Translation_Kap12 - The Mental Wall How West and East...

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The Mental Wall How West and East Germans see themselves and their new fellow citizens Ulrich Becker From both sides of the formerly insurmountable border, the excavators and bulldozers moved in, in order to tear down the wall within a few hours. The fragments were transported away by the ton, and in the face of the tirelessness of this demolition work, the industrious work of the “wallpeckers”, who for weeks had hammered and hacked tiny peepholes, narrow chinks in the wall with hammer and chisel, seemed in an almost pitiful way senseless. With the demolition of the symbol of the German division by means of a grandiose gesture, the reality of the German division also appeared to be erased forever in a triumphant manner. With indubitable correctness, the wall was considered the symbol of the violent and absurd division of West and East Germany, of Western and Eastern Europe altogether. Nevertheless, the problematic and lengthy process of reunification finds in the stubborn detailed work (work on a small scale) of the “wallpeckers” a much more exact symbolic expression than in the smooth employment of excavators and bulldozers. These convey to the viewer/observer the deceptive impression that the “reunification” is a purely technical problem, which is quickly and effortlessly solved thanks to the economic and technical superiority of the West. On the other hand, the German-German division is proving to be more and more clearly also a psychological fact that requires from each individual exactly that persevering and confident detailed work of the “wallpeckers.” Each of us carries his small German-German wall with himself around invisibly. While the visible wall was irrevocably turned to ruins, the same wall continues to exist in our heads—an ugly construction, as formerly (just as before) terrifying and difficult to overcome, that continues to obstruct the view of the people in East and West and still distorts and handicaps our perception. “The mental wall” which is, from the East and also the West German perspective, above
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Translation_Kap12 - The Mental Wall How West and East...

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