Double Deutsch (Deutschland83)

 

Watching Deutschland 83 on Sunday nights has reawakened an interest in Germany. This classy Cold War thriller brings back memories of growing up in the 70s and 80s; the nagging nuclear threat, the big red button, the terrifyingly huge mushroom cloud, the impenetrable iron curtain, the us and them. (Guardian Review).

Is Germany still living with a split personality? Reading around it would seem the UK and US press believe a dichotomy of spirt still appears to pervade the Motherland.

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Divided politically left and right, West and East Germans lived side by side for 44 years.  The Berlin wall came down over 25 years ago and the administrative process of a unified Germany quickly began (some say, a swallowing of the GDR rather than a reconciliation). But the people have been much slower to come together. Western Germans think Eastern Germans are sour, mistrustful and anxious. Eastern Germans say western Germans are arrogant, materialistic, more bureaucratic and superficial.

Today this divide is echoed in many journo pieces – Germany is still divided/ Walk the line:

And we can see this split in it’s psyche too.  Germany appears;

Liberal (naked zones in Munich) but authoritative (don’t even try jay-walking).

Obdurate (ask Greece) but self-flagellating (historical shame lives on).

Western and European but a real home to many Eastern peoples; Turks, Koreans, Vietnamese…Syrians.

Welcoming to outsiders (refugees, at the moment) but discriminatory (xenophobic  even, race is a feature of the reactions to the New Year groping attacks).

Cheap (er to live than London – Brits in Berlin), but rich (winner of the Best Country in the World; “in part because of its strong economy, world influence and its focus on key global issues, such as the migrant crisis and eurozone unity.”)

The Ossies (East Germans)/Ostalgie (fond memories of the GDR) against the Wessies/Westalgie (nostalgia for a simpler, more German Germany).

And then of course there’s Mutti, Chancellor Angela Merkel.  The East German girl who grew up to lead a powerful Western nation (Person of the Year 2015 profile).

So divided but whole. Split but not apart.  I wonder if this division is as felt by Germans as it appears to us outside?

Perceived or real.  I would say Germany seems to have found an inner strength in it’s cultural differences.

Some sources I recommend for further pondering;

Read:
Berlin Now: The City After the Wall by Peter Schneider. Interesting on the many different people of Berlin and how history has shaped the city today
Listen:  
The House by the Lake, a story of Germany – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06sg2m9 –
(This is good – especially if you’re not too familiar with the history of Germany)
Watch:
Cabaret –  Entertainment in 1930s Berlin and an Oscar winning performance from Liza Minelli.
West –   A mother and son escape East Berlin
The Lives of Others –  Paranoia and fear under Communist rule
Deutchland 83 –  Set against the real events, culture wars and political realities of Germany in the 1980s, this epic drama series is a stylish coming-of-age story, framed within a suspenseful Cold War thriller. Now playing on C4
Berlin:
Berlin Walking Tour podcast – http://podcasts.ricksteves.com/walkingtours/berlin-city-walk.mp3  (Very American!)
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