Tue Dec 1st, 2009 at 05:26:26 AM EST
Some nights ago I was watching the yearly Bambi awards on the ARD. The terminally boring ceremony did have a few highlights. Notably, Kate Winslet, who was beautiful, gracious, and actually managed to sit through the entire thing looking like she was intensely interested. What an actress.
The most memorable parts, though, came when the media award tried to tie into the celebrations of the fall of the wall, 20 years ago. An award was given to Helmut Kohl, for his role in driving the reunification that came a year afterwards, and in driving European integration. Another award was given to three 'silent heroes': Christoph Wonneberger, then pastor and co-instigator of the 'monday demonstrations' in Leipzig, that flowed out of his 'peace prayers'. Siegbert Schefke, a member of the 'environmental library' at Berlin Zionskirchplatz and cameraman. Aram Radomski, theatre worker and photographer.
The three had conspired to film the monday protests in Leipzig on the 9th of October, 1989. They got the images into the public television in the west, which meant that a lot of the people in East Germany, watching illegally, could also see the mass protests against the communist regime.
Here's a picture of Wonneberger at the ceremony, with Radomski behind him on the left and Schefke on the right:
(from the FAZ (de))
The opportunity was used by Schefke to call against including former Stasi employees in the state government of Brandenburg. Wonneberger, meanwhile, called for 'radical' disarmament.
I was reminded of this scene when I read the following attack on Catherine Ashton's ties to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the Economist:
[T]he lack of fuss about the real life Catherine Ashton's involvement with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1980s looks puzzling. Ms Ashton (as she was then) was a paid organiser for CND in the late 1970s and its treasurer from 1980-82.
It is worth remembering that CND was (and is) a legal organisation. It encompassed a wide range of views. Some supporters simply wanted Britain to get rid of its outdated and expensive "independent" nuclear deterrent. Others thought that the Reagan administration's decision to put medium-range cruise and Pershing nuclear missiles in Europe was mistaken. Some idealists believed that a strong peace movement in Western Europe would inspire those behind the Iron Curtain to demand disarmament from their rulers too. Some were outright pacifists; others argued that nuclear weapons were so dangerous that "better red than dead" was the only rational approach.
Most CND veterans see their peacenik days, at worst, as romantic youthful idealism. Warm-hearted but soft-headed, maybe: but better than being cold-hearted and hard-headed.
The rest of the article consists of constructing a far-fetched analogy to a hypothetical Tory female politician who had worked as an anti-communist with covert support from the South-African Apartheid regime and assorted dictators, and quoting Vladimir Bukovsky as an 'expert on Soviet penetration of the west' -- whose word is enough to prove that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was really a Kremlin operation.
Not realising, at first, that I was reading an Edward Lucas column, this got me somewhat worked up. However, as they continue to employ that fruitcake, it is worth repeating that the broader lesson from the Economists' reporting on the revolutions 20 years ago comes down to the following:
There was no peace movement in the east. There were no labour unions in the east. There were no intellectuals in the east. There was no environmental movement in the east. There were no artists and students in the east. The overthrow of the communist states in Central and Eastern Europe was not a victory of the people over an oppressive one-party rule.