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Featured / November 9, 2009

hasselhoff-at-berlin-wall

One of the great ironies of the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago is that the East German protest leaders who led the uprising did not want unification with West Germany.

It’s important on this anniversary to distinguish between two entirely different events: first, the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 1989; and then German unification, on October 3, 1990. Americans often conflate the two into one process. But for Germans and those who were there, it’s a much more complicated story. The fall of the Berlin Wall became a poisoned memory for a certain set of Easterners, thanks to the events that followed that event.

The movement to overthrow the totalitarian regime in East Germany and tear down the wall was led by a relatively small number of activists and rejectionists whose aim wasn’t unification, but rather an independent, free, idealistic socialist East Germany. These people were very different from the institutional opposition that had success elsewhere in the East Bloc, which arose after Gorbachev eased Soviet pressure and allowed a kind of top-down reform in places like Hungary and Poland. But in East Germany, the government was too hardline and unwilling to reform, so opposition arose from underground operators.

The groups that got the ball rolling for the mass street protests that eventually convinced the ruling SED party to depose dictator Erich Honecker, install the more moderate Egon Krenz, and liberalize travel restrictions, largely operated from under the protective umbrella of the Lutheran church, which enjoyed special status in East Germany. These groups included human rights activists, environmental activists, peace activists, and underground artists and musicians–in other words, they were secular, but they still took refuge in the churches. Much of the church leadership itself was also heavily involved in the opposition.

Most of these people, the ones who did the legwork to bring down the wall, often paying a dear personal price, were too leftwing and idealistic for those Americans who were looking for self-affirmation in Germany’s revolution . They weren’t protesting for McDonald’s and Western pop music (not even David Hasselhoff’s “Looking for Freedom”), and they sure as hell weren’t inspired by Ronald Reagan. But our inability to distinguish the fall of the Berlin Wall from Germany’s unification means this awkward twist is lost in American coverage anyway.

Take Thomas Friedman writing about the fall of the wall a few weeks ago, celebrates a Dunkin Donuts branch at the Brandenburg Gate, which served as the backdrop for some of the most stirring images from November 9th: “Normally, I am horrified by American fast food brands near iconic sites, but in the case of this once open sore between East and West, I find it something of a balm. The war over Europe is indeed over. People power won. We can stand down–pass the doughnuts.”

dunkin2

Unfortunately for Friedman, the hamburgers-and-Hasselhoff set had fuck all to do with the fall of the wall. They did, however, bring about unification, much to the chagrin of the folks who facilitated the breach. The people who brought down the wall at the risk of being beaten, jailed, fired, sent off to military service, or expatriated lost control of the process as soon as the stakes for participation dropped to nil. At that point–and it was only days after the fall of the wall–the chant in the streets of the GDR changed from “we are the people” to “we are one people.”

It also turned out that many of the East German church leaders who had harbored the hardcore rejectionists and activists did not share their vision for post-wall East Germany, and quickly struck alliances with the West German Christian Democrats, Helmut Kohl’s right-of-center pro-unification party. Kohl’s party funded an Eastern sister party and literally passed out bananas to woo Eastern voters.

In hindsight, it’s often seen as inevitable that the two Germanys would reunite. But this, too, is a somewhat revisionist view. The territories that made up East and West Germany had previously been properly united for only a relatively brief period, from 1871 to 1945, from Kaiser Wilhelm’s consolidation following the Franco-Prussian War until the dissolution of Germany after World War II. (Nobody would advocate a Germany based on the Holy Roman Empire, another period when the two Germanys were under common rule-along with Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, Slovenia, and parts of Poland, France, and Italy.) The southern border of East Germany-with Bavaria-was also a religious fault line, with the Oktoberfest state traditionally Catholic and the GDR’s Thuringia mostly Protestant from a few years after the Reformation. So again, on the face of it, there was no overriding logical necessity for reunion.

germanyunif

Look at it this way: When Canada gained independence from Britain in 1931, nobody thought it inevitable that the US and Canada–nations that share a 3000-mile border, virtually integrated economies, a common language, and a common origin as British colonies–would unite.

Nevertheless, the 1990 election that determined East Germany’s path forward was indeed won with promises of BMWs and bananas (which, incidentally, isn’t the same as Dodges and doughnuts), as the reactionary hamburgers-and-Hasselhoff voters carried the day. But this is the ugly part of the story-the part where money buys elections, the part where shrill sloganeering drowns out nuanced discussion, the part where an abstract pleasant-sounding goal beats any platform detailing the nuts and bolts of how to get there. In short, the election that led to unification was rife with exactly the sorts of things we bemoan in our own country, but with unimaginably high stakes: the continued existence of the voters’ country.

It is a great disservice to the brave East Germans who brought down the wall to confuse its fall with unification and to see, for instance, the proliferation of American fast food joints at the Brandenburg Gate as somehow fitting tribute to the events of November 9. Doing so allows the perpetuation of some of the biggest lies we–we, as in Americans–tell ourselves. These lies-about the motivation of the people who brought down the wall, about the inevitability of their embrace of the West, about rock and roll and Coca Cola and fucking doughnuts-are so insidious because they inform our ideas about freedom and the ostensible US role in spreading it. Nothing could be more ignorant and ahistorical–except perhaps crediting Reagan, which much of the rest of the US media was busy doing this week.

Tim Mohr writes for the Daily Beast and the Huffington Post.

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53 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. doctor k  |  November 9th, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I learn something new every day there’s a new exile article. granted, it’s only once every nine years or so nowadays but it’s still welcome whatever the frequency is

  • 2. Parzival  |  November 9th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    You know what seldom ever gets discussed about the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and what really led to it, is the historical fact that some weeks proceeding the Fall of the Wall, Hungary began letting “Eastern ” citizens, including East Germans through to the West without any harassment. It was only going to be a matter of time before the whole East-West facade was going to evaporate under that kind of pressure due to the hemorrhaging of the “Iron Curtain” in Hungary. Very interesting fact about East Germany wanting to go it alone independently from the West however. Sad that Eastern Germany has become the poor cousin left out in the cold economically while the West profits off the resources (i.e. labor) of its poor cousin…

  • 3. mike from Arlington  |  November 9th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    You missed this nugget.

    “Thatcher to Gorbechev:

    We are very concerned about the processes taking place in Eastern Germany. Some big changes could happen there, forced partly by the state of the society and partly by the illness of Erich Honecker. One example of this is the flight of thousands of people from the GDR to the FRG. All of this is on the surface, it is very important but even more important is something else.

    The reunification of Germany is not in the interests of Britain and Western Europe. It might look different from public pronouncements, in official communiqué at Nato meetings, but it is not worth paying ones attention to it. We do not want a united Germany. This would have led to a change to post-war borders and we can not allow that because such development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security.

    In the same way, a destabilisation of Eastern Europe and breakdown of the Warsaw Pact are also not in our interests. Of course, internal changes are happening in all Eastern European countries, somewhere they are deeper than in others. However, we would prefer if those processes were entirely internal, we would not interfere in them or push the de-communisation of Eastern Europe. I can say that the President of the United States is of the same position. He sent me a telegram to Tokyo in which he asked me directly to tell you that the United States would not do anything that might put at risk the security of the Soviet Union or perceived by the Soviet society as danger. I am fulfilling his request.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6829416.ece?token=null&offset=12&page=2

  • 4. az  |  November 9th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Well Zizek wrote a more or less similar story about Eastern Europe overall:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/opinion/09zizek.html?_r=1

  • 5. Metallica  |  November 9th, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    When I was in Europe and got to Berlin, I saw my first Dunkin’ Donuts in months.

    But the donut was kinda stale. It was a disappointment. Would not recommend.

  • 6. Simple  |  November 9th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    West Germans are not exactly happy with being shackled to East Germany, whatever their original intentions were.

    Hungarians are also infamous for sticking it to the Russians. How come they are not covered for their role in performing an action that would have seen their country burn if they had pulled that stunt a mere six years earlier?

  • 7. diletant observer  |  November 10th, 2009 at 12:14 am

    The reunification was inevitable because it was desired. Off course Germany was united only for a brief period but it was a recent period and set a priori.

    by the way, if most of the people didn’t want the reunification, how could it have been possible? I don’t remember any anti-reunification protests in Germany, do you?

  • 8. aleke  |  November 10th, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Oops, 59% of East Germans want East Germany back.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,634122,00.html

  • 9. Pádraig Ó Buth Chanain  |  November 10th, 2009 at 2:44 am

    What uprising? Gorbachev sold the place to NATO for a song. The East Germans milled around in the streets like droverless cattle while the arrangements for the Anschluss were being made, then took part in a few well-managed media events (“the fall of the wall”, etc.) as unpaid extras. No uprising, no “peaceful revolution”: just a transfer of power from one state to another.

    Spot on about “church leaders”, though. The spiritual wing of NATO, that’s the EKD.

  • 10. Tarf Noogies  |  November 10th, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Mike from Arlington: Thatcher was worried about how it might all play out, so she put her handbagging tactics to one side and tried to be nice and diplomatic with Gorbachev, who charmed her so much that she had decided to be upfront.

    As for reunification itself, every East German ought to get down on their hands and knees and kiss Helmut Kohl’s titanic teutonic behind for having the guts and ability to plan and merge the two economies so that the Ossis were springboarded into the new economy.

  • 11. m  |  November 10th, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Hungary – Where We Went Wrong

    I would encourage everyone to read this great interview with Hungarian philosopher GM Tamás, that really puts things in context. He was one of the leaders of the ’89 opposition movement in Hungary but came to regret his naiveté bitterly after seeing his country devastated by the capitalist takeover.
    Basically, people in Eastern Europe really had no idea what was in store for them. They expected “freedom and affluence”, yet what followed was the destruction of their respective national economies, and in many cases, the destruction of millions of lives.

  • 12. Carlos  |  November 10th, 2009 at 7:14 am

    What idiot wrote this article? If anything is revisionist, it’s the pathetic “history” this moronic author sets forth. I was in Berlin two weeks after the wall fell. I will never forget traveling by train through East Germany just before dawn and seeing a river of tailights headed towards West Germany. The Ossis couldn’t wait to get to the West and visit relatives, taste freedom, abandon socialism, etc. Sure, a small minority of dumbshits probably wanted “real” socialism (idiots), but there’s a small minority of dumbshits in the US who want “real” socialism here (idiots). A united Germany was an inevitability when the Wall fell. Western governments engaged in the Cold War to stop the Soviets, and they succeeded. The West didn’t topple the Steel Curtain so a bunch of dumbshit pseudo-intellectuals could engage in a new and improved East Germany.

    Oh, and that Thatcher-Gorbachev commnique is bunk. So don’t even start with that.

  • 13. Schlacke  |  November 10th, 2009 at 8:31 am

    @Simple: What kind of stunt are you talking about?

  • 14. aleke  |  November 10th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    @Carlos: Don’t you have a show to be blubbering thru, mormon piggy?

  • 15. Expat in BY  |  November 10th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I remember Germany in 1991 and 1992, the two years that I went hitching around in Europe. At that time, Eastern Germans appeared to believe that their country was sold out for very little to the West – that they all had become economically second-class citizens of the new Germany -, while the Western Germans regarded the East as a basket case – their “cross to bear” so to speak, particularly as the economy in 1992 nosedived in that country. Dividing the wall-falling and the reunification adds to the analysis of the two Germanies at that point in history than considering both happenings as a single event.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t consider the 1871-1945 period a particularly short period of time. Although certainly not as long lasting as French or British history, or even the history of the earlier-existing Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Prussian-organized German Empire still managed to survive for three generations before that state effectively committed suicide. Had the French not pushed Germany into bankruptcy over WWI reparations, and had Hitler not been listened to by the German public, pre-WWII Germany might have had an uninterrupted history for quite a number of generations more.

    Also, to use the religious argument to suggest that reunification of Germany wasn’t inevitable seems misused; there certainly was no religious homogeneity in the post-WWII creation of the former West Germany (French, British, and American Sectors) – the Catholics of the Hapsburg’s Holy Roman Empire didn’t get much further north than Bavaria – maybe one or two minor Catholic principalities north of their border survived the 30 Years War with the support of the Hapsburg Spanish in present Belgium.

    But such earlier history presented in the latter part of the article doesn’t need to be used to justify its main assertion. Given the attitudes I saw in 1991 and 1992, treating the reunification as separate from the wall falling simply makes much more sense than mixing the two events (as CNN and BBC seemed to do almost as a reflex in their coverage of the past few days).

  • 16. obvious  |  November 10th, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    @ #12,

    i was scrolling through the comments section, just to find the first overtly retarded post. then carlos just happened to show up. carlos, the neocon revisionist idiot whose previous posts whitewashed every neoliberal, ‘freedon lovin’ CIA-backed action before.

    those east germans drank the cool aid too. but then from your previous posts, you’re the type of person who wants inefficient, commie-sympathizing, socialist policies burnt at the altar of an idealized chicago school capitalism.

    now let’s see when your OCD ass responds with yet another disingenuous post.

  • 17. tam  |  November 10th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Vintage exile stuff. I was starting to think that being back in the US was making you forget that the rest of the world is at least as weird as Victorville. More articles about the rest of the world please. Ideally by Mr Brecher, but failing that, this sort of thing will do very nicely as a stopgap…

    btw, just in case I wasn’t the only one belatedly realise this weird coincidence the other day, did everyone else know that this key moment in recent history also happened on (European) 9/11?

  • 18. Josephus P. Franks  |  November 10th, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Carlos, 59% a “small minority” does not make. And if you are a Unitedstatesian, it does not suit you to call a majority of East Germans “stupid”.

  • 19. Jess  |  November 10th, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    If some East Germans worked for decades to undermine their tyrannical government and replace it with “democracy”, only to not like the result of that “democracy”, well, they’re like a lot of deposers of tyrants. You’ve got several sides in the English Civil War, everyone during the French Revolution, the Cossacks, the secular Iranians who helped overthrow the Shah, etc., …

    Actually most such people weren’t really looking for “democracy”, so much as they were nominating themselves to be the next set of tyrants.

  • 20. Carlos  |  November 10th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    @Josephus

    That poll is recent. It doesn’t reflect the attitude of Ossis at the time the wall fell. In fact, it really reflects reminiscing about the good old time through rose-colored glasses. A lot of those surveyed with just kids when the Wall fell and really don’t have an appreciation of what East Germany was really like. The stupids were the “real” socialists written about in this shit article at the time the Wall fell.

    @obvious and aleke–look you exiled monkeys, if either of you have a thought emanate from your underused brains that isn’t put there by what you read on the exiled, i’ll be fucking shocked. call me a fucking neocon, blah, blah, blah, but to ascribe the fall of the wall to a few dumbshit activists in East Germany who were the “true” socialists is absolutely retarded and whitewashes and revises the Cold War, which was the defining period for the West and the East for decades. If you are too young or too stupid to understand this, then tough shit, but the Cold War was won by the Western powers (yes, the hated US, Britain, West Germany, the cowardly frogs, etc.) when the Wall fell. After that, your dear, departed Soviets (and your salivating-inducing, iditotic political philosophy of socialistic communism) went down the historical shitter. The West won. Hooray USA. You can hate, revise, and bury your ostrich head in the sand all you want, but the good guys won, the opppressors lost, and all you exiled sycophants who crave a way out of your shitty, lack-of-perspective lives through the end of evil capitalism and corporate greed and the rest of your litany of whining bullshit that never seems to acknowledge that life ain’t perfect need to accept that.

  • 21. False Prophet  |  November 10th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks for the perspective–it edifies previous arguments along these lines. Among them, Benjamin Barber in “Jihad Vs. McWorld”, talking about the underground groups in East Germany who were discussing the outline of a future East German democratic state before the Wall fell and Western globalists hijacked the process.

    And this Slate article debunking another favourite end of the Cold War myth: John Paul II’s “help” in ending communism.

  • 22. Frank  |  November 10th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Some mixed metaphors: it wasn’t a “cross to bear” it was a “bottomless barrel”, into which one shoveled money to renew East German infrastructure, which in fact worked reasonably well and didn’t need to be replaced overnight. Plus the East Germans actually encouraged women to work, and provided them with child care… in all my years in (West) Germany I met just one west German female engineer. The west German morality mandated children, the kitchen, and the church for women, and hasn’t notably improved since then. Plus, children are less welcome than pet dogs. And once taxes are put up, there is never a reason to reduce them… German bureaucracy is self-perpetuating, and makes Kafka look wimpy.

    I got my own chunk of the wall, it was an inspirational moment in history, even if it didn’t work out as expected. I dodged the East German patrols to hack out my piece, didn’t see Sarko, though I understand he was on the east side ;-) He must have been light-footed to dodge the landmines… does his piece have graffiti I wonder?

  • 23. obvious  |  November 10th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    give it up carlos. the only people who take you seriously are the idiots who read the national review. then you have your financial overlords. they’re thankful for credulous dumbasses like you. you do their dirty work, often without knowing it.

  • 24. Expat in BY  |  November 11th, 2009 at 12:08 am

    22. Frank

    Your input also makes sense; the infrastructure in Leipzig did seem reasonably functional, and another gripe I heard in the East was about how all the jobs to “fix” it all were awarded to Western Germans.

    And yeah, I ran into bits of the East-West cultural divide over women after befriending a sports medicine doctor in Leipzig. She had a hard time finding work, but was determined and finally found her place in the new order. Her child went to kindergarten (nursery school) during the day, though, even in 1992. I got the impression that such services were universal in Germany, not just provided in the East.

    All the pieces of the Berlin Wall I had were with grafitti on them; all of them I got for free (from friends, or pulling small chips away at unwatched sections in 1991). Not sure what happened to the pieces I took with me anymore. I gave away one piece to a German-Canadian acquaintance in northern British Columbia, who greatly appreciated it; he probably still knows where his piece of wall is.

  • 25. Allen  |  November 11th, 2009 at 1:18 am

    @Carlos (Thou doth protest too much, methinks?) Relax, I’m reasonably sure the march of Western capitalism and the bright shining end of history, with its triumph of the “Good” and all, probably don’t need your added histrionic defense at this point.

    You are wrong about Thatcher, though. She really did have a deep dislike for the idea of a new united Germany, which she (at least briefly) thought would be the new big threat of the nineties. She did believe, though, that through unshakable solidarity between France and Great Britain, and an effective use of the new Russia, Germany might successfully be contained. (What a relief!)

    Now tell me, why does this factoid vex you? Does this little historical oddity impugn the integrity of the “Triumph” canon? Is it somehow undignified to imagine that a “hero” such as Maggie Thatcher might also have had some silly old fashioned ideas that don’t square with the general narrative arc of the “Good” and its victory?

    Well I guess “life ain’t perfect”; but, on the other hand, those who sully the pristine nature of history by inserting socialists in the wrong place and being irreverent to its heroes may safely be drowned … in condescension.

  • 26. peter  |  November 11th, 2009 at 2:54 am

    I hate you all for being such smartasses about everything

  • 27. Strahlungsamt  |  November 11th, 2009 at 5:38 am

    The day Ronnie Reagan gave his “Mr Gorbatchov, Tear Down This Wall!” speech, if they had turned the cameras around, they would have seen a completely different picture.

    Up front was RR, and the US and German politicos. Behind them were a thousand or so supporters. Behind them a police cordon and thousands upon thousands of demonstrators denouncing Reagan. It literally stretched miles back.

    I know. I was there protesting.

  • 28. Strahlungsamt  |  November 11th, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Also, if you want to understand just how weird Berlin was in those days, go to Youtube and type in “Norbert Kubat Dreieck” (I can’t post the link for some reason).

    It’s only in German but what a video. In 1988, East and West Berlin made the last of their Gebietsaustauche, or territorial swaps of land. One piece of land that went to the West was the “Lenne Triangle” in front of Potsdamer Platz. It was a separate piece of land from the main wall and had a separate fence around it.
    About 6 weeks before it was handed over, the fence was taken down. Then it got occupied by punk-hippie types who started their own mini-state (Kubatstan) in there.
    The West Berlin police couldn’t go in there, so the punks had free reign and threw rocks at the police from the inside. They set up their own eco-commune inside and started farming and raising animals.
    The whole time, the East German police kept watch from over the Wall and, at one point, warned the West Berlin police to stop throwing gas bombs inside.
    Finally, on July 1st 1988, the land became West Berlin. The Police marched in and cleared the area. Then the hippies all climbed over the ladder to defect and start a new life in the East. The East Germans received them in army trucks, gave them a ceremonial breakfast, and sent them back to West Berlin and told them not to come back.

  • 29. Strahlungsamt  |  November 11th, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Here’s that link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9atQeTuwr_c&feature=PlayList&p=C0509BBD84798056&index=0&playnext=1

  • 30. LBJ  |  November 11th, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Hey Carlos,
    Is it so difficult for your pea-sized brain to tell the address “exiledonline.com” from “freerepublic.com”? Or are you dying to have someone bash your head in until it fits the pea inside it, letting all that stinky hot air out?

  • 31. General Foods  |  November 11th, 2009 at 7:00 am

    East Germany was a fun, wild place in the early 1990s. By 2000, it had been turned into Disneyland. The good guys absolutely did win, and then proceeded to remake the place in their own image: bland, culturally illiterate, daintily floating in a cocoon of smug self-righteousness. But that’s still way better than a visit from the Stasi.

  • 32. z  |  November 11th, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Carlos, you’re a moron. of course a very typically American one. Listen up man, I’m from eastern Europe and you have no idea about what people thought back then or what they think today. Yeah, people wanted to get rid of the state-capitalist dictatorships, that’s true, but they didn’t want the restoration of private capitalism, especially not in its vicious neoliberal form. Frankly, most people back then didn’t have any idea what capitalism is like. But still, there were polls carried out in those days, in Poland, Russia and Hungary (don’t know about the DDR), and clearly the huge majority wanted either democratic socialism or Scandinavian sort-of “moderated” capitalism with a very strong welfare state and regulation.

    Only a tiny fraction of the populace wanted hardcore-neoliberal capitalism imposed on them – and even the “dumbshits” who wanted something of the sort supposed that it would mean their country would become as rich as England or the US in 2 weeks or something.
    Guess you were one of these clowns, like your friend Jeffrey Sachs and other western geniuses responsible for what amounts to economic genocide in Russia, the Baltics etc.

    What happened instead, their country’s economy was totally smashed out as western capital bought up and liquidated local industries as potential competitors. Eastern Europe had a recession (or rather a depression) in the 90s which was (in relative terms) far more severe than the great depression in the US. With the piopulation thrown into unemployment, poverty, and a chaotic, cruel society riddled with crime the new political systems are utterly corrupt, they sole purpose is to guarantee the brutal new economic order which is lucrative for foreign capitalist and a tiny layer of their local managers, but which is not much better than the pre-89 system, and just as repressive. In material terms, it’s much worse for the majority, by the way.

    But discontent is brewing, don’t worry. So far it has (unfortunately) taken fascist/nationalist forms, but ultimately it has to and will become anti-capitalist and join up with similar tendencies in the West.

  • 33. mga  |  November 11th, 2009 at 8:14 am

    reading the friedman article next to the zizek article linked @4 made my day.

  • 34. Petrovich  |  November 11th, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Yes I saw those protests! For weeks, almost every day. I am from west Berlin and during the time before the official re-unification,and even on October 3rd ’90,the official re-unification day, thousands of young and older people from the west and the east were demonstrating in Berlin against this act of cheque book occupation/national sell out. However, in the media we got coverage only if some cops got a bloddy nose – and then we were denounced as supporters of the old GDR regime. Which was utter bollocks, it was mostly lefties, that’s right but we “westerners” were anarchists, autonomists, ecologists etc. – the “easterners” were anti-authoritan capitalism critcs who had been harrassed already in GDR for demanding human rights to be respected. This to be added to this rea example of a good coverage of those days.

    By the way, when Helmut Kohl was speaking at Rathaus Schoeneberg on November 11th before a huge crowd of Berliners fromboth parts of the city, and he got into re-unification blahblah, people started furiously to whistle. If you see those TV pictures fromthat even, you can’t even hear him. This is how popular re-unification was before the right wing propaganda started…

  • 35. az  |  November 11th, 2009 at 9:37 am

    aleke, obvious, etc.: why are you guys wasting time on a cocksucker with no credibility? I mean honestly, anyone could have written what he did just to piss the likes of you off. That doesn’t make it true.

  • 36. Vanya  |  November 11th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    I rarely come to this site… Who is this cabron Carlos? “The West won”? What’s “the West”? Go poor some more French wine down the toilet, con! “Hooray USA”? Scream that in one of the growing soup kitchen lines in the States and see how it plays out. The Soviets “went down the historic shitter”? Hello from recently liberated Tskhinval! What’s up, con? Your boy coudn’t master a brigade or two to save the Gruzinsky dumb asses, could he?

  • 37. Vanya  |  November 11th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Typo… “muster a brigade or two”…

  • 38. Mandamus  |  November 12th, 2009 at 6:33 am

    People who instigate actions like this should never be allowed to participate in the aftermath. It’s not “for the people” that the leaders fought, it’s for themselves. I’d imagine that they pictured themselves picking up the reins after the fall of east Germany and leading the people onward into the future. With THEM in charge. People are funny that way. Take Quebec in Canada. The separatist leaders want a free independent Quebec with themselves at the top. Have a psychic come in and tell them that they will have no part in what comes after, and I’d imagine their enthusiasm would fade significantly.

  • 39. Boris Nemtsov  |  November 12th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    How the fuck did someone like Carlos ever discover this site? You realize this newspaper was called The Exile for about 10 years, these guys lived there, Taibbi, Ames, maybe this guy Mohr. Did you? You don’t know shit about Eastern Europe, Russia, or socialism, don’t know shit about the people who suffered tremendously from Russian “reform” in the 1990s. Just shut up you pudwhack yank douche. My LDPR-leaning students from Russian Humanitarian were just as retarded about history as you but at least they’re more open-minded.

  • 40. Concerned Citizen  |  November 12th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Lest you all Gangbang Carlos too thoroughly and run out of flesh, allow me to provide some fresh meat for the grinder.

    America won the Cold War and emerged as global hegemon. No rational, sentient human being can deny this. The cute Commies thought they could have 20-25 percent of GDP going towards the military at the expense of consumer goods and investment in civilian infrastructure. This meant that citizens of the Eastern Bloc literally couldn’t even get toilet paper reliably. Truly disgusting.

    Furthermore, the impacts of the Chernobyl disaster and world opinion about Soviet technology contributed to the delegitimization of the regime. Combined with Gorbachev’s new reforms of the Soviet Union both internally and internationally, the people finally had breathing room.

    Oh, and Reagan probably did help bring it to a close, though I don’t give the senile fuck too much credit given the sheer incompetence of the Soviet Union.

  • 41. captain america  |  November 12th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    so, i was at my russian language club last night, and there was a couple there, russian wife, american husband. she was from moscow. i asked her if she wants to go back, and she said no because there’s a lot more freedom here in the US.

    i’m just posting this to annoy everyone but carlos, even though it is true.

  • 42. Strahlungsamt  |  November 13th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    On the night the Wall fell, there were few calls for reunification. In fact, most East Germans were proud of their country and wanted to fix things for themselves, not have the Bundesrepublik do it for them.
    The problems started with the brain-drain that followed. Doctors, engineers and other qualified people left first for better wages in the West, leaving hospitals unmanned and essential services unserviced.
    Then the next down on the food chain left and the next and so on. Eventually, some towns had no bus service because the drivers had gone west. West German dole was better than East German salaries.
    By January 1990, reunification was not an choice, it was inevitable.
    Also, West Germany was filling up with East Germans sleeping in sports halls, train stations and other places looking for work. East Germans also had some really backward attitudes to life and work and were very racist. Like refusing to take orders from a Yugoslavian supervisor on his new job.
    Then, what to do with West Berlin? Is is East or West Germany?
    In the end Reunification was the only option. Nobody wanted it except Helmut Kohl but what else could you do?

  • 43. tim  |  November 13th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Does anybody really think there is a lesson in all of this?

  • 44. Jesus Christ  |  November 13th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    @captain america

    Was she a sex slave brought over by the Russian Jewish mafia?

    Is she even ethnic Russian given the fact that usually when reference is given to Russian it usually means Jewish like the “Russian” revolution and the “Russian” mafia.

    Did you go to a Serbian language class maybe you should ask them if they want to go to that paradise on earth they created in Kosovo?

    I went to one and asked a Serbian women if she wants to go back to US created Kosovo and she told me “No my heart belongs in New York. The local dentist Ginsburg has it was harvest by the KLA and sold to him”

    Seems to be US foreign policy democracy at home tyranny abroad with Islamic created and US lead sponsored terrorism across the world in Balkans, Crimea, Africa, Russia, Central Asia and China as well as their connection to western intelligence and international Jewish Russian mafia.

  • 45. Ibn McVeigh Lives On!  |  November 13th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    The U.S. should have sided with Germany during the war instead of Russia.

    Think of it; back then both the US & Germany were racist, homicidally-militaristic fanatics with a superiority complex. Both adore the image of a Jesus/Fuhrer.
    Both nations have diets centered on greasy weiners & fat-laden burgers and both nations were (are?) comprised mainly of fat fucks who can’t even reach their own asses in order to wipe properly after defecating.

  • 46. Simple  |  November 13th, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    The stunt Hungary pulled was…

    When Miklos Nemeth started tearing down the fences between Hungary and Austria. Suddenly, East Europeans started seeking a record amount of vacation visas to spend some time in Hungary. When Germany realized that Hungary was going to get away with what they were doing, there was no turning back.

  • 47. captain america  |  November 13th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    @the savior

    not as far as i know.

    slavic, i think.

    i don’t speak serbo-croatian, so a serbian language club would be boring.

    you don’t say.

    you don’t say.

  • 48. az  |  November 13th, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    It’s always the Jews, isn’t it? Who steal my cow? Jews! Who poison village well? Jews! Who take everybody money? Aahhhh!…

  • 49. Pádraig Ó Buth Chanain  |  November 14th, 2009 at 2:53 am

    @42: “The problems started with the brain-drain that followed.” Quite; which the wall was designed to, and did, prevent. Therefore, once the wall came down, Anschluß with the American Zone was indeed inevitable.

  • 50. Kalman Balatony  |  November 16th, 2009 at 11:56 am

    1) Former GDR is not “Eastern Germany” but Central Germany; Eastern Germany until WWI was Pomerania/Silesia and Eastern Prussia

    2) The reason why some “easterners” didn’t want to reunite from the DDR was because of the fake geopolitical patriotism. However, Stalin actually wanted a united Soviet Germany. Beria, after Stalin’s dead, also said that a united neutral Germany is in soviet interests.

    3) Even the flags were the same (aside from the silly typical socialist state emblem of the GDR) – having its roots in the 1848 revolution.

  • 51. Expat in BY  |  November 16th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    50. Kalman Balatony

    1. Before 1945, you would have been right. But if you’ve been in the areas of former eastern Germany that the Poles took over (in return for accepting the cession of their east to the Soviet Union), well, effectively, German culture in these areas is dead. There is a reason why Breslau is today Wroclaw, Stettin is today Szczecin, Posen is today Poznan, and Thorn is today Torun. (I’m not even going to bother about Koenigsburg/Kaliningrad.) In context of the article (and the 1990s), eastern Germany is the former DDR.

    Don’t really have any bones to pick over points 2 and 3. I’m sure that Russia wanted as much of Germany in its orbit as possible, but well, in the end, I guess they figured it advantageous to give their then Western Allies their own sectors in Berlin, as well as in the rest of Germany.

  • 52. z  |  November 16th, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    kalman balatony!!

    magyar vagy, barátocskám?!?! honfitársam ahh…

  • 53. finsalscollons  |  November 21st, 2009 at 8:33 am

    BS. I know it is easy to rewrite history to fit into our preconceived ideas, but the German longed for a reunification, long before the Berlin wall felt.

    I remember being teenager five years before that fall and, being European and in contact with German people, the thing I remember the most is the longing for one Germany by German people, a wish I considered a piped dream back then. It was the time when we believed Soviet Union would last all our lifetimes, at least.

    Fair enough, the lands belonging to West Germany and East Germany were divided except some 75 years from 1871 to 1945. But 75 years means that an entire worldview can change. People who saw Germany being divided in 1945 didn’t remember a divided Germany (except the really old ones). They have lived all their lives in one Germany, and this was the way it was for them.

    Furthermore, even before 1871, German nationalism already considered Germany as one nation. You seem to forget that nationalism was born in Germany and this ideology separated the concepts of State and nation. They defined the nation as a community bound by bonds of language, race and culture, that is, what German people called “folk”. One of the tenets of German nationalism is that every nation SHOULD have their own State. Hegel advocated for a German state.

    All nationalisms (we have some of them in my European country) carbon-copy the original German nationalism: from nation to state.

    So trying to depict reunification as something that could be avoided is false. The wish for one Germany was long. A divided Germany was only possible because of the use of the force. When the oppression by the Soviet bloc disappeared, a united Germany was inevitable.


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