lunedì 9 novembre 2009

Berlin 1989-2009: small and great lessons

The celebrations for the 20th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall are at their peak: many films and documents presented, many discussions and reflections about that great historical event.

There are many lessons history indicated from that event: the end of the great ideologies, the Michail Gorbacev's role, the end of the USSR, the role of Solidarnosc, etc. But in my opinion there are also many other lessons to learn, maybe less outstanding, but surely worth remembering.

I'm taking this opportunity to add some small personal considerations about this event even because I've got the opportunity to see directly what happened in those years before, during and after the end of the Berlin Wall.

I frequently travelled to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1988 to 1995 thanks to the activity of an international social organization (NGO) and I was able to see those events and to talk with many people in East Germany during those years.

I can remember how people screamed in the streets in Lipzig, Dresden or East Berlin the slogan "Wir sind das Volk" (We are the People!): I still remeber with great impression, the assault of the GDR citizens to the Czechoslovakian and Ungarian embassies to find shelter, or the long queues of Trabant cars near the Czechcoslovakina border...

What the meaning of this?. People was massively abandoning GDR prefering to live in other countries of the eastern block where relevant reforms were already adopted rather than to live in their home country governed by an immobile political class. People was asking to regain an active poltical role no longer bearing immobilism, corruption, hypocrisy of those politicians. Citizens, peacefully, deny their political class totally and systematically and peacefully underlined their complete distance from a political class unable to look at the future in which, as a whole, citizens refuse to recognize themselves.

I remeber also the great support the Evangelical Church provided to the opposition spontaneous groups foundamentally asking more justice, reforms, dignity and freedom rather than the end of the GDR.

"Wir sind das Volk!". This the great lesson we should learn from the 1989's events but in Italy we have a very limited memory for this kind of lessons and do not learn anything from our and others' history.

Yet the end of the Berlin Wall demonstrated how no political system can survive when indecency, injustice and stupidity reach unacceptable levels.

Without a violent revolutions, terrorism and bombs, people in East Germany, thanks only to the force of mistrust and dignity, showed what can happen when citizens take possessions of politics and decide to stop acting as puppets.

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