Party Changes Name, Pledges to Yield $600 Million

Associated Press

East Germany's Communist Party on Sunday changed its name and promised to hand over $600 million in assets to the government in an apparent attempt to improve its image in advance of approaching elections.

Leaders of East Germany's disgraced Communist Party met and formally changed its name to the Party of Democratic Socialism. It previously had been known as the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.

ADN said the $600 million is from party dues and party-owned businesses such as printing operations. It did not say what the party's total reserves are.

The moves were the latest attempt by the Communists to shore up their image ahead of the March 18 elections. The first free balloting in the nation's 40-year history was made possible by a pro-democracy revolution last year that ousted hard-line Communist Party chief Erich Honecker on Oct. 18.

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