Category Archives: BERND PULCH

Geheimdienst – Gründung der STASI – STASILAND

Am 8. Februar 1950 wurde in der DDR offiziell die Bildung eines Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit (MfS) beschlossen. Es war die Geburtsstunde der Stasi, die sich im Laufe der folgenden Jahre zu einem gewaltigen Geheimdienstapparat entwickelte

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Discussion – Günter Grass, Israel and the crime of poetry

Günter Grass identifies Israel as a threat to world peace in his poem, ‘What Must Be Said’ [GALLO/GETTY]

New York, NY – On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published Nobel laureate Günter Grass’ poem (the German original) that has created quite a stir not only in Germany, Israel and Iran, but also across the globe. As a result Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai has banned the Nobel laureate from entering Israel.

In this poem, Günter Grass breaks a long standing German taboo and publicly criticises Israel for aggressive warmongering against Iran, identifies the Jewish state as a threat to world peace, accuses “the West” of hypocrisy and denounces his own government for providing nuclear submarines to Israel:

… Because we – as Germans burdened enough –
Could be the suppliers to a crime
That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity
Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

The poem drew much appreciation from those opposing yet another pending war in the region by pointing to the big elephant in the room, but also widespread condemnation by Jewish and non-Jewish groups and public figures in Germany, igniting the irritable Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in effect corroborating Günter Grass’ own assessment that his silence so far had to do with the concern that he would be accused of anti-Semitism. He was accused of anti-Semitism.

But has the charge of anti-Semitism really silenced the critics of Israel – as Günter Grass suggests in this poem? Not really – or perhaps only so in Germany, for obvious reasons, but certainly not around the globe. The only people who are afraid of being called anti-Semites are the anti-Semites. Yes certain segments of pro-Israeli Zionists, by no means all, hurtle that accusation to silence their opponents. But by no stretch of the imagination has that charge silenced anyone but the anti-Semites – and they better remain silent.

In the European and by extension North American birthplace of anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is either perfectly alive and well, or transformed into Islamophobia, or camouflaged into Evangelical Zionism, or else abused by some Zionists to silence any opposition coming towards Israel – certainly to no avail.

To be sure, the condition in Germany is perhaps different – as indeed it should be. But by overcoming that false fear, Günter Grass can no longer be accused of anti-Semitism – and thus the significance of his poem is not in the straw man he constructs to shoot down (perhaps rhetorically, for after all, we are talking about a poem). It is somewhere else. 

Tomorrow may be too late

In the body of the poem itself, titled “What Must Be Said”, Günter Grass, 84, says that he risks the danger of being called an anti-Semite because:

Aged and with my last ink,
That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
The already fragile world peace?
Because it must be said
What even tomorrow may be too late to say…

Remaining silent at these dire circumstances is irresponsible and dangerous:

I am silent no longer
Because I am tired of the hypocrisy
Of the West…

Now that is good enough a reason to break the silence – and you need not invoke fear of being called an anti-Semite. Günter Grass expresses fear of a pending war that “could erase the Iranian people”. He pulls no punches as to the facts that we all know:

Yet why do I forbid myself
To name that other country
In which, for years, even if secretly,
There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand
But beyond control, because no testing is available?

He then points finger at his own country:

Now, though, because in my country
Which from time to time has sought and confronted
The very crime
That is without compare
In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also
With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares
A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,
Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence
Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,
But through fear of what may be conclusive,
I say what must be said.

Setting the dubious fear of being accused of anti-Semitism aside, Günter Grass provides ample reasons – European hypocrisy, German complacency, American barefaced double-standards, Ahmadinejad’s buffoonery and Israeli warmongering – for his poem to assume the global significance that it has. But the importance of the poem is not in stating the obvious – it is in revealing the repressed. 

European colonialism and Jewish Holocaust 

Given the history that culminated in the Jewish Holocaust, Jews around the globe, including Israel, have every right to get agitated with a prominent German public intellectual lecturing them about violence. But Zionism is chiefly responsible for having wasted the moral authority of the Jewish Holocaust – through what Norman Finkelstein has aptly called “the Holocaust Industry” – on establishing a racist apartheid state called “Israel” – a colonial settlement as a haven for the victims of a whole history of European anti-Semitism, on the broken back of a people who had nothing to do with that travesty.

With a leading German public intellectual openly criticising Israel, pointing to European hypocrisy, and blaming his own country for aiding and abetting in the aggressive militarisation of the Jewish state – a gushing wound is opened that implicates both Europe and the colonial settlement that in more than one sense is its own creation. In two specific terms, both as a haven for the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and as the legacy of European colonialism, Israel reflects back on its European pedigree. It is here that Grass’ poem reveals more than meets the eye.

For over 60 years, Palestinians have paid with their lives, liberties and homeland for a European crime with which they had absolutely nothing to do.

The Zionist project precedes the European Jewish Holocaust -that ghastly crime against humanity following the horrid history of European anti-Semitism expressed and manifested in systematic pogroms over many long and dark centuries. Palestine was colonised by the victims of European anti-Semitism – as a haven against Jewish persecution. That paradox remains at the heart of a Jewish state that cannot forget the truth of its own founding myth.

There is a link between the Jewish Holocaust and the history of European colonialism, of which Zionism (perhaps paradoxically, perhaps not) is a continued contemporary extension.

It was Aimé Césaire who in his Discourse sur le colonialisme/Discourse on Colonialism (1955) argued that the Jewish Holocaust was not an aberration in European history. Rather, Europeans actually perpetrated similar crimes against humanity on the colonised world at large.

With German atrocities during the Holocaust, Europeans tasted a concentrated dose of the structural violence they had perpetrated upon the world at large. Colonialism and the Holocaust were thus the two sides of the same coin: the aggressive transmutation of defenceless human beings into instruments of power – into disposable “things”. Long before the Jewish Holocaust, the world Europeans had conquered and colonised was the testing ground of that barbaric violence they had termed the “civilising mission of the white man”.

European guilt about the Holocaust is absolutely necessary and healthy – it is an ennobling guilt. It makes them better human beings, for them to remember what they did to European Jewry. But, and there is the rub, they are, with a supreme hypocrisy that Günter Grass notes in his poem, spending that guilt (when not redirecting it into Islamophobia) on sustaining a colonial settlement, an extension of their own colonial legacy, in supporting Israeli colonialism in the Arab and Muslim world – as a garrison state that further facilitates their renewed imperial interests in the region. Europeans are turning their legitimate guilt into an illegitimate instrument of their sustained imperial designs on the globe, from whom Americans then take their cues.

European logic of colonialism

Israel is a European colonial settlement, the last astonishingly barefaced remnant of European colonialism in a world that calls itself “postcolonial”.

The same people who are with perfect justification enraged by the foolish Ahmadinejad (when he denies the Holocaust) are evidently entirely undisturbed when their Prime Minister Golda Meir or their favourite presidential candidate Newt Gingrich denies the existence of Palestinians.

The daring imagination of Günter Grass’ poem – a heroically tragic act precisely because the poet is implicated in the moral outrage of his own poem – is significant precisely because it captures this German and by extension European logic/madness of colonial conquest and moral cannibalism. A German intellectual exposing the structural link between Zionism and colonialism marks the even more innate link between the Holocaust and colonialism – precisely at the moment of warning against the regional warmongering of Zionism as the post/colonial extension of European colonialism.

What Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reaction to Günter Grass’ poem, and many others like him, do not recognise is that precisely when they accuse the German poet of anti-Semitism they are in fact acknowledging the colonial provenance of the Jewish state. The harder they object to Günter Grass, the clearer becomes the fact that the Jewish state is the rhetorical articulation of the very logic of European global colonialism, of which the Jewish Holocaust, as Aimé Césaire rightly recognised, was a local overdose.

There is one, and only one, definitive resolution for that paradoxical consistency to come to an end: the one state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. It is only in that basic, simple, elegant, humane, non-violent, enduring and just resolution that the paradox of Zionism as colonialism, and the structural link between the Jewish Holocaust and European colonialism, can once and for all be resolved.

The fact and the inevitability of that solution, delivering both Israelis and Palestinians from their mutual (however asymmetrical) sufferings, has been staring the world in the eye from day one – and yet the belligerent politics of despair has caused an intentional blindness that prevents that simple vision. So, yes, Günter Grass is right – and in this revelation he could no longer possibly be an anti-Semite:

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,
Even more, all people, that in this
Region occupied by mania
Live cheek by jowl among enemies,
In the end also to help us.

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.  His forthcoming book, The Arab Spring:  The End of Postcolonialism (Zed, 2012) is scheduled for publication in May 2012. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Geheimsache Mauer – Ganzer Film

Es gab einmal die Vision einer perfekten Grenze – modern, unsichtbar, ohne Tote. Hightech statt Schuss-waffen, Sperrzaun und Beton. Ihre Erfinder nannten sie “Mauer 2000”. Doch diese Vision wurde nie in die Realität umgesetzt.

Am 13. August 2011 jährt sich zum 50. Mal der Tag, an dem mit der Teilung Berlins die Spaltung Deutschlands und Europas vollendet und für mehr als zweieinhalb Jahrzehnte zementiert wurde. Erzählt wird die Geschichte der Berliner Mauer aus einer neuen Perspektive, aus der Sicht derer, die sie geplant, erbaut und bewacht haben. Dabei offenbart das Doku-Drama einen tiefen Einblick hinter die Kulissen, in das “betonierte” Denken und berechnende Kalkül der Mauerstrategen, in ihre geheimen Pläne, die tödliche Grenze immer weiter zu perfektionieren.

Erzählt wird aber auch, wie ganz unterschiedliche Menschen die Mauer persönlich erlebten, wie sie für sie arbeiteten, in ihrem Schatten lebten und versuchten, sie zu überwinden. So berichtet zum ersten Mal ein ehemaliger DDR-Grenzer in diesem Zusammenhang über seine Gefühle in dem Moment, als er an der Mauer schoss. Erstmals berichtet ein Oberbefehls- haber der Grenztruppen über strategische Überlegungen und von den geheimen Sitzungen des Grenzkommandos. Im Gegensatz dazu erzählen Flüchtlinge, wie sie in gefährlichen Fluchtversuchen ihr Leben für die Freiheit jenseits der Grenze riskierten.

Der Fall X : Wie die DDR Westberlin erobern wollte – Ganzer Film

Die Führung der DDR hat bis kurz vor der Wiedervereinigung Pläne für eine Eroberung West-Berlins entwickelt und wiederholt in Manövern geübt. Zu diesem Schluss kommen die beiden Historiker und Filmemacher Hans Sparschuh und Rainer Burmeister in ihrer spannenden Dokumentation. Die Historiker Hans Sparschuh und Rainer Burmeister liefern zahlreiche Beweise wie Karten und Aktennotizen, eine sogar von Erich Mielke. Die DDR hat Pläne entwickelt, West-Berlin zu erobern. Nach spätestens drei Tagen sollte alles vorbei sein. Binnen weniger Stunden sollte die zahlenmässig haushoch überlegene NVA die Truppen der Alliierten überrennen. Mitarbeiter der Staatssicherheit sollten dann damit beginnen, hochrangige West-Berliner Polizeibeamte, Politiker, Journalisten und Beamte zu verhaften und in Lagern festsetzen. Der Verhaftungslisten waren bereits getippt. Die DDR-Führung plante, nach drei Tagen die Eroberung abzuschliessen, um dem Westen möglichst wenig Zeit zur Reaktion zu geben. Die im Osten verhasste D-Mark sollte anschliessend abgeschafft und durch eine Kriegswährung ersetzt werden. Ein weitverbreitetes Relikt aus der DDR-Ära: Plattenbauten. Die aus Betonfertigteilen hergestellten Häuser sollten die Wohnungsknappheit nach dem Krieg bekämpfen. Zur Zeit ihrer Entstehung waren sie begehrt, da die Wohnungen im Gegensatz zu Altbauwohnungen mit fliessendem warmen und kaltem Wasser und Zentralheizung ausgestattet waren. Der Palast der Republik beherbergte die Volkskammer der DDR und wurde als Kulturhaus genutzt. Hier traten nationale und internationale Künstler wie Udo Lindenberg, Harry Belafonte, Mireille Mathieu oder Katja Ebstein auf. Das asbestverseuchte Gebäude wurde von Februar 2006 bis Dezember 2008 schrittweise abgerissen. Der Berliner Fernsehturm ist mit 368 Metern das höchste Bauwerk Deutschlands. Mit dem Bau wurde 1965 begonnen. Wenn die Sonne die Kugel der Blechprismen aus rostfreiem Stahl anstrahlt, erscheint eine Reflexion in Form eines Kreuzes. In Anspielung auf die atheistische Grundeinstellung der sozialistischen Regierung bezeichneten Berliner dieses leuchtende Kreuz als “Rache des Papstes”. In ihrer Dokumentation liefern die Historiker umfassende Belege für ihre Thesen. An knapp 60 Stellen in der Stadt wollten Soldaten die Mauer durchbrechen. Aus Kartenmaterial und Aktennotizen geht hervor, dass zuerst alle Brücken der Stadt besetzt werden sollten. Damit wollte die DDR-Spitze verhindern, dass sich die alliierten Besatzer zu einem Verband vereinigen konnten. Dann sollten die Flughäfen der Stadt erobert und besetzt werden, um West-Berlin dauerhaft zu isolieren. Die Pläne wurden nach Recherchen der Historiker ab dem Jahr 1969 konkret. Auch eine Notiz von Erich Mielke soll dies beweisen. In zahlreichen Manövern sei der Überfall immer wieder geübt worden. Noch im Jahr 1988 gab es den Recherchen zufolge ein grosses Manöver in Magdeburg, bei dem die Eroberung einer Stadt trainiert wurde.

STASILAND GERMANY – Full Movie

Everyone knows about the Nazis camps of Auschwitz and Dachau. But few are aware of the systemic oppression that went on under the Stasis. Now some ex-Stasis agents are trying to re-write history.

“I won’t apologise for anything. I can only apologise for not having worked more efficiently”, states former Stasi spy Peter Wolter. He maintains that the thousands of people tortured and imprisoned were; “quite rightly punished”. Along with other ex-agents, Wolter is campaigning to have a museum documenting the suffering of prisoners in Stasi prisons closed. As Anna Funder, author of ‘Stasiland’ states; “these were people writing doctoral theses on how to destroy a soul”. Now thousands of ordinary Germans who had their lives destroyed by the Stasis fear their suffering will be negated.

Editorial – The New (Conservative) Liberalism by Charles Davis

Charles Davis, on liberalism in America, and how it fails to provide systemic solutions to the problems faced in an increasingly conservative world. Via Al Jazeera:

Once upon a time — say, three years ago — your average Democrat appeared to care about issues of war and peace. When the man dropping the bombs spoke with an affected Texas twang, the moral and fiscal costs of empire were the subject of numerous protests and earnest panel discussions, the issue not just a banal matter of policy upon which reasonable people could disagree, but a matter of the nation’s very soul.

Then the guy in the White House changed.

Now, if the Democratic rank and file haven’t necessarily learned to love the bomb – though many certainly have — they have at least learned to stop worrying about it. Barack Obama may have dramatically expanded the war in Afghanistan, launched twice as many drone strikes in Pakistan as his predecessor and dropped women-and-children killing cluster bombs in Yemen, but peruse a liberal magazine or blog and you’re more likely to find a strongly worded denunciation of Rush Limbaugh than the president. War isn’t over, but one could be forgiven for thinking that it is.

Given the lamentable state of liberal affairs, Drift, a new book from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, is refreshing. Most left-of-centre pundits long ago relegated the issue of killing poor foreigners in unjustifiable wars of aggression to the status of a niche concern, somewhere between Mitt Romney’s family dog and the search results for “Santorum” in terms of national importance. So in that sense, it’s nice to see a prominent progressive at least trying to grapple with the evils of militarism and rise of the US empire. It’s just a shame the book isn’t very good…

 

Die Akte Gysi – Ganzer Film

“Die Akte Gysi” zeigt, wie aus einem willigen Helfer des DDR-Systems ein populärer, gesamtdeutscher Politiker wurde. Und wie er trotz aller Stasi-Vorwürfe immer noch als Stimme der Benachteiligten und Unterdrückten hofiert wird.

Gregor Gysi kennen alle. Denn er spielt viele Rollen: als charismatischer Politiker, als Stimme der Linkspartei und als gern gesehener Talkshow-Gast, egal zu welchem Thema. Seine Markenzeichen: emotionale Empörung, populistische Parolen. Die mediale und politische Omnipräsenz provoziert aber immer wieder eine Frage: Gibt es einen anderen Gysi, einen, der früher mit der DDR-Stasi gekungelt hat? Er bestreitet das energisch, seine Anwälte versorgen allzu wissbegierige Journalisten mit entsprechenden Schriftsätzen und Gerichtsprozessen.

“Die Akte Gysi” zeigt, wie aus einem willigen Helfer des DDR-Systems ein populärer, gesamtdeutscher Politiker wurde. Und wie er trotz aller Stasi-Vorwürfe immer noch als Stimme der Benachteiligten und Unterdrückten hofiert wird. Der Film von Hans-Jürgen Börner und Silke König zeigt die Biographie eines Mannes im Spannungsfeld von inszenierten Auftritten und bedrückenden Stasi-Akten. Gregor Gysis Karriere begann, fernab von Fernsehkameras, als Rechtsanwalt in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. Gysi wuchs als Funktionärskind eines prominenten Vaters, des Botschafters und Staatssekretärs für Kirchenfragen, Klaus Gysi, auf. Sohn Gregor war der jüngste Rechtsanwalt der Republik. Und hatte viele prominente Mandanten wie Rudolf Bahro und Robert Havemann.

Er hatte beste Kontakte ins ZK der SED und auch zur Staatssicherheit. Original-Akten, die über das Wirken des Rechtsanwalts Gysi Auskunft geben könnten, wurden nach der Wende offenbar größtenteils vernichtet. Aber in den Akten seiner ehemaligen Mandanten finden sich die Kopien von Stasi-Berichten. Die Dokumentation liefert den politischen und biographischen Zusammenhang, befragt ehemalige Mandanten und präsentiert Akten über das Wirken des Gregor Gysi. Der Film berichtet u. a. über die Tragödie eines Vaters, dessen Sohn von der Stasi ermordet wurde. Vom Schicksal der Bürgerrechtlerin Vera Lengsfeld, ihren quälenden Stunden in Untersuchungshaft. Vom Schriftsteller Lutz Rathenow, dessen Unterhaltung auf einem Empfang belauscht wurden. Und von dem Berliner Künstler Thomas Klingenstein, dessen Gesprächsinhalte einer Autofahrt bei der Stasi landeten. Viele Schicksale, aber immer eine Hauptperson: Gregor Gysi. Viele Opfer, die vor der Kamera reden. Und einer, der lieber schweigt: Gregor Gysi.
Wo bitte ist unser”Rechtsstaat”???