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A bit of Bundestag fun!

Felix Steiner / glb
November 8, 2014

There's never been anything quite like it in the German parliament. Dissident songwriter Wolf Biermann took the Left party to task, calling them descendants of a dictatorship. The truth hurts, writes DW's Felix Steiner.

Image: AFP/Getty Images/T. Schwarz

More often than not, the truth hurts.

It's for this reason that Germany's left is bubbling at the moment, bubbling in fury, in interviews and on the Twitter feeds of federal parliamentarians that belong to the party that calls itself Die Linke (the Left).

Die Linke, however, despite more than one name change over the past quarter century, is the reactionary remains of East Germany's state party, the SED, which ruled untouched during the four decades (1949-1990) of communism in the German Democratic Republic.

Wolf Biermann's melodic - and rhetorical - Bundestag cameo on Friday, intended to mark the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's demise, was unique for more than one reason. The simplest and most obvious: Never before, never ever before, has an hour of remembrance in German parliament been so much fun to watch. And, indeed, this made sense, seeing as though it was intended to commemorate one of the only cheerful and affirming moments of German 20th century history.

The non-conformist

Deutsche Welle Felix Steiner
DW's Felix SteinerImage: DW/M.Müller

Biermann wouldn't have lived up to his reputation if he hadn't done what he did, if he had merely - obsequiously - accepted the invitation of Bundestag President Norbert Lammert to come play a song. Biermann interpreted the invitation the way he wanted to, and before playing a single note, he began - in almost painfully languid fashion - to speak.

It seemed at first that he didn't know exactly what he wanted to say. Was this an analogy to what happened 25 years ago? When Günter Schabowski told the world at a press conference that the Berlin Wall had been opened? It was that press conference that kicked off what would become the happiest night in modern German history.

And then Biermann kicked it into gear, seamlessly turning into the personality his fans have known and loved him as for decades: sharp, to-the-point, and seriously lacking in respect.

Never before in the history of German parliament has any one party group been torn apart like this before. And the person dishing it out wasn't even a parliamentarian - it was a guest speaker! His "loyal, old enemies," that is, Die Linke, Biermann described literally as "rotting vermin." Was this truly happening? Could such an insult take place in Germany's "highest house?"

Of course! This must be tolerated by Germany's highest representatives - in this case Die Linke.

Biermann was a victim of East German persecution, a system that so perversely called itself the "German Democratic Republic." And the people deserving of praise 25 years ago are the courageous ones who took to the streets to bring down this dictatorship - and with it the Berlin Wall.

A right to wrath

The victims of the GDR should be granted the space to vent their anger, and nobody can hold them back from directing it today at the "dragon spawn" [literally, Biermann's words Friday in parliament] who are those still unwilling to recognize the wrongs of the GDR.

Wolf Biermann is one of those victims, and the words he fired off on Friday didn't come from nowhere.

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