Monday, November 9, 2009

Germany (East): Conservative Gain

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall coming down so I have listed some of the jokes from the old Eastern bloc that could only be whispered in their day.

One of my first visits to East Berlin was with the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation after the wall was breached. We went to the Stasi secret police HQ, with its torture rooms, and met the new generation of politicians like Chancellor Angela Merkel. I witnessed a people emerging from a living nightmare but who had – as President Obama would have put it – the audacity of hope.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan have an iconic status as the staunchest champions of Western values, something that our hosts reminded us. At the count for the first free elections, one person was heard declaring the result: “Germany (East): Conservative Gain.”

A freer Europe was the real gain for peace and democracy, and it made the Cold War worth waging.


What is Soviet ‘democratic centralism’?
It's when everyone together says, 'yes' and when everyone individually says, 'no'.

What is an exchange of opinion in East Germany?
You go to the Stasi with your opinion and, after torture, you return with theirs!

A socialist, a capitalist and a communist agreed to meet. The socialist was late. 'Excuse me for being late, I was standing in a queue for sausages.'
'And what is a queue?' the capitalist asked.
'And what is a sausage?' the communist asked.

An East Berlin customer asks at a shop, 'What's this, you don't have any meat again?'
'That's not true! There's no meat in the shop opposite. We don't have fish.'

Alexander the Great, Caesar and Napoleon observed the army parade in Red Square, as honourable visitors.
'If I had Soviet tanks,' Alexander said, 'I would have been invincible!'
'If I had Soviet planes,' Caesar speaks, 'I could have conquered the whole world!'
'And if I had had the Soviet newspaper "Pravda,”’' Napoleon said, 'the world, even now, would not have found out about Waterloo!'

Where were you born?
St Petersburg.
Where did you grow up?
Where do you live now?
Where would like to live?
St Petersburg!

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