Well There Was No More Wall To Take

So we’ll just steal the balloon stands from last night’s show!

Balloons

They’re going like hotcakes, folks. Or they went like hotcakes, I should say, before the organizers had a chance to clear all of the 7000 away. And the first ones have shown up on eBay, for crying out loud.

Die Ballon-Halter der Lichtgrenze werden offenbar zum Sammlerobjekt. Einige verschwanden nach der Aktion zum 25. Jahrestag des Mauerfalls noch in der Nacht. Der erste war bei Ebay aufgetaucht.

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German Of The Day: Der Elende Rest

That means “the miserable remnants” and that’s what singer-songwriter and former East German dissident Wolf Biermann just called SED leftovers the Left Party today at a ceremony commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall. To their faces. In the Reichstag itself.

Somebody’s got to remind folks about this now and then. Not that anybody here cares…

Eure Sprüche, die habt ihr drauf … ihr müsst mir gar nichts erzählen.”

Let There Be Wall

I mean Lichtgrenze.

The LICHTGRENZE is the light installation along the former path of the wall through the city center. It will trace the division of the city over a stretch of approximately 12 kilometers and with thousands of illuminated balloons as an impressive installation in Berlin from 8 to 9 November, 2014. At once emotional, poetic, and serious, this installation remembers the recent historical event, the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

Once An Ex-Communist Always An Ex-Communist

Another Ex-cellent chance to ex-ceed, I’d say. And a great way to celebrate the coming 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall!

Communist

Well isn’t this special. Germany’s main center-left party, the Social Democrats (SPD) – currently in power in Berlin with Merkel & Co. – said Tuesday a party ballot in eastern Thuringia state showed 70 percent favoring negotiations to join a regional government led by Left Party candidate Bodo Ramelow. The Left Party used to be the PDS which used to be the SED (the East German communist party), of course, but nobody with any manners likes to put it that way so I figured I would.

Do you think this coming ex-communist coalition with the SPD upsets anyone over here? Of course not. The only thing that ruffled a few folks’ feathers was the audacity Germany’s president Joachim Gauck had – a former East German pro-democracy activist – by openly questioning whether a party with communist roots like the Left Party could really be trusted or not. Can you imagine that? Who does this president of Germany think he is anyway? The president of Germany?

“There are parts of this party where I, like many others, have problems developing this trust (he means like the openly Stalinist folks).

What’s All The Excitement About?

I’ve never made any secret about being an unrepenting communist.

Lötzsch

This is another one of those “only in Germany” kind of things. Well, to be fair, it’s more like an “only in Berlin” kind of thing.

It goes like this: The Left Party – a “democratic socialist” party stemming directly from the PDS (some of us referred to it as the Partei der Stasi) which in turn was a creature that had stemmed directly from the black lagoon of GDR SED East German Communism, never stops going through the motions of pretending that it isn’t communist in nature (if not in deed) while everyone here knows of course that it is. It’s just some kind of weird parlour game that Germans play.

The Left Party is the refuge for all of those hundreds of thousands of incorrigible die-hard Ostalgie dinosaurs who cannot except the fact that their worldview is in fact irretrievably gone (I feel for some of them in a way, it is unrealistic of us to think that the older ones can except it). Check out this election map of Berlin from two months ago if you don’t believe me.

Occasionally this game gets a little out of hand, however, and folks have to speak up to have them tone it down again for awhile so the game can continue in a more civilized and orderly fashion. That just happened once again with the Left Party attempt to have their ex-party boss Gesine Lötzsch herself (hardliner is the nice word for her) placed at the head of the Bundestag‘s Budget Committee.

Now everyone is suddenly surprized and concerned, it seems – to include the “regular” green kind of left-wing dream-world crowd, albeit from the West – that she is not prepared “to distance herself” from her communist past. This is unfair irgendwie (somehow). I understand completely why she has no business being there in the Bundestag and all. But how can you be expected to distance yourself from a past that is still your present?

Abgeordnete von Union und Grünen wollen die Linke Gesine Lötzsch als Vorsitzende des Haushaltsausschusses los werden. Der Grund dafür ist ihr unkritischer Umgang mit der DDR-Vergangenheit.

Confirm Your Prejudice Here

Germans still have walls in their heads? Why should that surprise anybody? Everybody else does, too. It’s just that the Germans are the only ones who have an excuse for it, sort of.

Wall

“Eastern Germans often say that western Germans are arrogant, materialistic, more bureaucratic and superficial.”

…But Eastern Germans aren’t the only ones still holding prejudices – western Germans have their own clichés about Germans from the former GDR. According to surveys conducted by leading opinion research centers, western Germans think Eastern Germans are sour, mistrustful and anxious. On the other hand, only 43 percent of western Germans considered eastern Germans “motivated” and “flexible.”

And both are right, of course. Hey, if you believe you are a second class citizen, then you are one. And if you believe you are the superior one who calls all the shots, then you are. But it’s kind of fun watching these folks slowly ride off into the East-West sunset. Both camps know quite well that they’re already von gestern (yesterday’s news). Or as Butt-Head used to put it: “Uh-huh, old people, uh-huh.”

“The second and third generations after the unification are much more optimistic, and see more equality between east and west. The proportion of those who think there are more differences than similarities between eastern and western Germans has continuously decreased over the past years.”

And have a happy Unification Day already.

No Berlin Wall Here

Not unless you look at how Berliners vote, that is.

Berlin

There was no great cross-border migration in the city after 1989. People had security of tenure in their flats, and they stayed put. Berlin had a large concentration of members of the Socialist Unity Party (as the communist party in East Germany was called), as well as the civil servants and Stasi operatives who kept the communist state running, and they have remained in their areas and transferred their loyalty to Die Linke.

PS: Speaking of cross-border migration, whatever happened to Ray? You know, that Dutch dude who ripped off Berlin’s youth services for 30,000 euros while doing his memory loss show for months on end? Well, he just got slammed with all the Härte (severity) of German law and will now have to perform 150 hours of community work AND receive counseling. Yowie. Let me tell you what. The Germans do NOT mess around when it comes to dishing out draconic punishment.

The Next Failed Berlin Wall Analogy

This happens all the time (geez, this time it even happened in the Wall Street Journal).

Wall

People are always comparing the world’s famous and infamous walls (and there sure are a lot of them, aren’t there?) to that über-infamous Berlin one and, well, they just plain refuse to get it right. This time it’s the fence built along the border between the US and Mexico’s turn.

I’ll try and explain: The Berlin Wall was built to keep people in. You know, like a prison wall? The fence in question, as far as I understand it, is being built to keep people out. I know, that’s a feiner Unterschied (fine distinction) here, but it is an important one. And I just wanted to try to set the record straight, again.

The border-security fence in the Senate bill would be America’s Berlin Wall—a historic embarrassment.