Healing and Reconciliation

18 May, '10

Humble Berlin.

Although still smarting from past wrongs, it doesn’t choose to bury its head in the sand and pretend nothing happened over half a century ago.

No.

The Stasi Archives. There are about 20 rooms filled to the brim with some 18 million records just in Berlin.


It instead found the bravery and humility required to open deep wounds, clean them up, come to terms with history and use those painful experiences to ensure that those horrible events never recur.

Unlike us, they didn’t simply promulgate a law pardoning the torturers and tortured, much to our disgust and international disbelief. They didn’t throw away the chance to a much needed national reconciliation.

No.

They took a single step amongst many by gathering all the records left behind their erstwhile State Secret Police and preserved them into an archive containing some 18 million records, and gave their citizens the opportunity to view the content of their files, should they exist. That offered a lot of people the required closure and allowed them to heal and move on with their lives.

That was one brave step toward national reconciliation.

Reconciliation as a concept is easy of course. But its implementation requires real courage. Something I’m sad to say doesn’t seem to exist in our lovely little country.

Will there be anyone brave enough to tread that path for a better future?

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  1. Steve the American says:

    For a dramatic expression of what the Stasi did in East Germany, I recommend the excellent movie, “The Lives of Others.”

    • mahmood says:

      Thanks Steve, I’ll look it up. But being there is indescribably sad. Made all the more so is the realisation that this sort of thing still does exist, and with gusto, in our countries.

      And no one complains – as in, at least demanding a proper access to information act or regulate what can be stored in government archives.

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