Every Sunday, Heribert Prantl, columnist and author of the SZ, deals with a topic that will be relevant in the coming week – and sometimes beyond. Here you can also order “Prantls Blick” as a weekly newsletter – exclusively with his personal reading recommendations.
How long is the new new? It depends on. The new newspaper is old the next day. It takes a little longer with the new sweater. With the new iPhone too. But the new apartment and the new house are still new even after the iPhone is old again. And an industrial plant is new until it is written off for tax purposes. Perhaps that is one reason why the new federal states are still called new federal states: Because these federal states are not written off, but are still being adapted to the west of the Federal Republic within the framework of the “Aufbau Ost” program.
Are the new federal states still new?
In any case: Hardly anything else in the world has been new for as long as the new federal states. The children who were born when these new federal states became the new federal states are now thirty years old. They are no longer new people, just young people. The reunified Germany will celebrate its birthday next Saturday – it will be thirty years old. And there will still be talk of the new federal states at the celebrations and in the speeches. But maybe that’s simply because you can’t think of a better name. As long as that is the case, the states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia will remain the five new federal states. Perhaps the Federal Agency for Civic Education should start a competition to find a better name. Otherwise the new federal states are still called that on their fiftieth and hundredth birthday.
New is usually a word that has music in it. New is usually good, new is modern, new is better than old. What is new does not have to be justified. It’s justified because it’s new. As I said: new is good; new is sustainable; old is questionable, new is in demand. The old has a question mark, the new an exclamation mark: The new woman! The new man! The new structure! The new image! The new software! The new virtues! The new is considered modern, fit, fresh, unusual, unheard of, up-to-date and just in time. What is interesting about the designation “new federal states” is therefore that there is also something deficient in connection with “new”, at least in the west of the republic – something has to be developed there, something has to be built up.
Horst Dieter Schlosser, literary scholar, initiator and spokesman for the “Unwort des Jahres” campaign, believes that the main reason for the tenacity of the word “new federal states” is our convenience: “It’s like the sunrise. We still call it that, although since It has long been clear that the earth does not revolve around the sun. “
A political harvest festival
Such thoughts come to me next Saturday, which is not a normal Saturday. It’s a holiday; a black-red-gold festival day, a political harvest festival: on October 3rd, Germany pauses and celebrates thirty years of German unity.
October 3: The date of this holiday has been rumored because it is a technical date, not an emotional one. That’s also true: October 3rd, 1990 was the day of the legal execution of what had already been decided; On this day in 1990, the GDR’s accession to the Basic Law, approved by the People’s Chamber, became legally effective. The federal flag was hoisted in front of the Reichstag, the national anthem was played, fireworks were set off; Speeches were given in the Philharmonie. October 3, 1990 was a day of harvesting what the people had sown a year earlier, in October 1989.
Wrong date: The actual festival day is not October 3rd, but October 9th
On October 3, we actually celebrate October 9: the third of October has its roots, its original reason, on October 9, 1989, in the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig. The SED officials had expected a few thousand demonstrators at the time. There were seventy thousand; Civil rights activist Friedrich Schorlemmer recalls that they did not know that they would be seventy thousand, otherwise it would have been three hundred thousand. It was their courage that started it all: every participant had to reckon with the worst. In June 1989, Erich Honecker had forced the GDR People’s Chamber to applaud the Chinese party leadership because they had massacred their opposition on the “Square of Heavenly Peace”. But October 9th in the GDR remained peaceful; so more, even larger, demonstrations followed; demonstrations took place in 200 locations. The destabilization of the regime gained momentum.
Appropriation of the peaceful revolution by the West German elite
The West Germans did not perceive it all so intensely because they were not there, because the images of the Monday demonstrations in the West were not as powerful as those of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But none of this was achieved by West Germans, that was not yet Helmut Kohl’s success. October 9, 1989, the storming of the German Bastille, was an East German affair, not directed and directed from the West. This direction and direction came later, when the unit was organized the way it was organized – by contract and accession. This is what the 3 October stands for, for the organization, for the guidance and direction of German unity; This October 3rd date also stands for the appropriation of the revolution by the West German elite. But the core of October 3, 1990 remains October 9, 1989. It is the day of the German miracle.
From revolutionary magic drink to national brew
Thirty years of revolutionary history: This is a story that begins with the prayers for peace in Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche and which hopefully does not end with the “We-are-the-people” shouts from Pegida and the AfD. The revolutionary magic drink from 1989/1990 turned into a völkisch brew in 2020, with racism as a flavor note. There is a lot of sales, the AfD praises it. The perversion of revolutionary change into a reactionary trade is to be lamented, but one that attracts quite a few citizens.
German moon landings
The German miracle: there were few days like this in German history. There is the democratic revolution of 1848 and there is the democratic revolution of 1989 – I like to refer to them as the German moon landings. They were spectacular achievements that were hardly made useful for democracy. The unique thing about the revolution of 1989 was this: some did not hang anyone, others did not shoot. And Egon Krenz, Honecker’s successor, did not fulfill the fears placed in him. That too should be honored on Unity Day. One can also include in the celebrations those who, for whatever reason, did not shoot. There has been too many shooting in Germany. Let us be pleased that this did not happen on the turning point in recent German history.
Let’s look forward to the thirtieth birthday of the reunified Germany. Let’s hope for a united Europe.