At the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall Wolf Bierman, a famous songwriter and harsh critic of the former East German regine, was invited to speak to the German Bundestag.
Instead of singing, Biermann addressed a few words towards Bundestags President Norbert Lammert: “Mr. Lammert, I am glad that you lured me here. And as I know you to have a sarcastic sense of humor, I already have some idea that you were hoping that I would take a few jabs at Die Linken (the far-left political party made up of primarily former East German communists), but this I cannot deliver. I my career as a dragon slayer is over.”
Lammert: “I too can help you, Mr. Biermann, with a tip about our house rules. As soon as you run for office in the German Bundestag and are elected, then you may speak here. Today you were invited to sing.“
Biermann: “Yes, but of course I did not accept keeping my mouth shut in former East Germany, and I certainly will not do so here. A dragon slayer cannot bravely take down the remaining hoard of dragons in one fell swoop. You have been beaten. [light applause] And for me it is punishment enough that you must sit here. […] And so you are all destined to sit here and tolerate this, and I will indulge you. […] I know that those who sit here are the pathetic remnants of that which has fortunately been conquered, and I am happy to be able to sing a song here “The Encouragement“. […] I altered you with those songs while you were all still in power.“
A time for celebration. The opportunity to celebrate the reunification of Germany. A few nice words. Words of reconciliation, perhaps. But they missed their mark. Even in such a moment it continued to be important to Biermann to remain critical and to criticize; to not let himself be ‘lulled into’. Showing bravery in the face of controversy.