I don’t know, maybe it’s because of the new and uplifting research that’s come out about how 136 people were killed at the Berlin Wall while trying to escape from East Germany, or maybe it’s the anniversary of the wall’s construction coming up again pretty soon, but everybody in town seems to have gotten all ostaligic on us again. It’s as if I hear these days is good-natured, shoulder-patting reminiscing about the good old days “drüben” which were actually quite bad but, then again, on the other hand, were maybe good after all. Or at least that’s the impression an outsider like me could get listening to this stuff.

One recent quote from actress Katharine Thalbach caught my attention, for instance: “But I’m nevertheless happy that I participated in this experiment.” She was “from over there”, of course, and obviously, being here now, feels that German communism was actually a lark, a goofy little adolescent experiment, a pleasant thing.

Or how about “Visit Us – Or We’ll be Paying You a Visit”? That’s one of the mottos at Berlin’s new “Stasi Bar“. You guessed it, this is the kind of place where you can enjoy your beer while fiddling around with old listening devices and shredded documents and caged political dissidents and stuff like that, I guess. And you guessed it, it’s just down the road from the former Stasi headquarters itself (for those of you how don’t know it, the Stasi was East Germany’s dreaded secret police).

Now I enjoy a good laugh as much as the rest of you do, German friends, but I seriously doubt that you would be slapping your knees quiet as heartily if you were enjoying your beer at “Adolf’s Place”. That’s different, you say? Of course it is. And one of the reasons there’s a difference is that Germans are “blind on the left eye”, as the German saying goes. You can only do the Verharmlosung (trivializing) thing if the danger comes or came from the left. And, as you can see (think the Left party), it’s remained that way to this very day.

Anyway, the best quote I’ve found out of any of these articles so far is the one by a visitor to the Stasi Bar who probably had more than ostalgie on his mind: “The main thing is you can get drunk here.”

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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