Category Archives: German Democratic Republic

Mental contortions needed to live in East Germany

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 08.35.23In the German Democratic Republic you required, writes Dalrymple, a mixture of

  • belief
  • cynicism
  • indifference
  • calculation
  • Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 08.38.36compromise
  • wilful ignorance
  • opportunism
  • bravery
  • effrontery

and the many shades and interactions between them.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 08.42.01The GDR régime’s

moral reprehensibility and degradation were obvious both from the outside and in retrospect: but from within and at the time, matters were often more equivocal.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 08.44.40

A chilling epigraph

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 07.58.21It is contained, Dalrymple writes, in Jürgen Thorwald’s The Dismissal: The Last Days of Ferdinand Sauerbruch (1960). It is by Josef Naas, director of the Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, and reads:

In the coming struggle of the proletariat, in the clash between socialism and capitalism, millions will lose their lives. In the face of this fact it is a trivial matter whether Sauerbruch kills a few dozen people on his operating table. We need the name of Sauerbruch.

Sauerbruch, Dalrymple explains, was

a brilliant but arrogant surgeon who began to dement and did not realise his powers were declining. He persisted in operating, though he started to kill patients. He did this with the complaisance of the authorities because, after the war, the East Germans were pleased, for reasons of propaganda, that he continued to work in Berlin.

Being a revolutionary in the south of France

Dutch edition, titled Rode liefde: een Oost-Duitse familiegeschiedenis

Dutch edition, under the title Rode liefde: een Oost-Duitse familiegeschiedenis

Dalrymple writes that the German Democratic Republic’s

moral reprehensibility and degradation

were obvious

both from the outside and in retrospect.

But

from within and at the time, matters were often more equivocal.

Perhaps the hardest words, Dalrymple points out, in Maxim Leo’s Haltet euer Herz bereit: Eine ostdeutsche Familiengeschichte (2011) are reserved for those in the West who admired the GDR. In 1987, Leo’s maternal grandfather,

The always impeccably tailored Jean-Baptiste Doumeng, who made a fortune flogging subsidised surplus produce to the people's democracies, owned a stable of thoroughbred horses, a Learjet and a 1,500-acre working farm in the south of France. His favourite Paris restaurant was Maxim's

Hero of socialist self-enrichment: the always impeccably tailored Jean-Baptiste Doumeng, who made a fortune flogging subsidised surplus to the people’s democracies, possessed among many other things a stable of thoroughbred horses, a Learjet and a 1,500-acre working farm in the south of France. His favourite Paris restaurant was Maxim’s

taking advantage of his political position, took the author on a trip to France, an enormous privilege. They visited political allies in France, mainly rich intellectuals. Having lunch in the luxurious villa in the south of France of one of those intellectuals, Leo wonders

how you can sit in a villa like that and rave about the GDR.

He then says,

I reflect that it’s a very pleasant business, being a revolutionary in the south of France.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 00.41.24Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 00.37.09

Unwashed reptilian Marxist abomination

Dalrymple on Brecht

Dalrymple on halitotic Brecht

Parliament of petty profiteers

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 12.25.36Again and again, writes Dalrymple, Britain’s political class

is revealed as ­fin­ancially ­unscrupulous and grasping, not missing the slightest opportunity to enrich itself at public expense, leading the electorate to the conclusion it is out exclusively for ­itself and cares not at all for the good of the country.

The danger is that

cynicism about the political system will­ result either in complete apathy and retreat into private life or support for some kind of authoritarianism.

The British parliament again and again

protects the financial interests of its members, acts as judge and jury of its own probity and administers slaps over the wrist for sharp practices, morally dubious or discreditable even where not outright illegal.

Escape from Down Under

Michelle Bachelet found herself in the capitalist hell that was 1970s Australia. Fortunately one of the people's democracies came to her aid. The communist paradise that was the German Democratic Republic gave her sanctuary for four marvellous years.

In 1975 Michelle Bachelet found herself in the capitalist inferno that was and is Australia. Fortunately one of the people’s democracies came to her aid. That workers’ paradise, the German Democratic Republic, was kind enough to grant her asylum. A refugee from prosperity, she lived in the German democracy until 1979 — some of the happiest years of her life