Berlin Wall – 20 Years Later – A reflection

1989 was an important year no doubt. Now 20 years have passed. This fact has been utilized most prominently in spiritual vertex of that year – Berlin.

One can find numerous exhibitions taking place in the city to honor the events of the 09th November, and the number of such events raises the question if whether all of this was simply a ploy to lure tourists? Go fish.

There is one common thread to be found in virtually all the events in Berlin this year:

i. How poor the East Germans were under communism
ii How brave they were to stand up against their regime
iii.The euphoria of the reunification, and the scant attention paid to those who wanted to have a better, independent GDR. There were also those within the GDR who had started to recognize the ramifications of reunification

Apart from the fact that there is no mention of the misgivings some countries might have had about the reunification, only one of the four possible versions of history are being presented. Those perspectives are

i. Those who were leaders in the GDR and have been disgraced. They are now non-persons in society, and it is not clear why.
ii.Those who have profited through the reunification. Their voice is clearly being heard in the testimonials being managed by the prevailing spin doctors today
iii. Those whose lives have become much more difficult through the change
iv. Those who have no recollection, either because they were too young or not yet born in 1989

One could raise the question why one should concentrate on the present when discussing history. This question is actually very easy to answer: All four of the aforementioned groups have a different viewpoint, and the collective memory of all four groups creates the true depiction of history. To understand this concept, it is important to look at the three groups whose perspective does not appear to be represented in the official recollections. Their viewpoint should be observed without judgement.

GDR leaders: What was their rationale? To what degree did their ascendancy relate to the Zeitgeist of the time? What was their true legacy? Did they leave anything memorable behind? The biggest question to pose is why there was no truth and reconciliation proceedings to be found in reunified Germany after 1990?

Reunification Losers: For those who have spent a longer period of time in the former East Germany, it is quite clear that this group is not small. The ramifications are numerous

* Population loss: Many estimate of a 50% loss by 2050
* Ostalgie: including the results of recent polls that show that a high percentage of former East Germans believe life was better under communism
* Strength of the GDR Socialist Unity Party SED) remnants: The left party is looked upon as offering a viable alternative to the traditional political offering
* No Future: One can find the complete loss of perspective today in the former East Germany

Wall before their time: Although they are statistically smaller in numbers, one has the group that were toddlers in 1989, or perhaps not yet born. One finds within this group a strong affinity towards Ostalgie, a sympathy towards the plight their parents and grandparents have endured since 1990…without posing the question whether they were part of the Stazi (East German Secret Police) or not. This phenomenon is not unique: Doesn’t nostalgia really mean we yearn for a time that never really happened to begin with?

So can we define the results?

Well, we cannot bring back the wall or the GDR and should have no desire to. As memorials are for reflection, we should pose the questions

* What was goal in 1989?
* What was achieved, and what was not?
* What does reality really look like? Do we like it? What needs to be changed?

But the biggest question is

If reunification took place in 1990, then how come Germany is made up of two countries still: separate and unequal, with distinct cultures and disparate perspectives?

To be placed into Angela Merkel’s suggestion box…..