Transition Dialogue in Sofia

Transition Dialogue – Konferenz in Sofia / Конференция в Софии

Transition Dialogue – Konferenz in Sofia

Am 22. und 23. November fand in Sofia eine Konferenz zur Vorbereitung der weiteren Arbeit zum Thema “Transition Dialogue” statt – eine Kooperation von Sofia Platform und DRA mit Unterstützung der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb). Von den Konferenzteilnehmern – Experten, Vertreter der Bildungseinrichtungen und NGOs – wurde erörtert, wie sich die oft traumatische Erlebnisse der Menschen aus den Transformationsjahren nach 1990 in den früheren sozialistischen Ländern Mittel-, Ost- und Südosteuropas ausgewirkt haben und auf politische Einstellungen und psychosoziale VerhaltensweiTransition Dialogue, Eastern Europesen nachwirken bis heute. Nicht selten sind sie eine wesentliche Quelle für die Rückschläge in der Demokratieentwicklung in den Ländern – weil der Wunsch nach Wiedererlangung von Stabilität vielerorts zur “Stabilocracy”, einer autokratischen Verfestigung der Machtstrukturen, führte. Das Thema ist eines der großen unaufgearbeiteten Themen der jüngeren Geschichte – und äußerst kontrovers zwischen den Ländern, aber auch innerhalb der Gesellschaften und sogar in den Familien.

Demnächst wird eine Publikation mit Analyse der wichtigsten Themen der Konferenz  und Empfehlungen für politische Bildung unter Berücksichtigung der Erfahrungen der osteuropäischen Länder veröffentlicht.

Transition Dialogue – Конференция в Софии

В продолжение изучения возможностей развития диалога о трансформации с 22 по 23 ноября в столице Болгарии Софии состоялась конференция, совместно организованная ДРА и София Платформ (Болгария) при поддержке Федерального агентства гражданского образования Германии. Участники конференции –  эксперты, представители педагогических учреждений, некоммерческих организаций – из стран Восточной, Центральной и Юговосточной Европы активно обменивались опытом о том, как в их странах опыт перестройки 90х годов, часто сопряженный с травмой, повлиял на политические убеждения населения и его психосоциальное поведение. Нередко данный опыт является причиной того, что стабильность в данных странах ассоциируется со «стабилократией», а также авторитарным укреплением структур власти, что неизбежно приводит к поражению демократии.All-together-Sofia Тема личного опыта перестройки и трансформации остается одним из очень больших, при этом мало исследованных вопросов новейшей истории. Даже при поверхностном рассмотрении заметно, насколько данная тема противоречива не только среди различных стран Восточной Европы, но и внутри каждого общества, и даже внутри семей, с личным опытом каждого члена семьи.

По итогам конференции в ближайшее время будет издана публикация, в которой будут проанализированы главные аспекты, затронутые на конференции, а также будут даны рекомендации по политическому образованию учитывая опыт стран Восточной Европы.

 

Transition Dialogue – Что дальше? / Wie geht’s weiter?

Transition Dialogue – Что дальше?

В прошлом году наш диалог о трансформации брал паузу, однако сейчас активно происходит его  следующий этап. Вопрос о дальнейшем развитии диалога мы обсуждаем прямо сейчас.

24 сентября в библиотеке Луизенбад в Берлине состоялся воркшоп под названием «Поколение Трансформации в Восточной Европе: Поколение неопределенности – Поколение недоверия». Данное мероприятие прошло в рамках проекта «Диалог о Трансформации» который является совместной инициативой ДРА и София Платформ (Болгария) при поддержке Федерального агентства гражданского образования Германии.
Эксперты в сфере политологии, молодежного образования и социологии из восьми восточноевропейских стран приняли участие в воркшопе для поиска нового подхода и методов гражданского образования поколения перестройки. Целью встречи явилась постановка дальнейших конкретных задач и вопросов для лучшего понимания актуальных политических позиций, гражданских знаний и возможностей людей, переживших переход к демократии в 90х годах в Восточной и Южной Европе, а также России и ГДР.
Были представлены социологические и политические исследования поколения транформации, ставшие основой для дальнейшего обсуждения формальных и неформальных подходов и других аспектов гражданского образования. Участниками была также подчеркнута необходимость такого обмена профессиональными знаниями для лучшего исследования и понимания процесса перехода к демократии с разных перспектив. Затронутые важные вопросы и темы будут впоследствии вынесены на широкую дискуссию на конференции в Софии (Болгария), которая пройдет 22-23 ноября 2018 в рамках проекта «Диалог о Трансформации».

Transition Dialogue – Wie geht’s weiter?

Unser Transition Dialogue war im letzten Jahr ein wenig still. Die nächste Periode unseres Dialogs beginnt jedoch. Was kommt als nächstes? Darum ging es in unserem aktuellen Treffen.

„The Generation of Transition in Eastern Europe: A Generation of Uncertainty – a Generation of Distrust?“ Zu dieser Frage veranstaltete der DRA gemeinsam mit seiner bulgarischen Partnerorganisation „Sofia Platform“ und durch Unterstützung der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung einen Workshop am 24. September in der Bibliothek am Luisenbad in Berlin. Die Veranstaltung wurde im Rahmen des gemeinsamen Projekts „Transition Dialogue“ durchgeführt.

Expert_innen der Politikwissenschaft, Jugendbildung und Soziologie aus acht osteuropäischen Ländern kamen dabei zusammen, um nach neuen Zugängen zur Erforschung der „Wendegeneration“ und davon ausgehend neuen Maßstäben für die politische Bildung zu suchen. Ziel des Austauschs war es Fragestellungen zu erarbeiten, die helfen die aktuellen Einstellungen, politischen Ansichten und zivilgesellschaftlichen Haltungen der Menschen zu verstehen, die die massiven Transformationserfahrungen der 1990er Jahre in Ost-, Süd- und Mitteleuropa miterlebt haben.
Während des Workshops wurden soziologische und politikwissenschaftliche Studien zur Wendegeneration aus verschiedenen Ländern vorgestellt, die die Grundlage für die weitere Diskussion bildeten. Die so erarbeiteten Kernthemen dienen der Vorbereitung für eine umfassendere Konferenz im Projekt „Transition Dialogue“, welche am 22.-23 November 2018 in Sofia (Bulgarien) stattfinden wird.

Transition Dialogue – What Next?

Our Transition Dialogue has been a bit silent for the last year, however the next period of our the Dialogue ist about to start. What’s next? That’s what we discuss right now.

“The Generation of Transition in Eastern Europe: A Generation of Uncertainty – a Generation of Distrust?” This question was the main focus of the workshop the DRA organized together with its Bulgarian partner organization “Sofia Platform” with the support of the Federal Agency of Civic Education of Germany on September 24th at the Luisenbad Library in Berlin. The workshop was held within the framework of the common project “Transition Dialogue”.

Experts in political science, youth education and sociology from eight Eastern European countries came together, to gain new insights into the “Generation of Transition” and discuss the possible implications on civic education deriving from them. The aim of the exchange was to develop a range of questions, which would help to understand the current attitudes, political views and civic demeanors of people, who lived through the massive transformation of the 1990ies in Eastern, Southern and Central Europe.

Throughout the workshop sociological and political science studies from different countries were presented and served as a basis for the discussion. The core issues thus worked out will be discussed in length in a more comprehensive conference taking place in Sofia (Bulgaria) on 22nd-23rd of November 2018.

Mapping Transition: E-Book out now

Two years of research, six countries, six different histories of transition, lots of shared stories and many lessons learned about democracy and how to bring about change. We are happy to present our Book:

“MAPPING TRANSITION IN EASTERN EUROPE” – out now online!

The book is the final publication of the first project period of “Transition Dialogue” from 2015 – 2017.  Project Coordinator: Christine Wetzel

About the Book “Mapping Tranistion in Eastern Europe”

“Mapping Transition in Eastern Europe: Expericence of Change after the End Communism”, edited by Louisa Slavkova, 96 pages, published by DRA e.V. 2017.

For a free printed copy please send an e-Mail to info@transition-dialogue.org

Table of Content

About the Transition Dialogue Network
Christine Wetzel

Comparing Transitions: Challenges and Lessons for Civic Education
Louisa Slavkova

Bulgaria: Nostalgia on the Rise
Iva Kopraleva

Croatia: How to keep Talent at Home
Rafaela Tripalo

Germany: A Tale of Two Generations
Dr. Judith Enders, Mandy Schulze, Christine Wetzel

Romania: A Missed Opportunity for Minorities
Irina Ilisei, PhD

Russia: Authoritarian Resurgence
Oksana Bocharova, Polina Filippova, Vlada Gekhtman

Ukraine: Transition Reset
Olena Pravylo

Acknowledgements

 

What Women got from Change: Interview with Mihaela Miroiu

Mihaela Miroiu (born in 1955), Professor at the National University of Political and Administrative Studies Bucharest, is one of the most important feminist scholars in the Eastern Europe. She initiated the first courses of Gender Studies in Romania, contributed to the feminism activism movement and published noumerous volumes on feminist ethics and philosophy. In the most famous book of her, “The road to autonomy. Feminist Political Theories”, she expounds the historical evolution of feminism and feminist political theories and most important, she explores the developments of gender policies in the context of communism and post-communism.

Irina Ilisei: What did the time of transition mean for the Romanian women?

Mihaela Miroiu: If we’re talking about a transition as a passage to something new, namely to a western type of society, a liberal-capitalist democracy, then we are talking about the 2000-2006 period. Thus, if since December 2000 we began the accession to the EU process, the whole 2000-2006 is a period of transition in itself. So we have a post-communist transition and a transition towards EU accession. That makes two transitions. Different things happened in these two transitions.

The post-communist transition meant the following things for women: First, the idea of gender equality, once promoted by communism, completely collapsed. Right after the fall of the communist regime the political representation of women declined to 3.5% at national level and 1.6% at local level. Therefore, politically speaking, women became completely unimportant and their interests weren’t represented.

What did the economic changes mean for women in contrast to men?

With the fall of the communist industry, specifically the state industry, the whole social network related to it collapsed too:  the nurseries and kindergartens which belonged to the industry. This meant, most of the nurseries and kindergartens closed. The state’s support in children’s upbringing fell through. On the other hand, in terms of job loss, the collapse of the so-called “heavy industries” like mining, smelting, machinery, oil refining affected mainly men. Mihaela Miroiu:

The industries in which women worked, the “light industries”, like food and textile industries, as well as commerce and tourism which were dominated by women, were privatized. Therefore, women’s adjustment to the market economy was faster than that of men. Practically speaking, in this first decade, those who created that massive GDP were women. The GDP that women produced was then redistributed as unemployment benefits, compensatory leaves etc. to the men from the heavy industries. The women contributed to the GDP and earned money, their money were taken and redistributed to those affected by deindustrialization. Thus, they did not lose jobs or status, but they lost money. This is where the financial imbalance between women and men began.

You mentioned the low representation of women in politics. How was that felt in practice?

Politically, women were alone, not represented. Along with the transition towards market, the trade unions disappeared and their interests were simply not taken into account. As a result, women had no protection from any trade union whatsoever. The feminist organizations emerged later and they did not appear in order to intervene in the socio-political life of women but rather in their education, their emancipation, the civil rights, this whole process that, intellectually speaking, mostly took place in the ‘70s. At an intellectual, civic and political level, there were some attempts at creating a form of support such as the “222” group for political equality in the Romanian Parliament. There were certain programs designed to help them, mostly made by the UN. Later the first feminist organizations emerged and women’s organizations began to develop, but this whole movement did not, in fact, impact their political status and interests.

As a result, what we discovered from research, was a patriarchy-concept rooted in the minds of the people deeper than we ever thought. This is because in communism, in terms of private relations, nobody tried to change it. And after the fall of the communist regime the church remained as the most influential institution strongly supporting the re-legitimization of the traditional patriarchate. So this is what the women got: all they won was a lighter transition towards market economy.

Did the average women feel frustrated realizing that along with the transition they have lost the kind of equality that they were somehow having during the communism?

I think the main frustration – based on the researches I have conducted especially in deindustrialized areas – was that their men did not work anymore or that their men entered a huge work crisis and even an identity crisis, that what later  lead to excessive mortality. Usually, when women loose work places, they don’t manifest extreme identity crises because their identity doesn’t revolve exclusively around professional identity in an “I either have that job or I’m nothing” sort of way. This was not a win for women but a loss for men compared to women.

The second source of frustratuion, according to my research, was the rather conflictual and merciless way of making politics – as women felt it.  This alienated them from the world of politics from a moral point of view.

They considered that as long as politics can’t take a more cooperative and ethical form, they have nothing to do there. In a way, from all I have seen, women would be more ready for a stage of consolidated democracy than men through their male representatives. Sure, another frustrating issue is the already mentioned absence of support in children’s upbringing. What was there, was mostly private and pretty expensive.

What are the differences that you notice between the different generations of women –   those socialized in the communist era and the younger ones who were socialized in the transitional period?

Now I will be talking specifically about a study which included 101 women from both urban and rural areas of the Hunedoara county, part of three main generations: one generation which we have called the “communist generation”, the one which lived most of its live under the communist regime, that’s my mother’s generation; the “transitional generation”, which is my generation; and, finally, the “generation of democracy” [those who lived only few years of childhood under the communism].

The Communist Generation: Greatfulness for Urban Development and Education

We worked with research concerning all three generations and we noticed the differences between them. The communist generation was somehow pleased with communism and the main satisfaction was the fact that they had access to education, housing provided by the state and services. Generally, because 80% of Romania’s population lived in the rural areas, they had little access to education [bevore]. They were very happy with the possibility of getting an education. They consider this to be the single most important benefit they got during the communist era.

In Romania, women weren’t economically dependent on men as the have always worked shoulder to shoulder to men: both in the non-monetary peasant economy and later when they all got a job in the communist economy. It took equally peasant women and peasant men equally and built an industry with all of them. So in this sense, the main reasons for their gratitude were education and the urban lifestyle.

The Transition Generation: The Change Maker who see nothing good in Communism

For the generation of their daughters, education and the urban lifestyle were natural things. Now the gratitude towards the regime is gone completely, because this broad access was already granted. This is where the frustration emerged from, as the majority of them lived their youth in the ‘80s, with the general state of shortage, the economic crisis,  the consequences of Decree 660 (which forbade abortions), the complete absence of contraceptive methods and general a deep frustration with the state –  given the fact that the majority of the population was now pretty well educated. This is the generation which found nothing good in the past.

On the other hand, it was the generation which had to make the first great transition. Most of these women had to become some kind of ‘Jill of all trades’, to be both the men and women. A woman must be able to support a family mostly on her own, since her husband is now unemployed and she has to work double, even triple shift to be able to make ends meet. On top of all that, one must change and learn new skills in order to keep up with the world in which they lived. In my opinion, it was a generation with a high endurance and a great capacity to adapt. For good or for bad, everything that has substantially changed in Romania [in the transition time until the EU-access] has done so because of the people in this generation.

The Democracy Generation: Nostalgia and Desinterest in the Rights Achieved

And then there’s the next generation – having nothing to do with communism or being 2, 3 or 4 years old when the regime fell –  who thinks that life was pretty good back then because the state gave you a job and a house. There are all kinds of mythologies. If you ask me, I’d say: “If the state, after you graduate from univeristy would send you to the Pocreaca village [middle of nowhere] where there wasn’t even a train, would put that address on your ID and you were kept in that village like a prisoner with no house, no train and no possibility of leaving, was it better that they gave you a work place?” It’s all these illusions regarding what communism actually was.

But this is not what concerns me the most. What concerns me is the answer to the question: “If your husband would have earned enough so as you wouldn’t have to work too, would you have stayed home?” The answer of those in the communist generation and the transitional generation was a firm “no”. They couldn’t even imagine not being independent. On the other hand, many of those in the young generation answered “yes”. What struck me was a feeling of a backwards step in terms of emancipation.

How is it possible for the generation of their grandmothers and mothers to be so strongly independent while their (grand)daughters would willingly accept a state of dependence because it’s “trendy” or because it is a cultural model which they got from the fiction of some glossy magazine. I never quite understood this.

Of course, it is a very interesting generation from other points of view, but a generation which seemed less interested in politics, less involved in civic matters and with a tendency towards abandonment and dependency. This situation had both surprised and saddened me. I was used to the women in my generation, women who were strong, independent, autonomous, which involve others in the process of emancipation, which can’t even imagine not being independent. Back then, mothers and grandmothers were like that and most of them would choose that path. When you belong to certain groups where the need for liberation, for being yourself and being autonomous is strong, depending on a man wouldn’t cross your mind, but when you’re not part of such groups and you’re only connected to such channels which promote the Barbie model, or even luxury prostitution, the woman who managed to get her hands on a wealthy man appears to be the epitome of success.

Do you believe that the transition process in Romania is over?

Yes, I think it’s over and it came to an end in 2016 like it wouldn’t have considered it to be over in 2015. When you see what happened in 2016 in the old consolidated democracies and what foolish election choices were made by the people supposed to have a strong democratic political culture, like in the United States of America or in the oldest European democracy, namely the Great Britain, you start wondering where does Romania stand. And I want to say that as long as in 2016 Romanians did not elect extremist politicians. In terms of democracy, Romania looked a lot better in 2016 than many consolidated democracies.

Regarding the GDP, of course, we have a big historical discrepancy which cannot be overcome in a very short period of time, but which is not as big as it was 5 years ago or 10 years ago. I think we can safely say that Romania has a historical delay and has a hard time catching up but it now finds itself in the best situation possible in all its history.

So if we compare Romania now to its history and the Romanian democracy to other democracies right now, I am not pessimistic about it. On the contrary!

There’s another important thing about democracy:  Romania had the most tyrannical communist regime in the Eastern Europe apart from Albania. It seems that our memory on authoritarianism is still vivid enough to allow us to have the antidote and to be very precautious when it comes to such matters.

What about the backwards steps on democracy that are made nowadays in Romania? Say, the attempts of restricting abortions, these being one of the main gain after the communist fall?

During the communism abortions were forbidden and contraception was restricted, this lead to over 10.000 women who died trying to have ‘illegal’ abortions.

First of all, from my point of view, any kind of criminalization or other ways of taking away freedom of choice are paths to immorality. Because in the moment, in which the decision of having a child or not, no longer belongs to me but to the state (because they decided to do so), I won’t treat this as a moral dilemma but a default answer which was forcibly imposed upon me, mostly by people who will never even get pregnant because they are men. Secondly, I think that if somebody decides that a child is to be born, then they must also raise it. If this person x, this woman x made this decision, then she must take responsibility for it. If the state made this decision, the state must raise it, if the church made this decision, the church must raise it, if the husband forced her to have this child then the husband must raise it.

To sum up, it’s not an everyday decision. It’s not “Maricica killed her baby”, but “Maricica simply couldn’t take the responsibility of being a mother, with all the obligations deriving from that”. I think that in whatever society we find ourselves in, be it one that overcame such a trauma, like Romania did, or one that didn’t, the problem is the same: who takes responsibility? We know that most of those who have abortions come from social backgrounds that imply little or no access to sex education and contraceptive methods. You’re taking advantage of someone’s ignorance or state of poverty to force them to have a baby but what happens to it afterwards?

How do you explain the fact that there are these backwards steps? Is twenty years after this historical trauma forgotten?

Firstly, I think most people don’t know anything about this historical trauma. Younger generations don’t really do about it. For somebody who was born after the communist era, slavery, feudalism, and communism are the same. These are things that they learn about but which have nothing to do with their lives nowadays. Nothing! Maybe their parents have some memories of it. The probability of a parent, especially a mother or a grandmother, talk to their children about this trauma is pretty low because those who have lived it, and I don’t know how many from my generation got away from the absence of this trauma, purposefully forget in order to get away from their own emotional burden or they try to avoid burdening their children and grandchildren with their stories.

In school, nobody teaches them anything about daily life under the communist regime and what the consequences were. So how would they know? This trauma will be gone with my generation.

There’s another important factor: the fact that it becomes a general trend in the world, the spreading of this conservative populism. We can’t say it is yet extremist but it is a populist-right which hates everything that is feminism, civil rights, equal politics and everything involved. What do we expect? What can we expect in the future? It’s a worldwide trend!

Considering that the situation of women’s rights in Romania was heavily influenced by the policies of other countries, do you think that the international trend of populism could have a similar impact on the situation of women in Romania?

Yes, absolutely. But I also believe that great powers have come to accept a way of thinking which produced leaders like Trump and which revolts against the issue or equality and rights as also includes xenophobic and islamophobic elements. The pro-Trump movement is an anti-feminist, against civil freedom and equal treatment, anti-foreigners, anti-muslim, anti-jewish, anti-everything movement. This is thes “menu” of this movement.

If this movement becomes stronger by day in both Western and Eastern Europe – in this particular case, what happened in Poland – this means that we should be very worried about this. This also means that it is likely that we, the others, haven’t yet found the right ways to make ourselves understood. Thus, hostility against people like us is high because people don’t understand us.

But I think here one must proceed with a bit more wisdom when it comes to respecting the choice of others. If I choose to wear a veil to signify the fact that I am a woman and I should cover myself before God and I choose to be a religious woman and a housewife etc., you, a feminist, should respect my choice. Don’t despise and disrespect me! In the same way, if I want to be independent, creative, autonomous or a globetrotter, respect my choice. Don’t create coalitions which are against me. I think none of us has come to really respect the choice of others. This has been achieved nowhere. We’re treating those, who are not like us, like they’re retarded. As long as we don’t make peace and we can’t say “this is what you’ve chosen, I respect your choice”, how can I ask for the same thing from you? Contempt towards those who have not reached your stage of development, that is having rights seems to attract the hostility of others and this hostility, if in an unfavorable context, can become so aggressive as to cancel all the rights that were won.

Do you see the political transformations towards democracy as inevitable?

No, this was never continuous. There are times in history when the good parts of people are supported in order to prevail and to make people more cooperative and trusting and this is when we have democracy. And we have times when mistrust, suspiciousness and envy prevail and become institutionalized and this when we have far-right regimes or fundamentalist regimes. As humans, we are the same people as we were 4000 years ago or 2000 years ago or 1000 years ago. Social arrangements, social institutions support if one part of us or the other to prevail. These totalitarian regimes bring the worst of us to the surface: hate, envy, hard feelings, revenge, the will to strangle the others because they are not like you. Democratic regimes surface cooperation and tolerance.

Did gender policies have any impact on the everyday life of women?

I think they did but in a silent manner. Right now, we have a little bit over 20% women in the new Romanian Parliament compared to 11% in the previous. It’s quite a lot. I can relate this to the high pressure put, even inside the Parliament itself, for gender representation ratios even if the gender ratios weren’t legislated. There was a pressure higher than ever before, and during an electoral year and this made a difference. Parties had enough political wisdom not to keep monopolizing available parliamentary seats with men. Moreover, there are now ethical, professional, and legal instruments with which women can defend themselves if they are being discriminated and the possibility of legitimate protest when gender inequality becomes serious.

Was the voice of feminism heard in the mainstream after ‘89?

Well how would we have all these policies, how would equality of chances be a constitutional principle, how would there be laws for this, how would there be laws to protect you against domestic violence and sexual harassment if this voice wouldn’t have been heard?

It’s not like they were gift from someone, of course it was heard! It is clear than within the European Union we are dealing with many countries for which feminism is state policy and that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s the case of Romania as well. The problem is that we don’t really rush to apply the laws we have or we only do under high pressure and a kind of pressure that must be internal.

And the power pressurizing for gender equality is perceived as rather external?

It’s not external at all. If by “external” we understand the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council only for the time when Romania was not a member state and all this was part of the community acquis. After this, the pressure for this issue

The interview was edited and shortened. You can read the full transcript here: Interview on Transition with Mihaela Miroiu_Plural Bucharest.

Interview taken by Irina Ilisei in December 2016

Translation: Vlad Costea & Irina Ilisei

Contested Memories – or Where does Nostalgia Lead us?

The transition dialogues are about experiences and memories about the very recent  history. For Ukraine, the communist past is a taboo issue, only fragments appear on the surface, but trigger conflicts in families and entire regions. Clashing beliefs about the past are not new and and have become an obstacle to mutual understanding within society – as you can read from the voices below. We were diving into the see of thoughts of the Ukrainians about Soviet times.

Voices below are taken from are discussion on the eve of 2017 in the Kiev “Museum of Dreams” – a museum that is exploring how the dream meets reality in human life. Could there be a better place to talk about the time of change since the end of communism?

How to Remember Communism?

Tatyana (born 1957): Communism was only good because we were young

“It scares me speaking with people who are 20-30 years old, and they tell me how cool it was in the Soviet time, how lucky it was, not such a cannibalistic time. I studied in Leningrad, and went through Moscow [in the time after the end of communism]. And I remember I saw happy people on Gorky Street. […] And when I hear of this young nostalgia, I ask again: “Wait, you are 30 years, how do you know what it was like back then?” I had a conversation yesterday. And one woman told me, “I understand everything, I understand, but in that time I was young!” – “Of course, that’s great, but the youth does not return. Do you want to get back to those circumstances instead?”. So go back to youth, yes! But it would be good if there was also a thing like the internet back then (all laugh). Because now I can go to any museum, walk around any city online.”

Victoria (1981): Things would have changed anyway – with or without the Soviet Union

“But imagine if it was the Soviet Union, but with what we have now. Perhaps the Union would rethink itself as a country. We are simply different, as a whole […]. Perhaps the Union would now have the same challenges, the Union would also change.”

Victoria (1970): You were not at the elections in the Soviet Union.

Elena (1982): I remember – caviar, music. Everybody went to eat there.

Tetyana (1957): Suddenly election results depended on the people’s choice

After 1985 my  first impression – a congress of deputies. I was in Kherson and was walking along the Ushakov’s street. There were no mobile phones, but  small receivers, that shouted out to the whole Ushakov’s about the  candidates. People listened. They wanted change. Then they were all waiting. We then first realized that something now depends on us. We realized that the election would not be approved by a district committee member. It was great what happened that time. People listened and turned around.

We all love to believe in illusions

What would happen if people in 1914 would have been prepared for what would be in 1917? If people would have anticipated this terrible transformation [the tough time of revolution, shortage of food and civil war]? They probably also would have thought that this would be over eventually and all would be all well in the end. I also once had this illusion . Now I know that there is no stability – history never ends. Ludmyla spoke about absence of ideology. But there is a humanist ideology, we all believe in people. We all want a good world, warm and well for everybody. It’s also an ideology, but it is good.

Clashing values, clashing generations

During the discussion, a conflict evolved between two women – Victoria, born in 1970, and Ludmyla, born in 1981 – about the question, if there was a freedom of choice even in the Soviet Union. Was there really no choice in life (says the one born in 1970) or was it just convenient to deny the fact that there is more than one possible way to go (says the one born 1981).

Victoria (1970): “There are things that unite us with the European Union, but there are also our personal changes: changing of values, transition from paternalism to justice.”

Victoria (1980): “You talk about changes of values. What kind of values did Soviet people have?”

Victoria (1970): “First, this is Paternalism. The question of choice for them did not exist.”

Victoria (1980): “This is not a value.”

Tatiana (1957): “The value of the military communism and stability.”

Victoria (1970): “I mean the paradigm of paternalism. Nothing depended on you, they [Soviet power] could give something to you or not. You lived in set frames and they said that you should be comfortable within. This imposed value, which raised more than one generation. Now these people do not have these frames anymore and it’s not comfortable for them. For us however, the main sense is in that change. The more people accept free values, not the values of the Soviet Union, the faster our country will develop.

Ludmyla (1981): We did not just move out of a closed, capsular existence. We actually have changed the ideology [the whole framework of values, the political ideology]. I have no personal experience of living in the ideological space of the Soviet Union. I have not had time to put forward some unwelcome ideas that could be suppressed.  I was too young, just 9 years old. Now we can choose freely. Our mission is to carry this memory.  People are now developing a collective  consciousness [on the past] and this can be dangerous because it can be manipulated.. We must remind people how it really was. The only task I see for the transition generation is this explanation.

What also makes me angry is when people say, that the Soviet people had to act like they did because they grew up with these values. That people had no choice. That is not true! It was just convenient. And even now, people choose what is more convenient – no influence on policy, not affecting anything. This is perceived also normal.  This is a dangerous narrative: to tell people that they have no choice.

Victoria (1970) You have such a position, because you have not lived in that time. Today you said that at the age of  nine you did not have to make a choice. You just did not see that the scope of available information was so  very narrow, as you may not have been aware of the choices that you could theoretically have made.

The time of the 90s that you have experienced is a very different time. When you lived in Soviet Ukraine, you did not even know what was going on in other countries. There was no choice.

Ludmyla (1981) I think, that you just liked to live like that. Sit and wait that someone decides for you. It was comfortable for you.

Victoria (1970) You had no expectations, because you just lived in this system. You just didn’t know any other varieties of existence.

Tatyana (1957): Luda [Ludmyla], if you did not like the government and the system, you simply went to a psychiatrist.

(Ludmyla laughs) Yes, Luda, this is serious, you lived and you had to be happy, because how can a normal person do not like the Soviets? You were considered crazy if you did not like it.

Dividing Memories – on a Generation

For Ukraine, the issue of knowledge communist past is a taboo topic. While only fragments of the issue appear on the surface, it divides families and entire regions in conflict. Dealing with beliefs about the past has become an obstacle to mutual understanding within society. We therefore propose to dive into the thoughts of the Ukrainians about Soviet times.

This post collects thoughts, memories and statements taken from a discussion that took place on the eve of 2017 in the “Museum of Dreams” in Kiev that is exploring how dreams meet reality in human life.

The quotes explore the memory of communism as well as the time that succeeded communism and lasts until today: The time of transition. But what exactly is transition?

transit – an attempt of a #defintion

Transit – this is where you don’t stay long. A transit passage is something temporary, moving from one point to another. But the transition we speak about, is not temporary – it is the life that we live. Generally speaking, life is a constant transit, it moves from one state to another. But in some periods we move faster. [from many voices]

Tatiana (1982)

“I think transit should be considered through acceleration. Stability can’t be detected, we find it only in the memories. When we remember – we fix a certain time. Get a different decade of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s – very different Soviet times. We summarize these periods. This generalization suggests one thing – it’s time for respite. The analyze possible when you are not in action. When you’re in a revolutionary time – you do not analyze, you are acting. Transitiveness is the revolution and the education. Transition is not attributed to any generation. There were people who could spend five months on the novel by Tolstoy, do they believed that their time was changing? Do they felt so these changes?”

Talking about our #generation

Artem (1976): a broken generation

“We are a broken generation. I was 15 years old when it happened. In Germany it is about unification. But here we called this times – the collapse of the Union. […] My generation – it’s the guys who became the criminals of the 90s. We are the separate generation – a transit and broken one.

This is a generation whose socialization time, 14-16 years, coinciding with the collapse of values. In adolescence, there was a complete breakdown. We grew up on the values, believed in honest, fair, good. And suddenly we found ourselves in a vacuum. In this Nietzschean «nothing».

We are the generation who can self-sacrifice themselvs for those children who are growing up now. They grew up in other picture: independence, freedom, liberalism, access to information and so on. I felt very homeless. Of course, I tried to flip this feature to advantage: the ability of quickly re-education, a willingness to change. All of these events: Maydan and the war – for me it was very natural. I quickly found myself like a fish in the water. Therefore, I perceive us as a broken generation. At the front are lots of guys of my age and my generation […]. They try to protect the future and they think their lives were broken anyway. This generation is the core bone of the war with Russia now.”

Lyudmyla (1981): need to move

“We are really romantic generation. But if we see something stable, we for sure need to change it (smiling). Well, at least we move the furniture.”

Sergiy (1972): nothing special

“Wandering through our lives, we change the world. Generation change itself brings something new. Over the past 50 thousand years this happens. It is not right to say that this is some special generation of transition. The time change occurs every forty years, as global change of everything. Technical progress give the fast opportunity to share the information, your idea spreads by second. To check the information on social networks simply is not possible. And future generations will have to learn how to control and filter the information.”

Alexandra (1987): We can make a difference

“It reminds me of metamorphosis of a butterfly. […] I think that every generation is a cluster of individuals of a certain age and that creates the understanding of a “generation”. Living this metamorphosis is not a goal, no purpose or process. I feel that the metamorphosis happens faster: We have more faith that we can make a difference and a willingness to do something. Transit isn’t an understandable word, but it speaks about the process. This is a motion vector. That I’m going in this direction.”

Alexander (1987): At a t urning point

“I do not remember the Soviet Union. I want to change the world, I want to act. I constantly desire to do something, run forward. That turning point for country, I do not remember. Now we also are at such a turning point, maybe it would be analysed later. Now I just want to do.”

Stories of Change from Kyiv

For many in the Ukraine, the Chernobyl-disaster marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. Olena Pravilo from Congress of Cultural Activists talked to people, who were children back then, about the moment when they realised that everything started to change.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbEQZyKghGk&feature=youtu.be

Romania 27 years after: Minority Rights and the Issue of Education

Iulian Stoian is a dedicated human rights activist, advocating for vulnerable groups such as LGBT and Roma minorities. He worked for several prestigious organisations and institutions such as the Romanian National Agency for the Roma, Council of Europe, Open Society Foundation, National Democratic Institute. He has an in depth expertise as program manager, trainer and researcher in working on issues such as Social inclusion, Anti-Discrimination, Trafficking of Human Beings, Roma political participation.

The interview was shortened. You can read the full transcript here: Interview_Iulian Stoian_Transition and Minority Rights in Romania_2016.

Interview with Iulian Stoian by Irina Ilisei in December 2016, Translation: Vlad Costea

Let’s start with a personal question: What did the experience of the transition mean to you?

I was a fresh graduate after the Revolution, and to me the transition meant a series of major experiences to which I felt like a spectator and sometimes like a Guinea pig. These experiments have somehow influenced my professional path, but also my personal life.

When I say Guinea pig, I mean that I experienced almost all the possible changes that a  student could experience at the time, from the modifications to the legislative framework which, naturally, impacted us as subjects of education, but I also career-changing events. For example, I have always prepared myself, from the earliest school years, to become a chemistry teacher.

When I graduated in 1996, I realized that the social reality no longer reflects my childhood dreams. Just like me, a whole generation of teenagers has had this opportunity to look for a different path on the labour market, as well as in career and life.

Did you feel like you were a subject to a kind of experimentation in the society?

I’ve learned to take life for what it is since I was a child. I’ve learned to try to adapt to the new realities. And I can say that from this point of view I was quite privileged, in the sense that everything I’ve done in my life so far has been a part of what I wished and planned.

In the early 1990s, when I was close to my senior year in high-school, I had the chance to work for “Revista 22” [prestigious magazine on culture and politics] and that’s where I got in contact with what is called nowadays ‘the civil society’, with debates on democratic topics, on human rights, and it was then that I realized that the career that I was about to pursue was in the field of human rights.

We were all learning and breathing democracy, and we were all eager to learn about what this new paradigm Romania had become a part of really means: Romania’s transition towards a democratic state, one that puts human rights at the core of its actions.

How do you evaluate the evolution of human rights or the legislation on human rights? You practically were both a witness and a participant to this process of change.

I believe that the evolution of the human rights is an on-going process: it’s a learning process for us all as a society, regardless if you were born and educated during the communist regime, or if you were born in this post-1989 framework.

During these 26-27 years, there was a process of adapting the national legislation to various juridical systems Romania was aspiring to. For example, Romania’s ascension to the Council of Europe produced a series of changes to our legislative framework: we abolished death penalty, we abolished article 200 from the Penal Code which would bring penal charges for homosexuality, and so on.

Lots of such rights have been progressively adopted, but this came at the cost of not educating the population properly during the process. Practically, we were all a part of a learning process, learning by doing if you may.

Was the transition period a continuous progress in regards to human rights, or did it have its ups and downs?

In the field of human rights, I can say that it’s a continuous struggle. For instance, the fight against racism towards the Roma community. It has taken various forms from the cases of violence in the early 1990s – inter-ethnic violence and all the way to more subtle forms of racism which become more and more refined by the day. People learn to refine, if you may, the way they express racism.

In 2008, according to public opinion surveys, 8 out of 10 Romanians didn’t want to have neighbours who were members of the Roma community or the sexual minorities. In comparison, today the number has decreased to 6 or 7 Romanians out of 10 who declare themselves openly against these unpopular minorities.

In regards to these statistics, I don’t think that racism or homophobia have decreased too much, I do believe there is an influence regarding the self-censorship of survey respondents, because we have all learned that we shouldn’t say certain things when we are being interviewed about sensitive topics such as these unpopular minorities.

What do you think would be required in order to grow the majoritarian population’s acceptance in regards to ethnic and sexual minorities? What should be done in our society?

We should also get used to the idea that we all have rights and should benefit from them equally and equitably as citizens. The major fault, if you may, for this high degree of intolerance in Romania is given by the communist regime itself, which used to try by all means to remove every difference between social classes. That utopia of creating the new man who would fit perfectly in certain pre-determined patterns and in which we all had to fit to be accepted in society.

In terms of evolution, where do you think the transition started and ended?

I believe that the transition has started from the moment when the dictator’s helicopter has left the roof of the Romanian Communist Party from Bucharest, from the days of the Revolution when we all wished to be accepted by the international community, to become an occidental state like we used to see in movies and magazines when they would escape censorship… I think that’s when it began and transition still continues to this day.

Were measures undertaken in the early 90s to support human rights?

1993 Romania has adhered to the Council of Europe. I think that was, if you may, one of the milestones for our discussion: the fact that Romania has adopted a series of normative documents which came to consolidate the human rights dimension from the legislation, but also the efforts that we’ve made for the population to know and internalize these values. I think that was a first milestone. The next one, I think that was technically in January 2007, when Romania became a member of the European Union. We have the obligation, through our member state status, to respect and comply to all these laws.

Let’s talk about the adherence of human rights laws now that Romania is in the EU!

As a human rights activist, I knew from my colleagues from countries that once these human rights regulations are adopted, the state’s interest in human rights will decrease dramatically. It also happened in our case, in the sense that it was assumed that as we adopted all the legislation required for Romania, we would also respect it. In practice, things weren’t this way and they aren’t today either. The big problem we notice for years is the wrong application or the lack of application of this legislation.

I believe that here, what plays a big role is the fact that we don’t make sufficient efforts to inform the population, the economic agents, and the institutions about these topics of human rights. I think that the lack of sanctions – even when the infringements are obvious – encourages the others to think that this is the normal state of affairs.

Do you believe that civic education could improve knowledge and respect for human rights in the population, and also make the population empathize with the rights of minorities?

Civic education and education for citizenship should be, in my opinion, the central component of Romanian schools, not only because we have to catch up compared to other states that became EU members before us, but also given the fact that Romania has had one of the most oppressive dictatorships in the former Communist Bloc, and this supressed the civic spirit.

Therefore, citizens associate civic education with the kind of education they would receive before 1989: patriotic education, combined with lectures from the speeches of the former State Secretary of the Communist Party. Because I will say it again, those of us who lived in that period do not associate civic education with education for citizenship as something where you put human rights in the centre. Because, in essence, that’s what it’s about: the rights we all enjoy and we should apply and promote to the others.

Are there visible changes of mentality from a generation to the other, in regards to human rights?

To those who were about 45 years-old during the Revolution hang on to the values and norms they used to respect strictly in the past. So, we can safely affirm that the younger generation which was born after the Revolution is much more sensitive to subjects like human rights and minority rights.

However, I realized that at least in the case of my generation – the ones who graduated from high-school when the Revolution was taking place or were still in school at the time –  among university graduates a very hard to explain conservatism. A kind of conservatism which manifests itself through racism and homophobia, sexism, ultra-nationalism, maybe, and also anti-Semitism. These things come packaged together and can sometimes be discovered among people with an education that would surprize you.

Still, we’re heading towards an area where acceptance towards diversity is higher than what it used to be in the communist period or in the first few years after the Revolution. We enjoy free movement within the EU for quite some years and see what is and what isn’t done abroad, but also have access to information (television, internet) … we all enjoy the right to free expression and right to free information so that we learn about these topics on the go, while doing.

Did the transition period have an impact on the daily lives of people who are part of ethnic or sexual minorities?

Well, we have to make a little distinction: among ethnic minorities, for examples the Roma, there is this widespread perception, that the situation was much better before 1989 in terms of finding a job or having a decent housing, as well as the chance to study if there was a desire for it. Of course, all these things came with drawbacks and inconveniences, such as no right to free speech, to free assembly, or to speak or use the maternal language. There are pros and cons that somehow make the discussion a lot more difficult.

But in my perception, Roma people have been the big losers of the transition. They were the first to lose their jobs, the first to be pushed towards poverty, the first to sell their homes due to poverty, and lots of them have migrated to rural areas or poor urban ghettos. They were literally and practically marginalized from society.

On sexual minorities, I think that they have faced an improvement in terms of perception, for instance some weeks ago, they had a march against the Christian-conservative “Coaliția pentru Familie” (The Coalition for Family), the organization that wants to limit the right to equality for sexual minorities: the right to marriage or the recognition of family life, which is an universal right. We see an increasing number of young people who become sensitive to the problems of this minority and decide to participate actively to associative movements by signing petitions, taking part in marches, manifesting themselves on the internet in favour of human rights and diversity of every kind.

I need to add that also Roma enjoy new supplementary rights since 1989: education in the minority’s language, class on the language, civilization and history of the Roma, special spaces for the Roma youth in high-schools and universities, a series supporting services and professions such as sanitary mediators, or school counsellors who bridge the communities with the local administration.

But these jobs and facilities shouldn’t exist in a normal society because the local administration should be inclusive enough to be able to discuss with the citizens of Roma ethnicity in their language, but also deliver to them high-quality services that are comparable with the services the other citizens receive.

I would say, these jobs and these facilities are transitory. We need to understand that they exist to compensate for historic injustice.

What has civil society done to support minority rights?

After 1989 there was an explosion of forces that were trying to coagulate at the level of political parties, NGOs, foundations, to quickly improve the problems that existed in our society. I remember that at the time there were many functioning foundations and associations which attempted to help children from orphanages, and still it took quite some time.

Minorities of every kind have tried from the very beginning to express their identity. Since the first free elections we have a deputy in Parliament, who benefitted the Roma by coagulating a movement and the establishing an association that gathered together the members of the Roma community at the time.

Also, on the topic of sexual minorities, there were a series of social actors who worked in this area.

I have been involved in civil society, and Roma society, and the one supporting the rights of sexual minorities since the early 2000, and as an evolution I can say that we have had ups and downs. But we are much more prepared right now than we were in the early 1990s, when Romanians would only see certain realities for the first time.

Were people ready at the time? There was a lot of need for people that had the right kind of knowledge, were sensitive towards the issues, knew legal matters, but also had abilities to organize communities. You simply didn’t have all these things in the communist period.

It often happens that the civil society functions primarily on the foundation of good intentions: in the sense that maybe you weren’t the best prepared in a certain field: But if you had the particular interest to work in that area and you were the only one offering these services, then it was clear that those entities, associations, and foundations that were established and deliver services. It went on like this until the accession to the European Union, when it all began to be much more specialized and exchanges became easier to do. The quality of the services provided, however, is questionable. It was a learning process for all of us.

Transformation als Lebensschule

Ostdeutsche Frauen-Biographien als Reibungspunkte der Generationen

„In meinen Gesprächen habe ich immer wieder gemerkt: Da ist etwas, was es bei den Frauen im Westen Deutschlands noch nicht und im Osten Deutschlands noch immer gibt: das tief verinnerlichte Wissen, dass Arbeit Selbständigkeit verleiht, dass Kinder zum Leben dazugehören, dass es keine Schande ist, seine Kinder in Tageseinrichtungen betreuen zu lassen oder nach der Schule in den Hort zu schicken. Kurz: dass zur sozialen Frage immer auch die Frauenfrage gehört“ 

Dr. Judith C. Enders, Mandy Schulze

Die Frauen der „Dritten Generation Ostdeutschlands“, geboren zwischen 1975 und 1985, haben eine doppelte Sozialisation erlebt. Zum einen eine DDR-geprägte durch Eltern und Großeltern, welche den größten Teil ihres Lebens in der ehemaligen DDR verbracht haben. Zum anderen mussten sie sich abrupt in einem neuem Schul-, Ausbildungs-, Beschäftigungs-, ja Gesellschaftssystem zurechtzufinden.

Im medialen Diskurs taucht die dritte Generation kaum auf und wenn, dann sind es oft Beispiele gescheiterter Biografien. Dabei haben sie während des Transformationsprozesses einzigartige Kompetenzen erworben haben, die in vielen Bereichen der Arbeits- und Lebenswelt eine Bereicherung sein können.

Für diesen Artikel haben wir ausführliche Interviews mit 9 Frauen dieser Generation geführt. Die meisten von ihnen hatten für ein Studium ihre Heimat verlassen und waren entweder erwerbstätig oder auf der Suche nach einer passenden Tätigkeit.

Selbstverständlich Selbstständig

Die beruflichen Erwartungen waren das erste Thema, welche die jungen Frauen zwischen 25 und 35 Jahren ansprachen. Neben dem Thema Beruf und soziale Sicherheit, wurde das Verhältnis von Beruf und Mutterschaft bzw. Partnerschaft angesprochen. Sich beruflich zu verwirklichen und damit persönliche und finanzielle Selbständigkeit zu erlangen, beschreiben die befragten Frauen als Voraussetzung für eine gleichberechtigte Partnerschaft:

„Ich glaube in der Beziehung ist sehr, sehr wichtig, dass auch die Frau oder ich eben halt sehr selbstständig ist und da ihren eigenen, eigene Erlebnisse und Erfolgserlebnisse auch hat.“

Darüber hinaus ist dies aber auch Vorrausetzung für die Familiengründung. Wichtig ist bei allem ein ausgeglichenes Verhältnis zwischen diese Sphären: Der finanzielle Erfolg steht nicht im Mittelpunkt bei der Frage nach einem gelungenen Leben. „Ich denke auch, was wichtig ist, dass das Leben eine gewisse Balance hat. Dass man ausgelastet ist mit den Sachen, die man alltäglich tut, und damit halt am Ende eine Zufriedenheit erlangt und glücklich schlafen kann. (…) Ja, da braucht man halt auch nicht so viel Geld. Da ist das eher zweitrangig.“

Die Entscheidung, für die Familienarbeit als Hausfrau und Mutter seine beruflichen Interessen in Frage zu stellen, tauchte in keinem unserer Gespräche auf. Als typisch weiblich – und damit kaum anders als in anderen Regionen Deutschlands – ist hingegen die Bereitschaft zu bezeichnen, das Streben nach Karriere nicht in den Mittelpunkt persönlicher Verwirklichung zu stellen: „Als Führungskraft bin ich jetzt ausgebildet, habe einige Trainings gehabt, habe auch schon viel gecoacht und Leute gehabt, die ich dann inhaltlich und so beraten habe jetzt, aber das ist okay. Also, ja, ich muss diese Rolle nicht haben“. Ebenso als typisch ist es, zugunsten von Familie und Kindern auf Teile der Karriere zu verzichten. Kindererziehung wird als Aufgabe für Frauen aber nicht hinterfragt.

Das Erbe der „Schlüsselkinder“

Die befragten Frauen kamen oft an einen Punkt, an dem sie über ihre Eltern und deren Einfluss auf ihr Leben sprachen. Dabei standen deren Erfahrungen mit der Transformation im Vordergrund. Um dieses Erbe wird scheinbar noch gerungen. Die Sprachlosigkeit zwischen den Generationen wird bewusst problematisiert: „Meine Eltern sind geschieden, also zu meinem Vater hab ich jetzt nicht weiter groß Kontakt. Er ist halt aber das, was so ein typischer Wendeverlierer ist, was man sich darunter vorstellt. Weil es halt eben auch das für unsere Beziehung so schwer gemacht hat und weil mich dann auch immer …

“Also das Problem ist, dass man mit den Eltern nicht darüber reden kann.“

Die Auseinandersetzung mit der Elterngeneration spielt für die jungen Frauen aus dem Osten mit Kindern eine ebenso so große Rolle wie für alle anderen jungen Eltern: „Wenn du Kinder hast, dann spielst du deine eigene Kindheit ungewollt auch immer wieder durch.“ Die doppelte Sozialisation der Befragten in Ost und West spielt in der Auseinandersetzung mit der eigenen Kindheit jedoch eine besondere Rolle und wird zur innerfamiliären und gesellschaftspolitischen Herausforderung:

„So eine simple Frage wie: Sag mal, Mutti, wann hast denn du uns eigentlich immer abgeholt nach der Kita? (…) Und die ist total ausgetickt an dem Tag: Wir haben alle gearbeitet, wir konnten gar nicht anders!”

“Natürlich, wir haben euch um halb sieben hinbringen müssen, weil wir mussten um sieben Uhr auf Arbeit sein! Wir haben Vollzeit gearbeitet, und wir konnten nicht so schöne Sachen machen wie ihr jetzt, und so. Und dann in den 90ern auch: Ja, ihr wart nun mal Schlüsselkinder, und jetzt sagen sie immer Schlüsselkinder dazu, aber es war ganz normal, dass ihr den Schlüssel hattet und nach Hause gehen konntet, wann ihr wolltet. Man hat auch Vertrauen gehabt zu seinen Kindern, und jetzt wird man so [angesehen], als ob man sich nicht gekümmert hat so … .“

Wir müssen reden: über den Wert der Alltagserfahrung

Hier steht das kritisch gesehene Bild der Mutterschaft in der DDR, für das sich die jungen Großmütter glauben rechtfertigen zu müssen, einem echten Interesse der jungen Frauen, die ihren eigenen Platz in der Gesellschaft als Mütter suchen, entgegen. Eine junge Frau spricht allerdings klar aus, was es gesellschaftlich für eine konstruktive Auseinandersetzung und schöpferische Aufarbeitung der Transformationserfahrungen der Eltern braucht.

„Was ich finde, was absolut in diesem medialen Diskurs vernachlässigt wird, das sind so diese persönlichen Biografien, auch abgesehen von Knastgeschichten, mal hart gesagt, oder Fluchtversuchen, oder wie auch immer. Also ich finde so, diesen Mikrokosmos auch einer normalen Durchschnittsfamilie damals in der DDR, auch eben unserer Generation, das wird vollkommen vergessen irgendwie.

(…) Das ist unsere Kindheit, das kann man nicht ändern. Und es ist ja auch gut, wie es jetzt so gelaufen ist, dass die Wende kam, dass wir die Chance hatten, noch mal ganz neu anzufangen, ein anderes Leben zu führen, als unsere Eltern das konnten.

Aber der Diskurs fehlt, die Diskussion in der Öffentlichkeit, aber auch untereinander, dass man sich quasi bekennt dazu auch: Hey, wir teilen da was, wir haben irgendwie ein gemeinsames Fundament, warum reden wir nicht mal drüber?

Also sogenannte westdeutsche Freunde, die dann sagen: Ja, es war ein Stück Geschichte, aber hey, ist doch vorbei. Aber es ist ja noch da, es ist ja trotzdem präsent. Also meine Familiengeschichte prägt das bis heute. Viele Streitereien, viele Zerwürfnisse beruhen immer noch darauf, auf Vorwürfen auf ungeklärten Ereignissen, wie auch immer. Und ja, es wäre schade, das nicht irgendwie auch mal zum Anlass zu nehmen, darüber zu reden“. Oder mit den Worten Martina Rellins, die als westdeutsche Journalistin und Autorin ostdeutsche Frauen nach der Wende befragte:

„Auch in meinen Gesprächen für dieses Buch habe ich immer wieder gemerkt: Da ist etwas, was es bei den Frauen im Westen Deutschlands noch nicht und im Osten Deutschlands noch immer gibt: das tief verinnerlichte Wissen, dass Arbeit Selbständigkeit verleiht, dass Kinder zum Leben dazugehören, dass es keine Schande ist, seine Kinder in Tageseinrichtungen betreuen zu lassen oder nach der Schule in den Hort zu schicken. Kurz: dass zur sozialen Frage immer auch die Frauenfrage gehört“ (Rellin 2004: 11f).

Darum bleibt es wichtig, sich mit den Frauen der ehemaligen DDR und mit ihren alltäglichen Geschichten auseinanderzusetzen, im Gespräch zu bleiben. Gerade für die Frauen der Transformationsgeneration ist dies eine Chance, die eigenen Identität zu schärfen und sowohl die Stärken (Stichwort: weibliche Unabhängigkeit) als auch die Schwächen (Stichwort: Doppelbelastung) der Lebensentwürfe der DDR-Frauen kennenzulernen. Es gilt, medialen Zuschreibungen etwas „Reales“ entgegenzusetzen.