East German Hard Currency Maestro Schalck-Golodkowski Dies

The man who persuaded a Cold War conservative leader in West Germany to save Communist East Germany from insolvency has died in Bavaria, where he fled just after the Berlin Wall came down. In 1983, Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski convinced Bavarian state premier Franz Josef Strauss, an ardent anti-communist and former Defense Minister, to lend his nearly bankrupt country a billion of West Germany's marks, prized as an enviably hard currency. Schalck-Golodkowski raised some 25 billion marks for the Communist state before its collapse in 1989, including through selling political prisoners. West Germany paid for the release of 34,000 people jailed for crimes such as trying to flee to the West.