East German secret policeThe grey facade is as forbidding and the strip- lighting as harsh as ever. In the corner of a hallway the wood-effect, veneered cabins of the paternoster lift squeak past — one up, one down old east german police crossword in an endless hopeless loop. Kafka would feel right at home here. And with good bolero music The Stasi became a synonym, even a brand, for the insidious paranoia of the East German regime, typified by an old sign still hanging on the wall: For Roland Jahnthis is a dilemma.
Berlin Germany’s shifting memory minefield
The grey facade is as forbidding and the strip- lighting as harsh as ever. In the corner of a hallway the wood-effect, veneered cabins of the paternoster lift squeak past — one up, one down — in an endless hopeless loop. Kafka would feel right at home here. And with good reason: The Stasi became a synonym, even a brand, for the insidious paranoia of the East German regime, typified by an old sign still hanging on the wall: For Roland Jahn , this is a dilemma. Three years ago the year-old former East German dissident and campaigning journalist became the third custodian of the Stasi files, all million pages of them, which were opened to German citizens in The momentous decision to make them accessible was far from a given at the time, but Mr Jahn says it was a crucial element in dealing with the past.
Still, like many former East Germans, he worries that the Stasi Records Agency has become a victim of its own success, and that the Stasi is the default lens through which all life in the East German state is now viewed.
Our challenge is to see this as a whole. In his book-filled office in a former East Berlin brewery, the journalist-turned-publisher Christoph Links counts on his fingers the three periods to date in the public debate. Immediately after , he says, the shock over the Stasi revelations forced an onerous but necessary examination of state repression. He believes that this handed a welcome stick for West Germans to beat the east and its citizens.
In this period, many ex-easterners embraced any cult objects, or films such as Good Bye, Lenin! After these two extremes, Links believes the pendulum has come to rest in a calmer, more differentiated middle ground.
The appetite for a more nuanced debate is clear in the titles recently published by Links. From urban planning to modern literature, there is a new push to view as a historical whole the previously distinct histories of West and East Germany. For Roland Jahn, the time is finally ripe to explore the pin that held East Germany in place for four decades: In a new book on the subject, he ponders how East Germans constantly weighed up the costs and benefits of conforming against the costs and benefits of opposing the system.
The socialist state involved both affordable living and everyday surveillance; guaranteed employment and collectivisation. East Germans escaped public pressure to conform by escaping into private niches.
Older eastern German visitors to the exhibition are enthusiastic about a display that finally addresses the black, white and grey of their former lives. For year-old Irene Melzer , the exhibition brings back the doublethink and doublespeak of public and private life. For decades she was involved in church circles and determined to reform East Germany.
After unification, Melzer opened Lutheran schools in eastern Berlin and, like 17 million other East Germans, learned how to live in an entirely new system. As retreats ever deeper into history, Germany seems ready to break out of entrenched attitudes to the past. Eye-witnesses from 25 years ago have worked with students on an evening of stories, choreography and audience questions such as: Sitting in a pew, Benita Stroner , a demonstrator here in , relates how she was often followed home from the church by the Stasi, how her apartment was searched regularly, and how she later found listening devices there.
Sitting on the church altar, the local teenagers discuss everything they have learned from the project, including the fact that the decisive push in came from ordinary people like their parents and grandparents. Speed of the preparations shows US administration means business.
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