Growing To Understand Contemporary Germany and Weep – Part I

Part 1

Part 1 Transcript

Growing to Understand Contemporary Germany—and Weep: Part I: Germany: East and West, Reunification, and the US

Hans-Hermann Hoppe

(Based on a speech delivered at the Property and Freedom Society 16th Annual Meeting, Bodrum, Turkey, Sep. 18, 2022, available at www.PropertyandFreedom.org)

So the title of my speech today is “Growing to Understand Contemporary Germany—and Weep.” And it comes in two parts.

If you ask me what was the most important year in world history, I would have to say it was 1949, because that was the year when I was born. And then there occurred also a few other important events such as Mises’ magnum opus, Human Action, which was published in 1949, and coming closer to the topic that I want to talk about: East Germany and West Germany. West Germany, called BRD, and East Germany, called DDR, were also founded in 1949, as was NATO.

I grew up in the West, but my parents were refugees from the East, both of them, and my mother’s family had been expropriated by the Russians in 1946, and they were expelled from their estate that they had. Most of my relatives, however, lived in East Germany.

As a child, we were extremely poor. My parents had absolutely nothing as refugees, but only in retrospect would I say that I was poor. Then, I thought that was all perfectly normal. And at the time, too, I thought it was perfectly normal that things would get better from year to year, not only for my family but also for the village in which we lived. I did not understand the reason for this. I simply thought that was perfectly normal. That’s how things go.

That it was not normal, I experienced then, through my annual visits to East Germany, to the DDR, which I had every year as a boy and as a teenager. For my parents, of course, the DDR was the Soviet-occupied zone, the East Zone, Socialist Germany—all bad. The picture in the East looked, indeed, very different. There were excruciating border controls, also internal controls within East Germany. You always had to register with the police. Stores were empty, and there was a near total lack of many normal goods, normal in the West.

There were always long lines that you could observe. There were huge waiting times. Sixteen years, for instance, you had to wait to get a car. And all people engaged in hoarding activities. As well, you could observe miserable work ethic and lousy service in restaurants, stores, and workplaces, constantly recurring shortages of supplies—we would call now supply chain disruptions—and much standstill and idleness. Overall, you got the impression of stagnation or even decay. There existed black markets and a black currency market. With Western money, you could buy in special stores, but without Western money, you couldn’t.

I learned also how affirmative action DDR style worked. The children of workers and peasants were given preference over those from bourgeois backgrounds, apart from the general preference given to party members, which was the Socialist party. On TV, the Socialist party leaders—they were like Proles in suits—were droning on for hours about the glorious achievements of which there was nothing to see. You experienced a climate of suspicion, standing under constant surveillance, and you had to be careful about what you said and to whom you said things, at any time.

Most depressing of all things in the DDR was, of course, that after 1961, it was nearly impossible to leave, and any attempted republic flight, as it was called, was punished with long prison sentences. My judgment on the DDR was decidedly negative even then, about 60 years ago. But at the time, I did not understand the fundamental reason why that was. I recognized that there was widespread absence of private property, and that it had something to do with it. But I mostly thought about residential property. But I was still a lefty at that time and mostly blamed the miserable personnel, the wrong people, for the failures that you could obviously see. And I still thought that central planning, central economic planning, would make some sense.

The DDR, as you know, collapsed in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism falling all over Eastern Europe. By 1989, I lived in the United States, and I must say I shed tears of joy when this all happened. And by then, 1989, I had, of course, a full understanding as to why. I had read Mises’ Gemeinwirtschaft, and not only that—and by then, I had also learned my lesson from Rothbard about the nature of a state as some sort of stationary gang of bandits and robbers, a protection racket.

The fundamental reason, then, for my first negative impression on East Germany and the ultimate collapse of it was that the DDR was an example of classic socialism. That is, without private property in factors of production, you simply cannot calculate. You cannot know what, where, when, and how to produce and adapt to changing circumstances. And, of course, this type of socialism failed everywhere where it was tried.

But by that time, I had also come to understand West Germany, the BRD. The BRD was an example of mild or soft socialism. Private property existed only in name. It was, so to speak, fiat property. It was private—until it would be taken away by the State. The system was called social market economy or social democracy, and its basic assumption was—as before, during the Nazi time—public welfare and public well-being trumps private welfare and private well-being, and also as much market as possible, and as much State as necessary, with the State determining what is possible and what is necessary.

All political parties were united in sharing all basic elements of the Communist manifesto. There should be a central bank. There should be progressive taxation. There should be inheritance taxes. There should be the social security Ponzi scheme, which you’re all familiar with. There should be “free” compulsory state education, and of course, there should be democracy—majority rule—which most manifestly is a form of communism. All property is ultimately Gemeineigentum—property of all. That is, the property of all and none, and in effect, the property of the State.

Still, West Germany had a good start before the entire system even started to begin to work. Ludwig Erhard—who was at that time economics minister—abolished all price and wage controls that he had inherited from the Nazi time—against the advice of American smarties like John Kenneth Galbraith, for instance. And this led to what is referred to frequently as the German economic miracle, and this German economic miracle then explained to me, of course, also why I had this early experience as a child that everything is always getting better.

But then it happened, what had to be expected: steady state growth and the successive erosion of private property rights. In addition, democracy, or majority rule, did its work. Instead of politbureau coups, as under orthodox socialism, there was now peaceful rotation of government leadership. Opposition parties were included and participated in government loot. And on this basis—that you all participate in government loot—it became possible that every party could form coalitions with any other. The result was, of course, steady growth of party politics, of politicians, and of political instead of productive activity and participation. It was a politicization of society.

The so-called best form of government—that is, democracy—is actually the best form for the promotion of demagogues, crooks, gangsters, and parasites. Consequently, the larger the State grew, the larger its tax and money-printing revenue—which always increased and never decreased—that is, the greater then the attraction of State infiltration, of takeover and control of the State by the industrial and financial elites, as well as for labor unions to a certain extent—so that they would gain control over the operation of the State and to attain special legislation and participate in the loot.

Accordingly, there also took place a change of the character of politicians. They were increasingly bought off and bribed and turned from self-thinking, independent agents into puppets controlled by puppet masters operating in the background. There was a transformation, so to speak, from a relatively free market to a state capitalism or crony capitalism taking place. And in the course of this development, the elected puppets, the politicians, got dumber and dumber so as to be more easily manipulated by the masters operating in the background.

The 1989 events also had a profound effect on this West German system of state or crony capitalism and the social-market economy. Theoretically, after the collapse of its orthodox socialism, the DDR could have chosen many different paths. Foremost, of course, it could have chosen to remain independent. In fact, however, the DDR was taken over by West Germany, by the BRD. The population in the East was bought off with freshly printed D-Mark, West German currency. All DDR assets and all real estate—everything was owned by the State there—were taken over by the West German government and the newly all-German unified state. And then they were redistributed and privatized according to the taste of the West German government and to its various favorites.

Generally and importantly, hardly any restoration of the original owners took place. For instance, I did not get back my property that they had robbed. As well, the entire BRD legal and regulatory welfare state system was wholesale exported and imposed on the East. Labor laws, co-determination, so-called unemployment insurance, social security, pensions, retirement systems, social housing—the whole system was simply imposed on East Germany, which rendered East Germany, until today, uncompetitive as compared to other formerly East Bloc States such as Poland or the Czech Republic, for instance, who could not fall back on their wealthy cousins next door.

Parallel to this economic and regulatory conquest of the East by the West went an ideological infiltration in the opposite direction: from East to West. Despite the massive crimes of the DDR rulers, there was little if anything in terms of punishment or restitution, because, as brothers in crime, the BRD, the West German elites, treated their East German equivalents with great understanding and the softest of gloves. The reason: There existed massive, dangerous Stasi files—the Stasi was the secret police in East Germany – or whatever was left of them; not all files were preserved; some were destroyed at the time when the takeover took place. And many Westerners had acted as, or feared to be revealed as, agents or collaborators. Many very high-ranking suspects, including Kohl and Merkel who were the leaders in West Germany, refused to have their files opened. And so many, many former DDR government agents, informers, spies, executives, torturers, and executioners, were deemed excused and found equivalent work in unified Germany because this government, too, like all governments, had and still has a steady demand for such skills.

I should remind you that the United States and Russia both took many former Nazis over into their system because they had certain qualifications. The rocket scientists in America and in Russia were Germans.

In sum, this unhappy West-East union then resulted in a systematic leftward shift, a strengthening of redistributionist and egalitarian forces of the entire German political party spectrum, a tendency toward sharply increased erosion, eradication, and undermining of private property rights—a tendency that is mostly and correctly associated in particular with East German Angela Merkel, and her reign as German chancellor from 2005 to 2021.

Now, whether Merkel was a Stasi secret police informer or not has not been definitively established. She refuses, of course, to have her files opened. But her DDR biography and her professional career and the privileges awarded to her makes this highly likely. She could, for instance, travel to the West, which most people could not do at all. But even if not, in fact what she effected was a most dramatic turn toward socialism, and in particular toward international socialism, and away from a free-market economy and of independent, sovereign nations and national economies in the history of post-WWII Germany.

Merkel turned the CDU—which was the formerly national-conservative, somewhat-Catholic-with-Christian-socialism-ingredients party—she turned that into a party that successively outflanked even the SPD, which was the traditional Socialist party, with its populist promises and redistributive measures. Under her reign, the SPD, the traditional Socialist party—the representative of the Socialist left versus the Socialist right, which were the conservatives—the social democrats increasingly went into decline. Not so much because of its program—social democracy had not failed—but because its program had been adopted and even bettered by others. By her—Merkel’s—CDU, the conservative party, on the one hand, and in particular, by the Greens on the other hand, which by now have overtaken the traditional Socialist party, the SPD, in terms of popularity and become the vanguard of the socialist left in Germany. Indeed, during the Merkel era, the Greens grew tremendously, and now in Germany, the most likely coalitions that will be formed, will be coalitions between the CDU, the formerly conservative party, and the Greens. They are the wave of the future.

If you look at the Green start, the Greens started as tree huggers and frog kissers, as environment and climate protectors. In their view, animals, plants, nature are our equals, with equal rights. That reveals, basically, their fundamental attitude, namely, anti-human and anti-private property. For them, to protect the environment means to override private property rights.  And against the biblical order that we are supposed to dominate the world, for them, Man is not to rule the world—indeed, he is a menace and it would be best if he would do nothing and just die out, because it is us humans who deplete the resources, expend energy, alter the environment, influence the climate, the atmosphere or whatever, and we have not asked the resources, the energy, and the climate if this is all right that we do it.

I consider this, of course, outrageous. Basically the Greens want, and claim to know how, to protect nature from human intervention. And how to do that? You reduce production. You reduce industry. You reduce consumption and all human comforts until you get poorer. You realize, I consider this one of the nuttiest ideas of all times, far worse than traditional socialism, which claimed to be the path to greater wealth. They chose the wrong means to do that, but of course, that was their goal. This goal the Greens don’t even have. And as I would judge, only a rich society can afford this Green nonsense, and even that only for a short time.

Not enough with that nonsense, next to equalizing humans with animals and plants and so as to impoverish people, the Greens are also champions of equalizing all people, all humans and human lifestyles and characters—assuming that you cannot get rid of humans altogether. Now, according to Greens, the drastic observable differences between different people—sexes, demographics—are the result of discrimination, of white male privilege, of exploitation, of imperialism, of colonialism, of sexism, and so on and so on. You know all this stuff. And never are they the result of different natural shapes and forms of different talents and different achievements.

In particular then, the obvious fact that the most successful societies, the highest development, the pinnacle of human civilization in all of human history are western, white, heterosexual, male-dominated societies with traditional father-mother-children family structures. This—the basis of civilization—this is incredulously considered scandalous by the Greens.

Accordingly, Greens are eager to disadvantage and punish these people and such social structures, and instead, as best as they can, award all sorts of benefits, privileges, quotas, brownie points, to everything and everyone less successful, less talented, less normal, or even and indeed abnormal and perverse. Black trannies with five extramarital children from six binary people are the most worthy specimen.

The whole program is basically: you support failure and punish success. That is obviously a perfect recipe for a disaster. The popularity of this dangerous, suicidal nonsense reveals what we have already come to expect from the disease of democratic rule. You dumb down the population gradually but successively. The typical voter of the SPD, the old, traditional leftist party, the old left, were blue-collar workers, and they wanted nothing more than to get wealthier—even if their choice of means was wrong. But the number of blue-collar workers has been in steady decline for decades. The typical voter of the Greens, on the other hand, and also of their leaders, the new left, belong to the class of parasites. They do not, and in most cases, never did work in the value-productive private sector, but live off the taxes paid by the working population. They live as public employees, and their number has been steadily growing. They are social workers, teachers, professors, journalists, students that never finish any study, and the spoiled children of wealthy parents and members of NGOs, non-governmental organizations. Nearly all of them are urbanites with no idea and experience about rural life, agriculture, animal husbandry, or any other business, for that matter; and as public employees, with little if any fear of economic decline, unemployment, or any hardship whatsoever. They are mostly losers that would miserably fail in a competitive environment and that, under normal circumstances—that is, without quotas, affirmative action—no private business would ever hire them. Again, only a wealthy society can afford such a growing parasitic overhead, and even that only for a while.

Only a brief note on the so-called AFD, the alternative for Germany, which is nowadays considered to be Nazi-like—but they are, by and large, the same party that the CDU and traditional conservatives used to be at the beginning of the West Germany history.

What is still missing for a more or less complete picture here is the place and role of Germany in the international order, in international relations and in geopolitics. Now, the DDR—East Germany—was a vassal of the Soviet Union. And the BRD—West Germany, and after 1990 also the unified Germany—was and still is a vassal of the United States. The other two victorious powers—Great Britain and France—can be neglected here because they are essentially US vassals as well.

Now, I concentrate just on the West here, and it’s because of its takeover of the East. West Germany was the result of defeat, of military occupation, and remains a US vassal essentially to this day. There are a massive amount of American troops stationed in Germany. There is no peace treaty, and based on the legal fine print, Germany lacks complete sovereignty until today.

There are hard indicators of this US domination. The constitution of West Germany and now of all of Germany had to be okayed by the occupying forces. Parties, newspapers, media, schoolbooks required a license by the occupiers. There was an implementation of de-Nazification programs and campaigns, a so-called Charakterwaesche, character wash. There was a promotion of a new orthodox history. Victors always write the history.

And this retraining and re-education, de-Nazification, etc. was developed and supervised very often by imported or re-imported Germany emigrees, mostly Jewish, and the introduction of the field of political science that did not exist before; it is a typical American discipline that did not exist previously.

In 1955, that’s the next indicator of American domination, Germany became a NATO member under US leadership, of course. And thus, Germany became enlisted and involved in the Cold War. Beginning also at that time was the European integration, which ended ultimately with the EU and the European Central Bank, with the purpose to control and weaken the defeated Germany as a potential rival economic power.

The promotion of the so-called Holocaust industry and of the uniquely German guilt complex was to cement Germany’s position as eternal paymasters and with any, even the slightest criticism of the official narrative, you would be punished by prison sentences, up to this day. There are plenty of Germans for telling slightly deviating stories to sit in prison.

Then there are some soft indicators for US domination. There was ideological infiltration and re-education that was made possible, of course, because of the US position as the richest and wealthiest economic power. And the result of this position as the wealthiest country on Earth was some sort of cultural imperialism and penetration. Invitations and grants were given from America to politicians, journalists, intellectuals, academics, and they were funded by wealthy foundations, by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, J.P. Morgan, and of course, by the American universities, especially the Ivy League universities.

And then there was the establishment of US-funded foundations, institutions, and institutes within Germany and also within other vassal states around Europe. And all this, of course, to buy German loyalty, especially among bright, young people. The US and US connection became the place and the way to go for money, influence, prestige, power, and success. That also attracted me, of course, except that the outcome might not have been quite as expected.

To name just a few such influencer institutions besides the Ivy League universities, foremost, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Chatham House, the Bilderbergers, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome, the Atlantic Bridge, the Aspen Institute, the World Economic Forum. Their common purpose was to assemble, to create, and train an international, interconnected elite of people taken from politics, finance, business, and intellectual life all committed to the ultimate goal of a world government and a world central bank run by them and their likes.

The leading men in these largely overlapping elitist circles were mostly Americans. Unsurprising, of course, as the US is the world’s greatest military and economic power. But not nationalists—America-firsters like Trump were despised by these folks—but internationalists, anywheres rather somewheres, all of them pursuing a globalist-internationalist agenda. And among these circles, Jews were vastly overrepresented given their small, absolute numbers; again, unsurprisingly given their significantly higher average IQs. Jews are greatly overrepresented practically in all cognitively demanding fields, including also in high-brow financial crimes incidentally, but to note, also in libertarian circles and anti-globalist circles. Just think of Mises, Rand, and Rothbard. Nonetheless, the absolute number of super-smart and super-rich Gentiles far exceeds that of Jews, and hence, although it would be naïve to deny the enormous power and influence of a Jewish lobby, I am not ready to accept the thesis, which is quite popular in some circles, of some sort of Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.

On then to indicators of centralization, of US-led success in the direction of centralization and of German submission in all of this. First off, there’s, of course, NATO, the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the Euro: all success in the direction of centralization. Through these institutions, all German and European parties increasingly were harmonized programmatically and brought into line with US ambitions, first and most easily with the “right” parties like the CDU, and a little bit more slowly with the left SPD and left-leaning parties, but by now also with the Greens. I’ll come back to that later again.

And as for cultural domination: the character, organization, and curricula of US academic institutions and universities was increasingly copied all across Europe. Even teaching increasingly in English. And every American intellectual fad swept almost immediately over the Atlantic, and I’ll come back to that more in a minute. A new chapter in the process of globalization was entered with the collapse and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the somewhat parallel beginning of Chinese economic reform and rise.

By then, within the US, great progress had been made moving leftward there too: more egalitarian internally (mostly the work of Democrats) and the control over foreign policy had been attained by the neocons, a group of former Trotskyites (mostly Republicans but not only Republicans) that had decidedly globalist and interventionist ambitions. The US was, for them, an exceptional nation.

The neo-conned US did not abolish NATO, although NATO’s original goal had been accomplished. The Soviet Union was no more, and NATO had only been formed in order to combat communism, the Soviet Union. But it expanded it, first with German reunification. The former DDR now became a NATO member. And then quickly, many of the now independent Soviet republics and satellite states of the Soviet Union—all of these countries followed. So US hegemony was greatly expanded. Moreover, Germany was compelled to give up the D-Mark, the Deutschemark, and adopt the Euro and the European central bank. And the EU, the European Union, itself was expanded roughly parallel with the NATO expansion, thus further advancing centralization and weakening Germany twice, once by a weaker currency—the euro is far weaker than the D-Mark was—and by the expansion of the Germany paymaster role all over Europe. More and more countries came onto the German payroll.

Then, the neocons, in search of a new enemy, and so as to satisfy the industrial military complex that financed their campaigns and careers, discovered the danger of radical Islam and found reasons aplenty to interfere with war and orchestrated coups and organized boycotts against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, also not to forget Serbia. And they always implicated Germany in one way or another in these enterprises. German soldiers then eventually defended western civilization at the Hindukush and in Mali. And out of this mess created by US foreign interventions and invasions, quite unsurprisingly, came and still come massive waves of immigration and invasions from these places, unloaded to Western Europe, with Germany the greatest attraction and most willing to accept these people. There was the German guilt again.

The result is a de-homogenization and further dumbing down of the population so as to be ruled more easily by the ruling elites and to overcome any national or nationalist resistance in Germany and also in other European countries against the further centralization of powers in Europe, in Brussels. In this practice, immigration practice, Europe, especially Merkel-Germany, followed actually the pattern set by the open borders and indiscriminate immigration policy of the US, supported there by globalists and opposed by America-firsters. There, in the US, this meant free immigration for Central and South America and the third world so as to ensure a permanent electoral majority of the left.

In any case, however, neither in the US nor in Europe with its near Eastern and African guests, arrived geniuses and productive people as promised, but mostly economic ignoramuses that ended up on the dole and contributed mightily to rising crime rates. And it was in connection with the US-caused invasion of Europe by hordes of Middle Easterners and Africans, then, that the US practice and fad of affirmative action that began there in the 1960s with blacks and then successively was expanded to ever more underprivileged groups, all the way down to trannies nowadays, whose only achievement is to show themselves off and blabber about their being trannies or homos, whatever it is. Now, all that took also a firm hold in Europe, with Germany again taking the lead and the Greens always on the forefront of the battle against racism, sexism, xenophobism, and whatever it is—all the current PC claptrap – rivaling in the meantime even the US in terms of insanity.

Not enough with that: if you want to advance a globalist program, you have to invent global problems to rationalize your activities. Fundamentally, all problems and difficulties in human life are individual problems to be solved individually or in voluntarily cooperation with others. So-called social problems like income inequality or poverty for instance, are problems, the solution of which supposedly requires a coercive state. Indeed, they are invented to legitimate state action—gangsterism, stealing, and redistribution. The problem of climate change, global warming or cooling, is also an individual problem and has been treated as such throughout millennia. Private property owners make adjustments in reaction to changes in climate.

But the globalist elites, with the US—Al Gore comes to mind in this regard—managed to transform and redefine it into a global problem requiring for its solution allegedly global or international measures, and the funneling of enormous funds into international intergovernmental organizations, conferences, institutions busily developing horror scenarios to justify and interfere with production, consumption, and every human activity everywhere all across the globe, and thus successively eroding whatever is still left of private property rights.

Indeed, in the meantime, a huge climate change industry has grown up, with thousands and thousands of hangers-on, funded, directly or indirectly, by government dough and supporting hordes of economics parasites and climate activists. In Germany in particular, the Greens have become some of the most fanatic proponents of this globalist fad. I would call it religion.

And although the entire leadership of the Greens are, very much like Al Gore, without any exceptions, intellectual nullities without even the most basic understanding of economic law and principles or any training in the natural sciences—indeed, although they and their most dedicated followers are often just children without any life accomplishment whatsoever—and although their claim of knowing how to and being able to control the global climate through various taxes and ever more taxes on production and living a normal life—although this should strike anyone in his right mind as sheer lunacy, as a sign of megalomania and of mental insanity, still the climate-protection craze, led by the Greens, but shared in the meantime by all other parties, except the AFD, have become ever more popular. And so-called climate deniers have been increasingly treated as outcasts and made victims of the new cancel culture. (Germany may still be the land of the Dichter, of the poets. Interestingly, the Green leader, Mr. Habeck, the economics minister, is the author of children’s fairy tales. But it’s certainly no longer the land of the thinkers, of the Denker.)

Now, the next push towards globalization, the transfer and concentration of power into the hands of an international elite centered in and led by the US, and just as the global climate crisis still with us today, came with the so-called Covid pandemic. The origin of the virus is still somewhat in dispute, but there is increasing evidence that it was the result of an exceptional reckless American biowarfare attack on China and Iran. In any case, health and the prevention of illness or infection are also individual problems falling into the realm of individual responsibility and the distinction between a healthy and a sick or infectious person was made on the basis of symptoms or hard indicators.

During the Covid pandemic, the global elites, in intimate cooperation with the pharmaceutical-industrial complex, discovered that you can literally manufacture a global health crisis and a panic based not on hard indicators such as symptoms, serious disease, or even death, but solely and merely based on some artificial test that had at best only minimal predictive power as regards serious illness or death. And without these tests, most people would not even have noticed that they were sick. Without tests, there would have been no health crisis, because in actuality, Covid did not have any more serious consequences than a severe flu. Except now, on the basis of Covid tests, the economy was damaged. Actually, a central-command economy was established. The test results were used by the powers that be to restrict human liberties and property rights in an unprecedented way. Totalitarian powers and measures were assumed and taken by them to allegedly avert an impending catastrophe. House arrests, curfews, business closures, bans of work, production, travel, movement and association were enforced, and people were compelled—even forced—to subject themselves to an injection with a so-called vaccine that was untested, the producers of which had been exempted from any liability for side effects, and that turned out largely ineffective.

In addition, people were bothered by requirements of certificates and permits in order to lead a normal life again. Again, in this event, Germany turned out to be one of the most obedient, authoritarian countries. Only Austria was even worse in this regard, but Austria made a mild turnaround a little bit later. It’s much milder now than Germany where this whole thing still goes on.

And most people—that was an amazing thing—most people sheepishly followed the constantly changing and contradictory orders given by their political leaders and imposters and their so-called experts and advisors drawn from and paid by the pharma industry whose every prediction turned out false or fabricated or just simply made up. Still, there was little if any resistance and then only a very timid one, which taught me an important lesson: namely, how difficult it is and how difficult it has become to resist government or state orders, even if they are of the most totalitarian kind such as body invasions.

We, my generation, had been taught to criticize and fault our parents for their alleged cowardice during the Nazi time. That was a standard program in German schools. Ask your parents. What did you do? Why didn’t do you anything? Why didn’t you do anything?

And what I learned from the behavior of the people during the Covid crisis was: it taught me a lesson in humility because, what did I do? What did we all do? Even though it was obviously far less dramatic and evil than what happened during the Nazi period. No, we did not resist. So I felt humbled by this experience and could somehow understand how these things happen to other people too. Well, with this, my first part of the speech, is over. I’ll give you 15 minutes, and then we’ll come back for the second part.

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