“Shine”. This in turn sounds more familiar to German ears, which are flooded with advertising. It is reminiscent of house cleaning, one could associate “blank”, “smooth” and “polished”. Because this is how everything should look neat and masterful in a tidy bourgeois home. “Shimmering” or “shining” would be alternative descriptions.
The freedom that East Germans were “given” three decades ago, it shimmers “smoothly and polished” than ever. And “freedom” sounds good anyway, the word is almost universally suitable as a communicative vitamin or sedative pill for almost all psychosomatic complaints. After all, one has theoretically been able to choose the doctor or his medication freely for 30 years. When you have time and money.
So in the past post-Stalinist years, men and women really got to know what civil liberty consists of and what it is made of. It is difficult for the citizens of the now formally united people to find the distinction between the two cornerstones in the individual understanding of freedom.
Where does the individual’s personal responsibility begin and where does self-attribution of all successes and failures end? Where does man’s egoism begin? Where is an arrogance, the devaluation of someone else’s life? And last but not least: Aren’t self-revaluation and external devaluation intrinsic typologies of a society, even of a system, that one did not even want to admit at the time, at the “times of change”?
I remember attending a cabaret event in my student club in the spring of 1990. Sometimes you didn’t play with the “timpani” yourself, but had a West German guest. A “left-wing radical” whose announcement posters read: “TV prohibition seal of approval”. Dietrich Kittner.
In the meantime – since he died in 2013 – he told endless black humor about, sang and caricatured the (West) German reality of the 80s and 90s of the last century that one could get scared and anxious. It was the famous laugh that got stuck in my throat that I can still remember well.
“You will see when despair overtakes you faster than your overpriced used cars from the west, especially when you think you are in the fast lane of life.” It was something like that. Three hours without a break. Afterwards it was clear. Sure: “TV prohibition seal of approval”. Nevertheless, it seemed to be an exaggeration to take his satirical inventory of the seemingly worn-out Kohl government, which was again able to revitalize itself emphatically through reunification.
While here in the east the landscapes and industrial areas began to blossom with some delay, the swimming pools and gyms rusted in the Ruhr area, and some wrapping was quickly handled. Quickly many no longer stood in lines in front of the supermarkets, instead at the waiting ticket tear-off machines in the employment office. The devaluation process of a newly won country began, at the same time in 1990, to the same extent as unity frenzy, D-Mark and frenzy of freedom.
The consequences of this double devaluation process continue to the present day. Not only material things became worthless – the loss of the saved car was still easy to cope with, the new expensive rent or house renovation less so. The process of ideal devaluation reached further and deeper in its psycho-social dimensions and consequences. Entire professions disappeared, qualifications were no longer valid, had to be adapted to new all-German conditions, wages, salaries and pension incomes still sometimes do not bear the title “equivalent”. One had to apologize for biographies.
In general, the end of the “Cold War”, which today has become a multipolar conflict, had many a painful realization that even October 3rd or 9th could not cover up: The “system competitor” had declared political and economic bankruptcy no longer forced to show the socially attractive face on the opposite side of the “iron curtain”. No more curtains, no subsidized school trips to Paris, London or the Acropolis either. Instead, the degrading walk to the social welfare office.
Just as the world began to divide anew, “globalization” followed – September 11, 2001 marked the beginning of the “war on terror”, followed the years of “political euphemism” in communication between the rulers and the people. Much, if not everything, was justified with “market necessities”, freedom was misused into an “everything is feasible” phenomenon.
Social dismantling was stylized as “restructuring of the social systems”, worse still as “reforms”, “growth” was called the exploitation of self and nature. The German Democratic Republic ceased to exist on October 3, 1990. Certainly quite rightly too. State repression, collective coercion and corruption by self-proclaimed “permanent revolutionaries” could not be endured in the long run, none of which really needed anyone.
A country should nevertheless remain “democratic”, that should be an immovable consensus. Do not support misanthropic politics, but promote a society based on solidarity, do not tolerate nationalism – even the rhetoric “Why not?” Is pathetic – but really international cooperation – all that would be needed. No measuring of morality with double standards, according to which one country oppresses minorities and the other country is under no circumstances allowed to.
To take care of your own weaknesses in democratic practice instead of instructing countries and their potentates who made the greatest sacrifices in World War II, instead of distinguishing between “right” and “wrong” dead …
There is still a lot to be done in our country in the near future, so that unity and law in freedom become and remain a real reality.
30 years of the German-German parallel world: high time to dismantle the concrete prejudices
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Thanks a lot for this.