Sitemap

Bojan Vranić

The Echo of the Berlin Wall

CorD Recommends

Ivana Radić Milosavljević, Assistant Professor in European Studies at the University of Belgrade - Faculty of Political Sciences

Not all Right-Wing Parties are Likeminded

The outcome of the European Parliament election...

Rajko Petrović, Research Associate at the Institute of European Studies

The EU Idea is Stronger than the Outcome of Less Important Elections

The electorate’s shift to the right won’t...

Nemanja Todorović Štiplija, Executive Director of the Centre for Contemporary Politics and Founder of the portal European Western Balkans

Centrist Parties Will Retain Their Positions

The right-wing political spectrum that’s on the...

Comment by Dejan Molnar

Reduced Turnover, Yet Higher Prices – Paradoxical or Not?

Price stagnation for apartments and houses (or...

Zoran Andjelković Ascends to Directorship of Serbian Post

Zoran Andjelković has been appointed as the new acting director of Pošta Srbije (Serbian Post), as announced in the...

Business Event Hosts Serbian Employment Service Presentation

In Belgrade on the 15th of May, the Slovenian Business Club, in collaboration with the National Employment Service of...

Golubac Marks Milestone with Inauguration of Eastern Serbia’s First Wind Farm

In a significant development for Serbia's renewable energy sector, Golubac celebrated the grand opening of the "Krivača" wind farm,...

Conference “Thinking Green & Living Clean” Held

On Wednesday, 15 May, the "Thinking Green & Living Clean" conference took place at the Sava Center, marking the...

CBS International and Cushman & Wakefield Expand Partnership into Austria

Global real estate consultancy Cushman & Wakefield has signed an exclusive partnership agreement with regional leader CBS International to...

With the end of the third decade since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is safe to make two claims: Firstly, enough time still hasn’t passed for those who participated in the November demonstrations in East Germany to forget the key reasons for their revolt; Secondly, sufficient time has passed for the Berlin Wall to become a political myth. We are faced with a confluence of the actual and the mythical regarding the ideas that drove the ‘Fall of the Wall’ 30 years ago.

To include more clarity here, we need to (de)brick the Wall as a symbol and as a political event. Symbolically, The Wall’s meaning was always related to liberties. Like every symbol, it is vague and open to interpretation. The impression is that the discontent of the citizens of East Germany peaked when the system refused to allow their freedom of movement, despite the fact that Hungary and Poland had already liberated their border policies. The openness to interpretation is clear – as the symbol was transformed in the subsequent decades into a neo-liberal driving force behind the creation of a free and open market for people, ideas and goods, thus providing the justification for the unipolar world of the “end of history”.

Politically, the ‘Fall’ was an anti-communist project. It marked a wave of democratisation sweeping across Eastern Europe, starting in Poland and ending in the former Yugoslavia. In East Germany, it was the desire for systemic change that came first, with the project of national unification coming only later. The slogan Wir sind das Volk! (We are the people) had two meanings: the negative, that we are not (only) the working class, and the positive, that we are all one people. The same phrase expressed the divergent goals of democratic freedom and ethnic unity. The interpretations of the slogan that later followed became a constitutional part of the Wall’s myth.

The memory of this political fact needs to be nurtured if Europe wants to preserve the symbolic meaning of the Fall and remove radical political interpretations that are taking primacy in the post- Berlin Wall legacy

The echo of the Fall resonated in different ways in the Western Balkans. The dissolution of communist Yugoslavia wasn’t initially seen as a project that would increase political liberties. This idea only became a key in each of the successor states, respectively, once the path to the EU was taken. The ethnic goal took primacy. Claiming that the Fall determined the ascent of ethnic identities would be far fetched, however.

As Gourevitch claimed, as authoritarian power declines, national identities emerge in their full form. Combined with the authoritarian heritage, the das Volk revolt was interpreted in the Western Balkans as a need to create a new kind of bond, one between strong national leaders and the people, thereby weakening unconsolidated institutions.

The case of the Western Balkans shows the validity of Mudde’s claim that the November events in East Germany created a political space for populism. Even in Germany, the sense of the unequal development of the former West and East parts, coupled with nostalgia for former times, led to the decline of leftist parties and the rise of radical right populism (AFD).

In Eastern Europe, discontent with the free market pushed voters into the protectionist hands of conservative populist leaders, with Poland and Hungary representing the prime examples. It is this feeling of resentment for the legacy of 1989 that is leading to deeper divisions across post-communist Europe, between the elites and the people, the capitalists and the workers, and between the people of the heartland and minorities and, most recently, immigrants.

What is forgotten in the post-communist states, is that it was the Fall of the Berlin Wall that made it possible for the people to freely express their resentment toward the political establishment. The passage of time has taken its toll. The memory of this political fact needs to be nurtured if Europe wants to preserve the symbolic meaning of the Fall and remove radical political interpretations that are taking primacy in the post-Berlin Wall legacy.

Related Articles

Scholz Champions Western Balkans’ Path to Membership

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Slovenia, advocated for quickening the EU accession for the Western Balkans, underlining the importance of reform-driven progress over geopolitical...

Serbia Poised to Drive Regional Growth, Says German Ambassador

Germany's Ambassador to Belgrade, Anke Konrad, has expressed optimism about Serbia's capacity for accelerated progress towards European Union membership, suggesting the nation could become...

India Set to Overtake Japan and Germany, Eyeing Third Spot in Global Economy by 2027

India is poised for a monumental economic leap, projected to surpass Japan and Germany to claim the title of the world's third-largest economy by...

Brewing Trouble: Climate Change Impacts Key Ingredient for Beer

The production of popular beverages like coffee, tea, and wine is becoming increasingly difficult on a warming planet. Recent studies focusing on how climate...

£425M JUPITER: Europe’s Top Supercomputer in Making

A consortium comprising of Germany's Partec and France's Atos has announced their collaboration to develop Europe's inaugural supercomputer, JUPITER, capable of performing a quadrillion...

Comment

Moving Mountains

Bilateral relations between Serbia and Germany are marked by a strong partnership, particularly in the economic sphere. Even geopolitical crises, regional conflicts or high...

H.E. Anke Konrad, Ambassador Of Germany To Serbia

Berlin and Belgrade Remain Close

With the reform of the German citizenship law, the country’s federal government intends to create a modern immigration law that reflects the diversity of...

Milan Grujić, President Of The German-Serbian Chamber Of Commerce

Soaring Bilateral Trade Attracts German Investors

The forecast for the bilateral trade exchange between Serbia and Germany until year’s end is exceptionally optimistic, primarily driven by two consecutive years of...