Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Ce qui touche le coeur se grave dans la memoire

This is a 'bonmot' of Voltaire that forms the refrain of the latest song - Voltaire-Chanson by Wolf Biermann, the East German singer who was forced into exile and deprived of his GDR citizenship in 1976, Dr B writes from Berlin. 'That which touches the heart is engraved in the memory.' The sentiment chimed with the reason for the concert, which took place during a two day conference preparing for the 20th anniversary of 1989 on, 'The peaceful revolution, the opposition and the Socialist Unity Party'. The conference has brought together academics, researchers and activists involved in the citizens' movements and political parties. The concert took place at the Langenbeck Virchow Haus. This was the first seat of the East German parliament and it was where Wilhelm Pieck was elected the first president of the GDR in 1949. It is also the place where the founding assembly of the New Forum citizens' movement took place during the peaceful revolution. Biermann wrote his latest song to mark the ceremony on 7 November at which he was presented (several decades late) with his graduation certificate from the Humboldt University. The Stasi had instructed the university back in GDR times not to give Biermann the certificate, but not to destroy it either. The conference itself is a reminder of the immense courage of the people who took to the streets in East Germany in 1989 to demand change, not knowing whether or not the government was planning a 'Chinese solution' and suppress the uprising by force, as well as the daily harrassment many of the activists had to ensure.


Jane said...

Thanks you for this Dr B - it's good to have a roving reporter out there!
How totally bizarre thoguh that Biermann should be singing Voltaire - very strange ...

Jane said...

At the Rotkäppchensekt event today Dirk Michael spoke about how on the 9th October in Leipzig all of the schools had been closed early, the hospitals were all on alert and the city was surrounded by police and the army waiting for the orders
The 40th anniversary celebrations in Berlin 2 days earlier had been pretty bloody - what would have happened if they had sent the troops in? Did they not do that simply because of the sheer numbers of demonstrators??