Everything for the welfare of the people
The opinion piece translated below appeared in Die Welt on 27th October, 2015. Not canvassed in the article, is the possibility that Frau Merkel’s Wir schaffen das (we can manage it), followed up, incredibly, by Es gibt keine Obergrenze (there is no upper limit) provided a handy humanitarian fig-leaf to cover her powerlessness. It is routinely stated that she ‘opened Germany’s—and therefore Europe’s—borders’ to the shock-wave of refugees. In reality, the borders were already open, and by September she was almost certainly powerless to close them. Only an EU naval blockade of the Turkish coast—not to mention the Libyan—would have had any effect: a political impossibility, then as now. Add to that her miscalculation that the EU member states would dutifully ‘pull their respective weight’ in the matter of resettlement, and you have a catastrophe in which Germany is flailing about for a solution that doesn’t exist.
*Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic) —the former East Germany.
The Late Revenge of the German Democratic Republic on Angela Merkel
The title would have made more sense, and been truer to the author’s intention, had it read, “The Late Revenge of the GDR on the Bundesrepublik (BRD)”— Ed.
❝ “Wir schaffen das!”, sagte die Bundeskanzlerin gebetsmühlenartig… “We can manage it!” said Angela Merkel, as if repeating a prayer. An almost identical expression had been in circulation before —Das schaffen wir! — but in those days, the powerful had little use for it.
On the occasion of the tenth Party Congress of the SED**, in November 1981, the party leadership commissioned ten posters suitably dignifying the role of the SED in the building of socialism in the first German workers’ and peasants’ state. On one of the posters, two hands are powerfully grasping each other. The legend reads, “Our thanks go to you, Our Party!” On another, a schoolgirl holds up an exercise book to an onlooker: in it she has written, “I do my best, and so do Daddy and Mummy!”.
**Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The governing Marxist–Leninist political party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation in 1946 until it was dissolved after the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.
On three similarly designed posters, a soldier, a miner, and a female farm-hand are depicted, who give “everything for the welfare of the people”. The soldier says, “We’ll defend you!”; the miner, “We can deal with it!”; and the farm-hand, “We can manage it!”. The farm woman is wearing grey-blue dungarees, is well built, has her hair in a bob – and could easily be mistaken for the Chancellor. Yes, Angela Merkel could have looked like that 34 years ago. It’s not a question, however, of who the woman in the photo is; she’s just a concept, someone climbing out of the cabin of a tractor. Presumably, she is not actually a farm-hand; similarly, the soldier and the miner might also not be genuine. Yet the poster is authentic in a way that sends a shiver through the observer. The sentence, “Das schaffen wir! – We can manage it!” is an almost verbatim anticipation of the sentence uttered by Angela Merkel at the beginning of September  – “Wir schaffen das! – We can manage it!” – which brought on a crisis that paralysed and at the same time tormented the Federal Republic.
Merkel rules in the manner of a feudal prince
Millions of people are asking themselves again and again every day: what does the Chancellor want?; what’s she up to?; what exactly is the plan that she foreshadowed in an interview with [tv anchor] Anne Will? We are astonished to discover that in a country with 16 provincial (Länder) governments and parliaments, 16 minister-presidents, with a federal chamber, a Senate, a federal president and thousands of civil servants, everything comes down to what the Chancellor wants!
She determines not only the rules of the political game, she can also, with a word or gesture, open and close borders, set aside laws, and high-handedly sweep away all doubt as to the wisdom of her decisions. “We can manage it!”. Angela Merkel rules in the manner of a feudal prince, with the threat that she would abandon the country she sought to serve, should the people withhold their loyalty from her. No chancellor of the Bundesrepublik has ever risked being so aggressive.
This poster from the tenth Party Congress of the SED reminds us that the Chancellor was politically indoctrinated in the DDR, in a system that from first to last bore a re-engineered relationship with reality. The DDR wanted to become the 7th or 8th largest industrial economy in the world. [….] There was in the DDR no poverty, no unemployment, no xenophobia, and no crime. Hence the endless parades in the Stalinallee, which testified to the superiority of the conditions of life under real socialism. Even the weather reports were falsified if it was too hot or too cold, in an attempt to curb the energy consumption of households. Where there was a will, the way presented itself.
The BRD on the same road as the DDR
“We can manage it!” permeated the working norms, the five-year plans, and the plying of the population with luxury foods like bananas, coffee beans, and real chocolate. The spirit of “We can manage it!”, in today’s context, is applied to Energiewende (the switch to renewables), the abandonment of fossil fuels, the rescue of the rainforests, various categories of production, marketing of electric cars, and the absorption of millions of refugees from Africa, Arabia and Asia, who would help us to become or remain an open, ‘rainbow’, and tolerant land.
Meanwhile, public mass-transit stands on the brink of collapse, because there is no money for the proper maintenance of tracks, roads and vehicles. It is much simpler to plan Utopias than to repair a few ramshackle bridges in the Ruhr.
It looks then, as though the Federal Republic is now on the same road that took the DDR over the precipice of history. The Chancellor’s policy enacts the late revenge of the DDR on the BRD. She might not wish to acknowledge it, but the unconscious mind is famously distinguished for its special tenacity and dependability.
The speculation over Merkel’s motives will continue
The relationship between the former DDR and the BRD can be likened to a family, in which the children must first grow up before being able to get even with the parents for everything inflicted on them in their childhood. Twenty-five years after the Wiedervereinigung (Reunification), the former East Germans have arrived at this point. The further the demise of the DDR recedes into history, the better they remember the mortification they had to endure after the 9th November [1989, the opening of the Berlin Wall by the East German authorities].
Thousands of West German adventurers flocked into the DDR to talk East Germans into insurance policies, hire-purchase contracts, and magazine subscriptions, or to snap up furniture at bargain prices. For the DDR Germans, everything changed abruptly, while the BRD Germans felt as though somewhere in Mongolia a garden fence had come down.
But today they are threatened by those same ills once suffered by their brothers and sisters in the East. The DDR imploded through emigration; the BRD threatens to collapse under the burden of immigration. Then as now, the opening of borders was and is the prelude to calamity. Germany’s fate appears doomed to repeat itself. One could see in the symmetry of the event an act of poetic justice, brought about by a Chancellor from the East.
Thus will the speculation over the Chancellor’s motives continue, especially if in the meantime she starts to doubt whether “we” can manage it.
As for the young farm-hand, who in 1981 announced, to the honour of the SED, “We can manage it!”, – we should all love to know what became of her. ❞