Auferstanden aus Ruinen
Und der Zukunft zugewandt
Lass uns dir zum Guten dienen
Deutschland einig Vaterland.

These are the first four lines of a national anthem, penned in 1949 by the German writer Johannes R. Becher, an expressionist before this poem and a minister of censorship after.

Risen out from the ruins
And facing futureward
Let us serve your good
Germany, united land

I learned this first verse in elementary school. Even its clever melody I could  sing. A few years later, the apparatchiks, who failed to govern the people of the country of superlatives – the tiniest, the huffiest, and the greatest German Democratic Republic of this world – banned their state’s anthem. Only the words. The music played often at olympic games or when the flag was raised or when other old men in grey suits or fantasy uniform came to visit. That’s what they called news on TV until 1989. While many were not listening, they erased notices from the news, the hymns from handbooks, and buildings from boulevards. Why? Maybe, they could not forgive the failures of their past. Maybe, they wanted children to reside in their ruins. Maybe. But it was not the line with the ruins, which made them obliterate the words. They did not want to be united. With nobody. 

And yes, the prompt for this little writing exercise was Ruins. And you will find other such exercises under Just texts.

2 thoughts on “Ruins

  1. It must’ve been interesting to have grown up in East Germany. I took German in high school but have forgotten it all… except ausgeseichnit which is an excellent sounding word!

    Liked by 1 person

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