East German Chic


Leave it to the New York Times to get all misty-eyed and nostalgic for the Gulag:


The New York Times is still trying to refurbish the thuggish reputation of the Communist regime of East Germany, once part of the Eastern Bloc, Soviet-aligned countries of Eastern Europe.

The latest sad example came from reporter Thomas Rogers in Berlin, dedicated to the now-demolished Palast der Republik, former home of the (in name only) East German Parliament: “Symbol of Brutality or Social Spot? – Reflecting on East German’s Palast, a demolished colossus.” The online headline: “Symbol of a Brutal Regime? Or a Fun Place to Party?”

For many former East Germans, the decision to tear down one of the architectural showpieces of the German Democratic Republic, or G.D.R., was a form of historical vandalism.

Rogers was gentle with the monstrous East German regime.

The communist G.D.R. was a one-party state where many citizens were systematically monitored by intelligence services and people faced severe consequences if they spoke out against the regime.

But it still arouses nostalgia among some former citizens who fondly remember its gender egalitarianism and social safety net or admire its utopian aspirations.

A “social safety net” that utterly failed, and “utopian aspirations” toward a totalitarian monoculture? What’s to admire?

But criticism of the evils of the Communist regime are the fault of simple-minded and un-“nuanced” mindsets.

Elke Neumann, the exhibition’s curator, said that many Germans have an overly simplistic understanding of East Germany, and that she hoped the exhibition would help people form a more nuanced view of the G.D.R.

“Many people still think everything was black and white,” she said in an interview. “It makes sense for people to see what was actually there.”


A unique mixture of government building and leisure destination, it housed the (largely symbolic) Parliament of the G.D.R., as well as nearly a dozen venues for eating and drinking, a theater, a bowling alley, a post office and a youth club. It also boasted two auditoriums, including a hexagonal space with unique, diagonally retractable seating that allowed it to accommodate events ranging from state dinners to rock concerts.

More “yes, but look at the bright side” formulation that the Times wouldn’t dare do for a fascist regime, or Chile or Spain or Nazi Germany.

Go here to read the rest.  I suspect that Walter Duranty is looking up from the journalist pit in Hell and smiling as the New York Times burnishes up the image of yet another loathsome Leftist regime.


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  1. “For many former East Germans, the decision to tear down one of the architectural showpieces of the German Democratic Republic, or G.D.R., was a form of historical vandalism.”

    I thought the Times was in favor of historical vandalism.

  2. Some historical vandalism is apparently more equal than others Phillip! Besides, the New York Times knows its reader base: ever ready to condemn the Confederacy, dead for over 150 years, and ever weeping that their side did not prevail in the Cold War. The current socialism push is an attempt to somehow reverse that verdict of history.

  3. I read of “Ossi” nostalgia even in the 1990s. It’s understandable that older people who grew up with something (even a bad something that they got used to) might fear change. But what excuse have American leftists, who never knew what it was like to deal with chronic shortages, relentless Stasi surveillance and Trabants, for romanticizing a slave state – unless perhaps that they hope be the surveillance and not the surveilled?

  4. Tom, it’s like all those idiots wearing the Che! Guevara t-shirts. They have absolutely NO idea what he did and what he was capable of doing to people. It’s just a chic thing to do by the ignorant. You’ve got the perfect word for it: romanticizing. The Stasi, Che and ISIS. Different faces same M.O. : Terror.

  5. The author was born ca 1983. Professional class kid. Canadian. Homosexual (babbles about it a great deal in print). Worked as the ‘arts editor’ for Salon. Don’t know why the phrase ‘Guy Burgess’ keeps running through my head.

  6. The Times would probably agree that living under the G.D.R. is better than living under Donald Trump.

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