Category Archives: Allgemein

Thanks to all of you :-)

Dear participants!

We hope that you all had a pleasant travelling back home!

We thank you a lot for your participation and we are happy that we had the pleasure to have you all here in Berlin!

We are happy to find your last posts on this blog and we invite you to use this tool for further information and thoughts.

Best wishes and hoping to see you again in future,

the solar-team

Day in West Berlin

As usually our day started in the green room. The activity was dedicated to Romania and deconstructing of identities. I liked open discussion after the method and the way in how the women who gave the lecture communicated with auditory. For example, when we were on the Houses of democracy, I didn’t liked the way in which the guide communicated with us because of his posture and body language ( almost all the time he kept his hands crossed on his chest). Later we visited the West Berlin for the first time. We had the guided tour, I think it was great but it took too much time because in the end of the tour people were distracted. But it was worth to visit all the places because guide told us about the objects, gave us interesting details, showed pictures from West Berlin and her communication with us wasn’t constrained. It was really exciting method because we can not only see some details, buildings in photos but also to compare the way in which that was changed or not changed till nowadays.

Hohenschönhausen: the Cold Walls of the Cold War

In my life I’ve visited only two prisons: 1st was few years ago, a present juvenile portuguese prison and the 2nd, few days ago, a former political prison from Berlin. Both visits reveled me important aspects, but now I will reffer more to the last one.
When I found out that we will visit a former Stazi prison, from GDR, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In fact, I didn’t have any expectations. I was just there, after a long (and nice) walk, for an official guided tour of the place.
What I would like to talk about is something that was totally present in my mind during the tour, which I think it’s an important point of reflection.

I am from Romania and I was 6 when the communist regime fell. Almost all my memories about that period are from books, collective – oral stories, TV shows or individual narratives. On the specific topic of the political imprisoning I mainly know stories from books. In Romanian literature there are lots of memorials of the attrocities that happend during the communist regime, inside these abominable places. When I was 16 I remember I was crying while reading a book of a former political prisoner and I couldn’t believe that people can be so cruel to each other and that those horrible horrible thigs were happening so close to me, in the very palpable, touchable ground of Romania, not so many years ago in the century I was born.

During the trip through Hohenschönhausen prison I had this very specific thought that “In Romania was way worse” and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Random facts and tortures from the books and stories I’ve heard all my life were appearing in my mind over and over again. You may say that is natural, lot of us were thinking about this – in our group discussion after the visit – I could observe that not only some of my colegues from Romania were thinking at the same, but also colegues from other places, as, for exemple, Lithuania.
Though, I can understand our reactions, one thing came in my mind after our reflection time, and that is that we should not compare sufferings.
From my point of view this is kind of, not only disrespectful, but dangerous also. People suffered more than we can imagine and I think that just one day without freedom can be devastating for a lifetime. We don’t talk anymore about freedom as a concept, but about brute reality, humiliation, torture, phisical and psychological pain. Sure we can see the differences between, but comparing the sufferences, when we are in a place where there was so much of it and taking it so easily after we just went there, for me it’s like saying that a very awfull ilness is better than another horrible ilness, after both pacients died.
So, my proposal is simple: whenever we encounter this kind of situations, just take some time of real and empathic reflection, and understand the mutuality and the “universality” of suffering, in this case of imprisoning, in other cases of war, social bias and so on. This humanistic perspective is important for me not only in the metter of remembrance approaches, but also for the present and the days to come.

In Prison

I had heard mainly negative things about the way the Gedenkstätte Stasi-Gefängnis Hohenschönhausen dealt with history and actors opposing their strictly anti-communist way of remembrance. Still, I was interested in seeing the place myself when we went, thought I am not sure what I expected, really. After all, a prison without inmates is not much different from any other abandonded concrete building – unless it contains some “special” rooms as well, which, to be honest, I’d rather not see.

Hohenschönhausen turned out to be just that. A bleak, intimidating wall of concrete, a big gate and some buildings without any special traits. From the tour, which was not given by a former inmate but by an energetic young historian, many details could be learned: what type of food was served, how prisoners had to behave day and night,  privileges and punishments… Historical background was not touched upon too much, and when the conversation with the guide turned to comparisons of this particular prisons with other ones in different times and places it became tangible that there is really not that much to learn in Hohenschönhausen, except that the GDR wasn’t exactly nice to the people they incarcerated (but then again, where have prisons ever been nice), and that arrests were often made at random and prisoners rarely had the chance to get a proper trial and legal advice (again, not exactly unique in history and in the world).

What bothered me about the presentation was not so much the perceived waste of time (I would never recommend a visit to the place to anyone), because in our context it still made some sense to see the prison, but the lack of questioning in the presentation. We, like all the other groups who go to this place, got a complete story presented, without grey areas, open questions, or space for controversy. Not a very good way to deal with historical places and events, in my opinion. Especially because in connection to the space around the prison Hohenschönhausen has the potential to open up new perspectives on the organization and functioning of the Stasi, without demonization and ideological prejudice.

on rememberance: the enigmatic narratives of history

 

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This is part of a larger story. But firstly, this is a foreward of an evolving story of (my)self.

I want to say that maybe I will not write a post everyday (obviously, this is my first lines in 4 days). Not because I don’t  like the idea, but basically because all we consider, learn, discuss,  here, on the seminar about “Rememberance of The European East West Conflict: Pedagocical Approaches for dealing with history and its current consequences” are very intense topics. I just felt during these first 3 days that I need more time of reflection than I was thinking at the beggining and that “the historical/ cultural iceberg” it’s showing me more and more its hights and also its depths.

The process of discovering that non-linear, anti-hegemonic discourses are vital for our understanding of the past and the complex socio-political reality around us,  had started and shall be continued…

Trouble making dilemmas: taking part at the East-West seminar

Like many human beings, I like confort: that of a warm pillow, of good food and of familiar ideas, which I can easily handle. That’s why on a winter day, I choose to stay inside, at warmth, instead of going out in the cold, and that’s also why I rarely get out of my intellectual confort zone, preferring to keep my world view as it is.

But sometimes you need to get out in the cold and to confront ideas which seem rather trouble making, and learn something, if possible. Taking part at the Training “Remembrance of the European East-West conflict” in Berlin can be a good opportunity of shaking some old ideas and making place for a few dilemmas about how we remember the history, what do we remember and how this relates to the present.

So just like the picture says, Achtung, Sie verlassen jetzt Ihre Komfortzone. Hopefully.

 

European Walls

Contemporaneous with the 25th anniversery of the fall of the German Wall, a group of activist and artisits is organizing the first European Falling of the Walls:

Celebrating the “reunification” of Germany as a new era while at the same time, the border-politics of Europe are killing thousands of people, is absurd.

Please share, discuss, and become active!

http://www.politicalbeauty.de/Zentrum_fur_Politische_Schonheit.html
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/erster-europaischer-mauerfall
https://www.facebook.com/politische.schoenheit

 

Visiting The Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial

The first day of the remembrance has arrived. It was a great honour to visit the former political prisoner prison in Berlin. I could feel the atmosphere full of pain that the prisoners have experienced years ago. We have several prisons such as Hohenschönhausen in Lithuania and it was very valuable experience to compare them.  Although Soviet regime has affected all of us,  the different countries have experienced the regime differently. In my opinion the eastern countries such as  Romania and Lithuania felt it harsher. Nowadays it is important not to suffer from any form of violence again so combining pain from the past and ideas from now would be a great method to create peaceful and united Europe.

Hohenschönhausen: a memorial place

Our first day of training starts with the visit of Hohenshönhausen, the most important GDR Stasi prison and, now, a fundamental place of remembrance and memory. In 1994 the build becomes a museum and, since  then, with many guides and eyewitness, is visited everyday by a lot of people.  I was impressed by the way everything has been museum-exhibited, as it were frozen in time: cells, interrogation rooms, corridors.Only a cafe and few information image

board bring us back to reality. Also the private memory of the witnesses, I think, is usefull to drive visitor in a sort of estrangement. Visitors feel deeply touched and they don’t want forget the conditions in which the detainees were and the deep injustices that were the basis for arrests and convictions.  This is the reason, in my opinion,  of museification of a place like this: touch the reality of what has been and remember.

 

Impression

When I had a first glance to the GDR Stasi Prison, I felt shiver running through my body. And when I saw living conditions inside, that feeling didn’t go away. First of all, prisoners most often were innocent people. Moreover, according to the guide, prisoners should follow ridiculous rules, for example, sitting without any leaning. Finally, prisoners didn’t have connection with the outside world because of thick glass windows. That increased impression that the prisoners were only the victims of the regime in GDR.