2011-01-03 “All our Cowardice and Servility” from the Museum of Non-violent Resistance housed in the former Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin
“… nonviolent resistance as a political force is still young, its possibilities not yet well enough known, and is thus seldom an incitement to the masses and is seldom encouraged by the media. For all that, those striving for human rights are dependent on our solidarity and the feeling is growing of an ever increasing threat through the power of dictatorships, the armaments race and the immobility of bureaucrats. (I photographed these words in 1999!)
Gandhi presented the principles of nonviolent resistance to the world, but the methods – corresponding to the various hierarchies – have to be very different, should they lead to success. Through the multiplicity of nonviolent resistance, so rich in ideas, it can be demonstrated that the most powerful effective opposing forces can be mobilized against every form of violence …“
The Berlin Wall and the Communist regime in East Germany came down. The non-violent resistance that brought them down is graphically recorded in this homey, old, cramped museum. (The Museum of Non-Violent Resistance is housed in the building known as “Checkpoint Charlie” of Cold War fame, on the demarcation line in Berlin between West and East Germany.)
I first visited the Museum in 1999 at a time when NATO was bombing Kosovo.
This poem was penned by an unknown East German. It was simply presented. Fortunately, the picture I took turned out.
The poem spoke to me then, and always will:
“The red-painted tyranny was not
The worst about our tyrants
The worst thereby were we ourselves
All our cowardice and servility
And that we also were the evil ourselves
Just that is the chance and our luck
You see: It works! We also take back
The everlasting human right ourselves
Now we breathe again, we cry and we laugh
the stale sadness out of the breast
man, we are stronger than rats and dragons
– and had forgotten it and always knew.”
Understand the relationship between citizens and democracy.