25 November 2009

What's happening in Czechoslovakia and Romania ..?

Jane's diary
Dateline: Saturday 25 November 1989
Time is racing past. Our ten days module at the Predigerseminar is over. It began with everyone piling into our room and swapping stories of crossing the border or wall. The best story was the friend of one of the students who came out of the Berliner Ensemble bar fairly drunk and heard that the borders were open and decided to go to the Wall to argue with people and get them to go back, only to find himself swept along with everyone else and so completely gobsmacked that he spent most of the weekend pi**ed. For Berliners the open border adds a dimension which should always have been there but wasn't. As Karsten says, every says "here" but no one seems to know where "here" is. East or West? or East and West.
For our friends in West Berlin where he is a West German and she an East German the whole thing has been completely exhausting as well as totally exhilarating. Their flat was full of visitors from the East, all of us piled in for that first night - completely crazy.

Meanwhile events in Czechoslovakia have looked very ominous over the past 10 days but last night the central committee resigned en bloc and today half a million demonstrators in Prague. Dubcek spoke and was introduced as the county's future president - 20 years too late. Vaclav Havel will speak on television tonight, uncensored. It's all utterly amazing and wonderful, so sad and tragic that state brutality preceeded it to such an extent. Dissidents are being released and a coalition government proposed.

Back here Krenz is saying that free elections are not likely until the end of next year. I think it would be crazy to have parliamentary elections next May, much better to re-run the local elections of this year so that at least the new groups get experience at the municipal level.

Events in Romania seem still to be well behind those elesewhere in the Eastern bloc. It's awful to think of the culture that has been wiped out and this will continue if change doesn't come. All we can do is pray and hope the change will spread there too in this November of revolution and "Wende". Back here one of the students discovered swastikas on his wall in Görlitz and now that the press is "free" more and more reports of Poles being stopped at the border smuggling food. There's a real hatred of Russians and Poles developing here. We discussed this as we prepare to go to Poland in January. In a fortnight at a meeting with our counterparts from West Germany we will talk about Neo-Nazi tendencies in young people.


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