22 January 2008

East Germany, 1990: "No experiments!"

From History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s, by Timothy Garton Ash (Vintage, 1999), p. 16:
In [East Germany] at large, it seems to me, the real motto of the campaign—though no one, to my knowledge, actually used it—was Adenauer's slogan from the 1950s: "No Experiments!" They had experienced enough experiments to last several lifetimes: Hitler's experiments, Stalin's experiments, Ulbricht's and Honecker's. They'd had quite enough of being guinea pigs. There were certainly aspects of West German life and attitudes about which they had reservations. But so far as the economic, political, and legal system was concerned, West Germany's was the best one going. Arguably, it was the best system Germany had ever had. Now they wanted to have it as fast as possible: first the deutsche mark of course, but not just the deutsche mark, also the free press, the rule of law, local self-government, and federal democracy. In many ways, their priorities also recalled those of the 1950s in West Germany—starting with the passionate drive to rebuild for private happiness from the ruins. Understandably, the enthusiasm was greatest among the young, while the middle-aged were more worried about their abilities to adapt, and the old were concerned about the conversion rate and the values of their pensions. Indeed, the old might remark wearily, like the grandmother in Edgar Reitz's film Heimat, "Yet another new era!"

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