Posts Tagged ‘SED


Torstrasse 1


The last time we flew to Berlin I snapped up this book at the airport…there’s nothing I like as much as the avant-gout of a city in a novel while approaching towards it…the beauty of not travelling by car and being able to indulge in reading while travelling.

When in Berlin, on the Saturday we ventured to Mitte, as we had not been in the Kiez since a few months. The perfect occasion for going and checking the real-life building of Torstrasse 1. Now called Soho House, an hotel for members only or for hipsters only. We indulged in the worst espresso the city could offer in the ground floor very hip store, only to take in a bit the sheer size and majesty of this building.

Once so democratic, a Kaufhaus where anyone could buy on credit, the first ever in town, now transformed in a symbol of hipness. Sad, but these old bones will see yet another story, one day Soho House will no longer be hip and who knows, maybe it will become a giant bookstore. This is my secret hope…



Anna in Stasiland


Stasiland, an incredible book by Anna Funder. The italian translation is very good, pity only for the title “C’era una volta la DDR”, which sounds a bit silly, actually.

Funder starts in a casual way to ask people how things were during the DDR years, and she ends up conducting a very intriguing reportage.

Beyond stereotypes and beyond Ostalgie, “between Kafka and Monty Python” Funder contacts victims of the regime and former Stasi officers, Mitarbeiters and talking heads. She visits the places were citizens were detained and subject to police interrogations. She smells the stale air of these rooms, where the odour of terrified people, dossiers, senile power and outright paranoia still lingers.

For 10 years the letters that my DDR penpals and I were writing each other were intercepted, opened with special W-shaped steam devices, read, copied and filed.

My friend Michael went up to the Archive and got the letters, just after the fall of the Wall. Just like those people you see in the film “The lives of others”. Just like the protagonists of Anna Funder’s reportage.

We were teenagers and loved Duran Duran. We were discovering Madonna. I worshipped Radio Caroline, we met over Radio Free Europe.

My friends in Brandenburg and Saxony were longing for freedom. They travelled a lot across the Socialist countries. We had freedom in Triest, but I had never travelled. Freedom meant different things for us.

I wonder if I can go there, and feel the blow, of seeing my letters in a file, imagine them through the eyes of a Stasi zealous Mitarbeiter, filed and numbered, in a box. I have the sinister impression that somewhere, someone knew a lot about me.


mediaset, or der schwarze kanal (italian style)


I’m reading Anna Funder’s Stasiland and it’s very enlightening. My DDR penpals never bothered to describe this TV program, der schwarze Kanal, probably because like millions of other DDR citizens, they switched off the TV-set on Mondays and wrote letters instead.


Well, now that I discovered the content of this program I must say it’s a familiar feeling. I realize that I have at least 3 schwarze Kanal on my non-flat, beer-bellied TV set: Canale 5, Rete4 and Italia1.

The real McCoy schwarze Kanal is the illegal Rete4 network, in particular the Telegiornale of Emilio Fede, the novel Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler. Here Fede in a schwarze Kanal top performance, producing his brand of murky innuendo on Roberto Saviano.

Of course Fede is kein Stasi bureaucrat, quite to the contrary he embodies the quintessential Berluscones style. Nice suits, hyperrealistic tan, slimy rictus, oily and obsequious. The PM’s running dog.

Rete4, but also Canale5 and Italia1 offer on top their schwarze Kanal their share of  female buttocks nervously-shaken in silly sexed-up dances, very different from the DDR’s chastened and sanitized Lipsi dance.

We also have U-boot schwarze Kanal inside RAI1 and RAI2: the telegiornale. And the newspapers! But the rationale of the schwarze Kanal Made in Italy is the same of the DDR. Trying to keep the information outside, and when they can’t, shout at it.

Basically RAI 3 plays the ARD role. Everything said by RAI3’s Milena Gabbanelli, RAI2’s Michele Santoro, Sergio Ruotolo and Marco Travaglio, is attacked by the schwarze Kanal. Or even the strips of Vauro, who was censored last week.


The Stasi created the first pioneering derivatives of the news programs with the schwarze Kanal. Italy created a real subprime flourishing derivative market of information sewers.

A friend told me yesterday he only watches the news on Al Jazeera. Sign of the times.

The funny thing is, The Guardian online edition now has italian politics articles in italian…will Il Giornale o Il Foglio start to write in french against Le Monde, in english against The Economist?

Goodnight from the Divided City…(yes, on top of everything we’ve got also Popetown, something that the DDR tried to copy, but couldn’t match!)

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