Paweł Starzec

2018 - Ongoing

Germany; Berlin, Germany

Zersetzung is a word without proper translation, roughly meaning decomposition in German. It’s also a name given by the officers of Ministerium für Staatssicherheit – Stasi – to the complex tactic utilised against any person that was percieved possible threat for the regime of German Democratic Republic. Zersetzung process was in fact a psychological warfare technique, designed to damage mental health of a person it was applied to by subtly undermining all aspects of one’s life, using variety of methods of sabotage.

On 9th of November, 1989, a man named Günter Schabowski had been tasked with presenting new border policies of German Democratic Republic. However, being late for conference, he made a small mistake that led to a chain of events. Borders between East and West Germany opened, the Berlin Wall started to crumble. Unification of Germany was complected almost a year after, on 3rd of October, 1990, and as it was prepared, on 23rd of August the GDR Volkskammer officially stated the state’s will to access West Germany, and to accept Western laws as their own.

30 years later, the situation in Germany isn’t that simple that it might seem. The division is still clearly visible in many statistics, covering things from wealth and welfare to opinion on free immigration. The notion that the East – and with it it’s culture, heritage and life of it’s citizens – had been concealed after the unification is persistent; the economical fall of former Eastern Germany after the unification is also a factor. Ostalgie, nostalgia for the East, had been coined as a term covering not only Trabi adventure companies, but also growing sentiment of Ossis – former citizens of GDR, and residents of ex-GDR part of Germany – towards their former homeland that voluntarily ceased to exist. 30 years after the last Zersetzung – this time aimed towards the state itself – I’m interested in what remained of GDR heritage and identity of Eastern Germans 30 years after reunification of Germany, and what were the side effects of this process.

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  • Over 13 meters high and weighting 40 tonnes, Karl Marx head standing in the centre of Chemnitz, formerly known as Karl Marx Stadt, is the second biggest bust sculpture in the world.

  • When Heinz-Josef Große spotted that the guards are absent, he drove a backhoe loader up to the fence and climbed it, trying to escape. He was fatally shot few meters before reaching the Western territory, in a spot now marked with a white cross.

  • Halle-Neustadt was a model city of GDR. Current depopulation had led to many high rise plattenbau buildings to become dilapidated and abandoned. Currently, jokingly referred to as Ha-Neu, the city is a district of Halle.

  • Former headquarters of secret police were turned into a museum, together with preserved cabinet of Erich Mielke, chief of Stasi.

  • People gathered to view the projection of Palast der Republik, former heart of DDR, in the wake of 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall. Original building was demolished to make place for new developments.

  • DDR Shepherd was an eastern German modification of German Shepherd breed, more muscular and free of joint dysplasia of western counterpart. After the reunification, most of the breeding lines of DDR Shepherd were ended. In words of Heike, one of last 10 breeders; "After reunification, that is after 1990, no one in Eastern Germany wanted to ride a Trabant and no one wanted to have an East German shepherd. Everyone wanted to ride a Golf and have a shepherd from the West, so for many years you couldn't sell puppies, nobody wanted them. Then people saw that Western Shepherds were sick, but they noticed it too late."

  • Remains of former Pioneercamp Templin, partially converted into amusement park. From the 1960s and 1970s, nearly all schoolchildren between ages 6 and 14 were organised into Young Pioneer or Thälmann Pioneer groups.

  • A styrofoam decor put up on the street for the anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall. Various sources estimate that between 136 to more than 200 people died while trying to breach the Wall.

  • There are 22 currently active museums of former internal border between Eastern and Western Germany.

  • Former motorway border crossing between East and West, Helmstedt-Marienborn, refereed to as Checkpoint Alpha.

  • People trying to take part in #mauerfall30 main event – a open air concert next to Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall.

  • "We both were here 30 years ago as well, also on paramedic duty, but we were on different sides of the border that was opening that night."

  • "This heritage is my job. My workshop deals only with DDR-made motorbikes."

  • Thomas, owner of a motorcycle and moped workshop located next to former internal border.

  • Atendees of annual Trabant Meeting in Zwickau, where Trabis were made.

  • The main purpose of the Hohenschönhausen prison was to force the prisoner to testify, acting mainly under great psychological pressure. A system of light signals was invented to prevent inmates from even slightest chance of human interaction while being escorted down the hall. The prison was so well hidden that it was discovered several months after reunification. None of the prisoners really knew they were in Berlin; all transports took place in a way that made it impossible to determine the exact location of the complex. Even years after, former Stasi prisoners discovered that they were, in fact, mere kilometres from home while being incarcerated.

  • The Central Refugee Shelter for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, was in an 11-storey plattenbau apartment complex known as the Sunflower House, because of the decorating on the side.
    From August 22 to August 24, 1992 violent xenophobic riots took place in the Lichtenhagen district of Rostock, Germany; these were the worst mob attacks against migrants in postwar Germany. Even though stones and petrol bombs were thrown at an apartment block where asylum seekers lived, no one was killed. At the height of the riots, several hundred militant right-wing extremists were involved, and about 3,000 neighbourhood onlookers stood by, applauding them.

  • Pioneerrepublik Wilhelm Pieck was the most important Youth Ponieer Camp in whole Eastern Germany, where only the selected, best behaving children could spent their summer.

  • The hole Mig21 made when hitting the apartment block was completely repaired after a few days. Seven people died in the crash and subsequent fire, including the pilot of the plane.

  • Honecker was a leading figure in the government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1971 until he was forced out in the weeks preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989.

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