7 June 2009

Molecular movements

Thanks to sightandsound.com for this article by Karl Schlögel on the "molecular movements that brought down the Berlin Wall". Schlögel's article is about the black marketeers at Bahnhof Zoo, who arrived in West Berlin from Moscow thanks to the special political jurisdiction of this allied island within the GDR, a rehearsal for a new mobility:
First came the Moscow students from the Communist client states - black Africans, Mozambicans, Cubans - and later the Russians themselves, including the "new Russians" with their cafes, real estate, gambling houses, and fashion shops ... They crossed the Wall before it fell. They drove past the border officials when they were still heavily armed and patrolling the area from the Reichstag ruins to the Friedrichstraße station, unaware that the Wall was disintegrating before their eyes. To this day, there is no memorial for the anonymous black marketeers of Patrice Lumumba University at the Zoological Garden railway station.
This phenomenon, writes Schölgel, is an example of a "molecular" event:
Every historical second is based on infinite premises. There is no historical zero point. As true as it is that there are points of no return, it is also true that every point of no return has its own history, and a long process of accretion precedes every caesura. There are no jumps without a run-up and no collapses come out of the blue; that 1989 came for many "out of the blue" speaks only to the limited horizons, quality of vision, sensitivities or insensitivities of people of that time. Moments of success aren't brought about by magic, even if the abundance of puzzling and unexplained aspects make us inclined to speak of a miracle ... The grand moments with which history usually preoccupies itself are inconceivable without the molecular events that make them possible. And the Europeans who make a career out of standing and speaking for Europe are nothing at all without the unknown Europeans whose stories are never told.


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