Martin Shirdiwan (left): “The Federal Republic is an elite-free zone of East Germany” – WELT


world: Mr. Shirdewan, when you close your eyes and think of the house, what do you see?

Martin Sherdiwan: A street in my neighborhood in East Berlin, where I grew up, in the direction of Kollwitzplatz, which has changed little in the meantime. It’s early morning, the sun is setting. It is a beautiful and familiar sight. I feel at home here.

world: I recently said that in the fight against the AfD, a new, left-wing East German identity is needed, “a new love for the country and its people.” What should it look like?

Shirdiwan: There is an East German identity based on two sources. There is, among other things, the experience of the division of Germany. The German Democratic Republic has left traces in the development of the people. The second block is the results of the transformation, the transition from the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic. Helmut Kohl promised flowery landscapes, but many stood in front of the factory’s closed gates. But this hardly plays a role in the political or economic debate about the Orient.


Germany, former Iron Curtain

world: How is that?

Shirdiwan: The Federal Republic of Germany is an elite-free region of East Germany. East German biographies are rare. This can also be seen in politics, where such stories do not happen either. The formation of the federal government confirms this, and we must let the people tell their individual stories. Many of them have broken recruitment, training, and school resumes, shaped by deportations, poor working conditions, or the exodus of young men to the West, especially young women.

We see pictures of people banging on the wall, everyone cheering and waving flags. The Tarabis go to West Berlin. This is beautiful. but Reunion It then started only for East Germany and it was a painful process. Every family in East Germany knows such stories – but you don’t know much about them, and you hear so little about them. They have very little space in general German history for this turning point. Reunification was liberating for many East Germans, because the GDR was also an authoritarian state. However, there were huge frustrations and experiences of loss.

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Dirk_Oschmann_ullstein_2023_01_ © Jakob Weber_362_low

world: Want to use this collective experience?

Shirdiwan: Home and identity are determined by language, culture and history. There are differences between east and west. In a small town in Baden-Württemberg, no one was interested in reunification and the unrest associated with it, except in the East some of the products that were produced in Ländle were in demand. East Germans share the experience of loss. Since reunification, there has been a struggle for jobs because almost everything is shutting down. Or the corner shops disappear due to the construction of a supermarket.

Average annual wages in eastern Germany are €13,000 lower for comparable jobs than in western Germany. Pensions will also remain lower despite the pension value adjustment. This increases the discrimination experience. The desire for security and prospects makes people more receptive to authoritarian political overtures.

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Green politician Robert Habeck, Katrin Goering Eckardt (center), Analina Berbock

world: The AfD seems to be channeling this anger, leading in the polls in Thuringia or Brandenburg. Why did she do this?

Shirdiwan: The Alternative for Germany party is dividing society. The AfD’s policy does not unite, but plays minorities and other population groups against each other. And it does so through racist rhetoric against the public media and against democratic institutions. This destroys.

Left politics should show that these people have common interests. A part-time saleswoman in East Germany wishes for good health care. This desire can be well combined with the interest of a doctor from Syria who has completed his studies and is now looking for a place to settle down. But the AfD succeeds in pitting these people against each other.

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Alternative for Germany leaders Tino Chrupala and Alice Weidel


Tino Shrubala, Chairman of the AfD, and Political Editor Johannes Wiedemann

world: However, many seem to feel this is being taken too seriously.

Shirdiwan: There is a great need for a personal conversation. Corona led to an isolation that encouraged a move away from democracy. I recently organized neighborhood festivals in Thuringia. There were people who hadn’t spoken to anyone in politics for many years and were really grateful for this exchange.

In the end, guys from the village, about 20, disassembled beer tent sets with us, wanted to make themselves useful and return something. This instant speed helps, we have to overcome the disappearance of the rural party. Because we must not leave the streets and minds to the AfD.

“The left must once again be the social voice of the East”

Source: Martin UK Lengemann / WELT

world: But that’s not enough for neighborhood meetings, is it?

Shirdiwan: We need a good society. Example: Germany has an education problem. Schools in rural areas are desperately looking for teachers. If someone goes to university in a big city, the rural environment must be suitable for him to go there. Local public transportation should work, there should be a savings bank machine in town, and there should be Medicare.

The financial situation of countries must be improved for proper investments. And for that we need a wealth tax. But the finance minister and his finance minister are squeezing the brakes.

Finance Minister in Munich

He does not want to leave power to the CSU alone: ​​FDP leader Christian Lindner in Munich

The start of the election campaign in Bavaria

world: In opinion polls, the left performs rather poorly. According to one survey, the “Wagenknecht List” could be Winning state elections in Thuringia. Does this atmosphere around your party mate affect your strategic thinking?

Shirdiwan: I don’t think of a party without a structure, program or staff. Polls also show that AfD supporters in particular can imagine voting for a party from the Wagenknecht desert. It seems to me that this is some kind of projection surface for everyone.

The left must once again be the social voice of the East. We have to build on the East German tradition of the party: when East Germans were integrated into the Federal Republic, the left often had a historical advantage.

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Konstantin Werthmann (right) is a political scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences GESIS in Mannheim.

potential of a new party

world: Member of the Bundestag, Klaus Ernst Recently played With the entry into a possible new party of Sahrah Wagenknecht. Do you hear that from others?

Shirdiwan: Anyone seeking such a project should not do so from within my party. This is totally unacceptable and detrimental to the party. This is the red line. This is how the party executive, state associations and the majority of members see it.

world: Marine rescuer and climate activist Carola Rackete He should run for you in the European elections. in Saxony. Is this not more than a concession of the urban and activist milieu to your party?

Shirdiwan: I do not think so. Defending human rights and protecting the climate is important to us. Carola Rackete symbolizes that. That’s why I’m so happy to nominate her. We also suggest the homeless physician Gerhard Trabert, who affirms our political orientation towards redistribution and social policy.

Link wants Captain Carola Rackete in the EU Parliament

The left wants to name refugee activist Carola Rackete and social medicine specialist Gerhard Trabert as prominent cojones for the 2024 European elections. Captain Carola Rackete, 35, became internationally known in 2019 when she called on the island of Lampedusa “Sea Watch” despite the ban.

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