood by (see traitor ).

See also


  • Dieter Herberg, Doris Steffens, Elke Tellenbach: Key words of the turning point: Words book on public language use 1989/90 (= supplements to the journal For the Old Testament Science , 6th volume). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1997, ISBN 978-3-11-015398-9 , pp. 334-335.

Web links

Wiktionary: Wendehals  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Christa Wolf: Speech manuscript on dhm.de.
  2. Wolfgang Pfeifer et al .: "Wendehals". In: Etymological Dictionary of German (1993). Digitized version in the Digital Dictionary of the German Language, revised by Wolfgang Pfeifer, accessed on September 10, 2019 .