Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comparing Soviet East Germany to Islamic Republic of Iran

by Julie Jigsawnovich

I hope Iran does not regress to a level of paranoia and repression of free speech similar to what I saw in East Berlin when it was Soviet occupied.

Punk bands in East Berlin could not even risk practicing in soundproofed rooms--they had to play without amplification, recording and listening to their music with headphones. The Stassi spy organization was the biggest employer in East Berlin. They tried to get everyone to spy on each other, to drive rebellious people to alcoholism and suicide. There were no rallies, no chants in the streets. Bright colors other than red were suspect. No Western magazines were allowed. I had a teen fashion and music magazine with me when I was going through a West to East Berlin checkpoint and the guard seized it as "Capitalist propaganda". 

The Lives of Others
Later, East Germans explained to me that some of them wanted to blame crimes committed under the Third Reich on it's abandonment of socialism in favor of capitalism (even though not just the Soviets, but the capitalist Western allies defeated the Third Reich). This shifting of blame as a mechanism for dealing with Third Reich karma may have made some East Germans more compliant to the Soviet doctrine.

As I see it, the Iranian people do not have a heavy karmic burden--it's the gestapo-like IRI security forces who are cracking down on them who do.  How will former IRI security force members who still have a conscience cope with it later, if the coup regime fails?

I don't know the history of East Germany well enough to know whether the numbers of tortures and murders by the DDR were comparable to those being committed in the IRI. But the psychological repression in East Germany was so overwhelming at the time that I people seemed afraid to visibly protest. 

This is a sharp contrast to Iran where street protests are still going on, regardless of tear gas, electric shock clubs, swords, and live ammunition being used against protesters in addition to the potential for detainment, imprisonment, torture and execution. Are Iranians more strong-willed than the East Germans were in the face of their oppressors, or does Islamic martyr culture play a part?

Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for HimIran has shown pride for scientific accomplishments by their female scientists. But Ahmadinejad has shut down most independent press in Iran. And seizing Iranians' passports to prevent them from traveling outside the country is a frequent practice. 

The Soviet Union encouraged the advancement of women in highly-skilled professions, including space exploration. But the Soviets became obsessed with keeping extreme control over everyone. The lack of free speech, lack of freedom for their citizens to travel, and other things lead to the "baby being thrown out with the bathwater."   

Stalin had thousands of people executed and put on show trials similar to those being held in the IRI. And Russia reportedly recently trained Iranian security forces in how to put down protests. Perhaps this is part of the reason that chants of "Death to Russia" threaten to replace the old standbys.

No comments:

Post a Comment