Germany – the formative years

I grew up in a small village in Germany and we had no books in the house, other than a couple of Konsalik novels (that no one read) and a Family Health Book with pictures and descriptions of illnesses and diseases and what to do about them.

Where I went to school was quite a touristy region. It looked a little bit like this:


What is good about coming of age in Germany?

I think the wall coming down in 1989 imprinted on me that change is possible, and that chaos creates the conditions for acceleration. The 90s were good too, with a strong alternative scene (non-commercial punk and hardcore bands, squats, solidarity, marches against Neonazis, and so on), and a sense that things were going to get better for all (once the SPD took power in 1998). Germany’s role within Europe is schizophrenic. On the one hand, we are responsible for mass genocide (and were one of the first to use propaganda as a weapon), on the other, we now are a ‘good nation’, sat in the middle of Europe and (economically) one of its success stories.

I never thought much about the bigger picture economy and politics when I was younger. It was more general stuff, being oppressed ‘by the state’ and parents / authorities, marching against Nazis. Loving the world, even while angry about it and feeling raw on the inside.

The best thing about Germany was the rules. Breaking them (when they were too oppressive) and following them (where they made sense). Being taught how to make up my own mind, learning how to think. For free!