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Historian wants ban on communist uniforms

The Local · 27 Dec 2011, 15:00

Published: 27 Dec 2011 15:00 GMT+01:00

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“This is not only tasteless, but violates the dignity of the victims of this dictatorship,” Hubertus Knabe, the director of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, where the Stasi ran a huge prison, told the BZ newspaper this week.

“For years, we’ve been experiencing an increasingly careless way of dealing with the relics of the communist dictatorship in Germany,” he added.

Communist-era insignia has become increasingly chic in western Europe, where young people sometimes wear t-shirts or military caps with the infamous hammer and sickle.

In parts of Berlin, surplus East German military supplies are sold on the streets and street hawkers pose in old army uniforms for pictures with tourists.

But Knabe says the commercialization of the communist era is wrong and should be compared to idealizing the Nazis. In Germany, it is illegal to publicly display insignia like the swastika that are commonly associated with the Nazis.

Knabe told the BZ that there is no other country where “you can freely walk around on the street in the uniform of a fallen dictatorship.”

He said he would be calling on Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger to begin working on a ban.

Story continues below…

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:35 December 27, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
While it is true that both the Nazis and the German Democratic Republic were totalitarian regimes, let's not forget perspective here.

The Nazis were responsible for the death of six million Jews and started a war that left 45 million people dead, most German cities bombed out, and millions displaced. The East German communists may have ruled more than three times as long as the Nazis, and kept 17 million people suppressed, under constant surveillance, and denied them basic freedoms. That too was abominable, and anybody who unduly idealizes or glorifies communist East Germany, especially younger people who maybe weren't even alive while the GDR existed, should be made aware of what it meant for the people to be living in a totalitarian state for decades.

But in the end, although both were brutal totalitarian regimes, I don't think the two were even remotely the same. If you want to outlaw East German memorabilia, please do so, I don't care. But do it for the right reasons.
15:54 December 27, 2011 by raandy
Ban the use of DDR paraphernalia, what next? The list would be as endless and as foolish as the statement.
16:23 December 27, 2011 by Bavaria Mike
You can't ban history or the promotion of history! I doubt this history will repeat itself or rise again. What a simple mind.
16:44 December 27, 2011 by Eins Null
What a very silly little Knabe young Hubertus is. Having spent upwards of 21 years of my life, waiting for the Communists to invade, I really don't give a hang if someone wears a VoPo/GrePo uniform, as long as they're not in charge. Perhaps the very Green Herr Professor Doktor Knabe ought to go out and get a proper job, for the first time in his life.
16:44 December 27, 2011 by Wise Up!
If you¦#39;re going to ban the swastika, you might as well ban the hammer and sickle. The only difference between the 2 was the degree of success. This is the road go down when you start banning free thought, however repugnant it may be.
16:56 December 27, 2011 by derExDeutsche
While its true that both Communism and Naziism have called Germany its home, lets not forget perspective here.

While the DDR Regime(1949-1990) itself may be directly responsible for 'only' ka. 70,000 deaths. The DDRs Communist political paymasters in the USSR, fared a bit worse in their pursuit of Marxist Utopia. Estimates put the USSR Regime (1923-1987) body count at 60 MIllion. Not to mention the close to 75 Million deaths the Chinese have been responsible for. or the 4 Million in Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. or the 4 Million in Cambodia.

So, in short, any comparison of # of dead, the Nazi Regime (1933-1945) with estimates saying 6 Million in Concentration Camps, pales in comparison. That includes Jews, Roma, Russians, political dissidents, etc.

So, its stands to reason that if Nazi Paraphernalia is Banned in Germany, so should Communist Paraphernalia. But, I believe nothing should be banned, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
17:05 December 27, 2011 by chicagolive
In stead of worrying about banning everything they should try to give the youth something to identify to if not all that you have banned will be more attractive since the quote good parties are afraid to say they are proud to be German. Every person or group wants a identity and that is severely lacking here.
17:07 December 27, 2011 by Navigator_B
That guy is even more extreme than the old DDR regime if he wants to stop people from wearing what they want. Even the SED didn't ban the wearing of bourgeois or non-conformist clothing. 

He's also trivialising the Nazis and the holocaust if he thinks that the DDR should be treated the same. East Germany had a totalitarian one party state that didn't allow its own citizens much freedom, but Nazi Germany makes that look like paradise.
17:16 December 27, 2011 by derExDeutsche
@Navigator B

'He's also trivialising the Nazis and the holocaust if he thinks that the DDR should be treated the same.'

So under your reasoning, the Communists in the DDR aren't so bad. They are not responsible for the deaths of 60 million dead in the USSR. They had a different Uniform, and they can't be blamed.

In that case, Germany should just ban the Uniforms of Concentration Camp Guards, but all othe Nazi Uniforms, no problem.
17:40 December 27, 2011 by Navigator_B
DerExDeutsche, Communists in the DDR did not kill 60 million in the USSR. The Soviet Union occupied East Germany, not the other way round.
17:49 December 27, 2011 by 9900lawre
It is shame that this historic landmark cannot be seen for what it really is. A small checkpoint standing against the Red Army. In reality this checkpoint wouldn't have stood a chance against any attack if it were to come. The small man against the odds challenging oppression.

The deaths of many people by many different regeims is a shame in it's own too and should not be played down.

This and many other landmarks around the world have history. Some good, some bad, some forgotten. Not all of the peope who dress up for cash are trying to insult victims, Maybe some of them are part of the education process where people can be reminded never to forget. Not just one of history's wrong doings, but all of them.
17:50 December 27, 2011 by derExDeutsche
@Navigator B

Just as I said.
18:00 December 27, 2011 by lalomartins
Godwin's Law much... so because the communists were bad for people's freedom, let's take away people's freedom a bit more?
18:04 December 27, 2011 by storymann
derExDeutsche, exactly couldn't agree more.
18:04 December 27, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Uh. Oh. Godwin's Law, everybody. We can't talk about German ban's on Uniforms and mention Nazi's. The Words and Ideas Police are here again.
18:05 December 27, 2011 by carlm
Banning things one doesn't like or are controversial is a hallmark of a kommie. If anything should be banned it should be intolerant idiots like Hubertus Knabe.
20:26 December 27, 2011 by heyheyhey
If we really want to have an effect upon the world that would decrease or eliminate brutal human behavior and regimes, I vote for banning all human reproduction from now until the last of our abominable murderous species dies off.

Perhaps then at some time in the future, humanity will appear once more upon the earth, with a mindset that does not include harming others!

Humanity sucks, no matter how you slice it. We behave far worse than any animal species that I am aware of.
20:54 December 27, 2011 by carlm
heyheyhey, speak for yourself, creep.
20:55 December 27, 2011 by raandy
heyheyhey, It is what it is , you think you can change it?
22:50 December 27, 2011 by ChrisRea
Before talking about Communists, we should probably consider another organisation that behave intolerantly and barbarically and is responsible for the death of millions (and that happened before the Communists). It is of course about the Christian Church (Crusades, Inquisition etc). So, according to the logic of Mr. Knabe, the Christian Church should also be banned in Germany, isn't it?
00:31 December 28, 2011 by Jeffvm
Perhaps only ban tourists from taking pictures of the students trying to make a little money dressed up in old uniforms.
02:05 December 28, 2011 by Whipmanager
Our Friend Hubertus Knabe made a major mistake. You could wear any uniform in the US. Russian, Viet Cong, Nazi or Libyan...there is no rule saying you can't here. People don't do it because they know -for the most part, that it is rediculous to wear it and give tribute to such shameful regimes.
05:09 December 28, 2011 by heyheyhey

I speak the truth, and if that bothers you enough to be verbally abusive, then I have proven my point, haven't I?????

It is humanity such as you that refuses to acknowledge the truth.

Perhaps you should read more than the local. You might then understand my comments.

The issue is HUMANITY..........the inhumanity of man.
07:27 December 28, 2011 by Sastry.M
The difference between a horizontally growing animal and vertically growing human being is in the 'idea' of nature of growth. In animal both idea and growth coincide naturally and all animals live up to natural averaged age limit of any specified species unless external living circumstances create premature termination.

The vertical dispensation in human form, which is symbolic of natural creation, is meant to relate the existence of individual 'self' to the "Idea" of all phenomenal creation and ultimately realize the eternal truth of identity between the two to be one and the same. This is the 'idea' of Cartesian orthogonal axes system of scientific reckoning of natural phenomena. The highly evolved faculties of human mind with all its special and unique attributes and above all a freedom of choice of forming ideas and making decisions, accounts for all magnitudes destruction both willingly as well as unwittingly, when dogmatic faith and obstinate conviction overrule mutual democratic fairness and decent logical submission to truth.
08:40 December 28, 2011 by ICryForDeutschland
The human race is fine. It is the neanderthals that have been causing the wars, killing over 300 million humans, that we need to worry about. Of course they look like humans, but they are not.

It is neanderthal logic that says the Nazis were "responsible" for the allied bombing of civilians in Germany. By this same logic then, the neanderthals were responsible for their fabled genocide; the cambodians were responsible for theirs; etc. Idiotic "logic" to humans. But it is very common now.
12:03 December 28, 2011 by wood artist
I think a reasonable case can be made that there is a difference between the Nazi regime and the DDR. However, they do, unfortunately, share some common characteristics, and I certainly understand that some people are sensitive to seeing those uniforms around.

Like others, I would disagree with Herr Knabe that "there is no other country where ¦quot;you can freely walk around on the street in the uniform of a fallen dictatorship.¦quot; In fact, I could wear any uniform on the streets of cities in the US and almost no one would care. People wore NVA uniforms during the Vietnam era protests and little was said beyond the thoughts dealing with the protests themselves. People carried the NV flag.

More to the point, you could walk anywhere in the US wearing the uniform of the Confederate States of America, and nobody would protest. Technically we don't even ban the Confederate flag, which is pretty much analogous to the situation he's describing. I can't say you'd make many friends in the African American community, but it's not "illegal." Pretty much the same as wearing a Vopo uniform.

At some point we simply can't "wish away" history, especially if we want future generations to understand...and hopefully learn from our mistakes.

17:26 December 28, 2011 by TheChanger
Ironically I believe that initiating this ban brings the current German government closer to that which it seeks to ban. Regulating thought and choice are the tools of tyranny and dictatorship. Seeking to control which views are acceptable and forbid those that are unfavorable places the population at risk of losing the liberties the government claims to be protecting.

Instead of banning the ideas and objects, the goal should be education and understanding, not of the ideas and doctrines of the Nazis and other similar regimes, but of the circumstances and conditions that allowed them to be born and come to power.

For those that use these symbols and uniforms to intimidate or shock, these bans will only serve as fuel for the fire. Wearing their SS jackets and such will become even more of a status symbol and will create even more dogma for the government to fight.
18:19 December 28, 2011 by Illogicbuster
LOL! Banning natural human rights. PRICELESS!
12:39 December 29, 2011 by Englishted
Ban the Ban
21:55 December 29, 2011 by LairdKeir
I would like to invite Herr Knave to my classroom here in Bavaria:


08:45 December 30, 2011 by heyheyhey

Are you some crazy fuKKER? Have you never learned to speak? It appears that you are only capable of attempts to impress yourself with some ill conceived ideas of verbal prowess. I would bet that this is a compensation for a small wee wee! Just a guess.......
03:13 January 7, 2012 by Jeff10
First they came for those who made anti-semitic statements and I said nothing, b/c I wasn't an anti-semite. Then they came for those who made racist comments about blacks and I said nothing, b/c I wasn't a racist. Then they came for those who suspiciously never said anything and....I think that you readers get the picture.

Wake up, Europe. Do you want thought control? Do you Euro pols and elites really believe that the people are too stupid to hear certain views and opinions? Have any of you read Orwell's 'Animal Farm' and '1984'?

Thank goodness my German ancestors fled to the US in the 1860's.
10:59 January 9, 2012 by JohnnesKönig
"there is no other country where 'you can freely walk around on the street in the uniform of a fallen dictatorship.¦quot;

I guess he's never been to the USA...

Where you have the freedom to do even stupid things if you want!

Hubertus Knabe needs to re-insert his head in his hintern cavity where it will be heard by a more welcome audience.
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