Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A hot potato for some of those who worked for civil rights in East Germany

In this international year of the potato it seemed fitting that at ecumenical tea-time today I was invited to drink a small glass of Rotkäppchensekt to celebrate the award of the Heisse Kartoffel (hot potato) to Dirk-Michael Grötzsch who works with the Lutheran World Federation in the office for communication services.
The "hot potato" is an award first made in 1993 to people who have had a particular impact on economic and social affairs in "Mitteldeutschland" and it's given by the Mitteldeutsche Presseclub zu Leipzig e. V. The Sentin.el press agency organized the prize giving. Each recipient receives a small version of the sculpture by Jörn Konrad which shows a hand wounded by a hot potato but still holding on to the hot potato despite being wounded by it.
This year the award was made to a group of people who played important roles in the peaceful autumn revolution of 1989 in the former GDR (Mitteldeutschland is mainly located in the former GDR). Dirk-Michael was a spokesperson for Neues Forum, one of the new political parties founded as part of the protests and movements that led to the Berlin wall coming down.
As we drank our Sekt he told us how some of the others in the group who already had children had made arrangements for adoption of their children in case anything should happen to them because of their political activities. Civil courage is something that builds up civil society but it comes at great personal cost sometimes. Working for human and political rights isn't easy work.
Ah yes and Rotkäppchensekt means little red riding hood champagne. And of course the little red riding hood forest is also in Mitteldeutschland.