A late shabbat shalom to all of you,
Twenty years after the fall of what used to be called the „iron curtain“, and the division of Europe it caused, the topic seems to be back in the media in Germany. Only now, it sometimes seems to me, it’s not the Eastern “dictatorships” that are the source of propaganda, but the Western “democracies”, namely: Germany. The new, united Germany, featuring still so many difficulties between “East” and “West”.
Right now, while writing these lines, I’m watching yet another documentary – German private TV channel “VOX” featuring “Süddeutsche Zeitung TV” this time – about life in the German Democratic Republic (DDR). I’ve seen quite a lot of them recently – and I’ve talked to people both in Eastern and Western Germany – and somehow they seem to be all pretty similar. Perhaps not in what they are reporting on and in what people they are talking with, but still in the outcome; the message.
Let’s take today’s example: In the spotlight: three women that used to belong to the “NVA”, the DDR’s army. All three of them volunteered, all three of them liked their work and life in the DDR. After its end only one of them could move with her career, as a security officer for the Federal Republic of Germany. The other two of them went unemployed and still struggle to find a place within the “new” united Germany. However all the three of them agree on one thing: It might not all have been perfect but still, life was better “back then” and they had been left alone, if not straight betrayed by “Western” Germany that – until today – all too often makes “Eastern” Germans feel as second class citizens. The documentary is pretty interesting that way; those women and their families are left quite a lot of space to tell their stories from their own point of view. Great journalistic craftsmanship so to say. But then, there is that narrator again, like the little voice in the background of one’s consciousness: “People tend to glorify history”, he declares. Again and again.
I haven’t seen a single documentary so far, where that narrator’s voice was missing. Not a single documentary, where I really felt like people where encouraged to make up their own mind. And sometimes, when I hear that narrator’s voice again, another voice raises in the background of my consciousness: “History is written by the winners”, that particular one says.
No doubt: The death strip, the withdrawal of so many basic, even human rights of DDR citizens were wrong in uncountable ways. In the end perhaps wrong for the further existence of that nation itself, most of all. Why couldn’t a state founded on the principle of the power of the people, be brought to trust her own citizens? I wonder had they had the freedom to come and go as they please, how many DDR “refugees” would have returned to their land of origin after some months at capitalist “utopia”? Some 15% of the population have made the run for the west during the time of forced separation, I learned tonight. No wonder no state can go on like that …
… but will the “united” Germany be able to? For some ten years talented, ambitious people have left exactly that Germany. And just like the DDR “back then” nobody in the “new” Germany gives a shit. German television is running documentaries and whole series on emigrants – everybody knows. And still nobody gives a shit. And whilst nobody cares those, who still have dreams, the achievers and achievers of tomorrow, the people that build up societies, companies, whole countries, are on the run from this particular one. Again. The only thing history teaches men is that history teaches men nothing – Mahatma Ghandi.
Sometimes there’s just no more to add to a wise man’s words …