East Germany as Presented in von Donnersmarck’s Film
The Lives of Others, a 2006 film released by Sony Pictures Classics, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and starred Ulrich Muhe, Martina Gedeck, and Sebastian Koch among others, dared to delve on the societal circumstances that were prevailing in East Germany during the middle part of the 1980’s. Here, several situations that border on human rights violations, in curtailing the desire of expressing one’s viewpoints and in attempting to change the social status quo are presented to reveal to the audience the actual societal paradigm that prevailed during the said era.
While it is clear that the Communist/Socialist block of East Germany then were acting for the very basic tenet of self preservation, it is also evident that in doing so, the entire East German society suffered greatly in their desire to change the existing system, as can be evidenced in the characters of Weisler, Dreyman, and Christa Sieland.
In the initial stages of the said film we witness firsthand Wiesler’s interpretation of the system’s workings, in terms of extracting either confession or information from sate prisoners, in his statement “A guilty prisoner becomes more calm and quiet. Or he cries…The best way to establish guilt or innocence is non-stop interrogation” (The Lives of Others). From this statement, we are made privy to the essential necessity of the state to impose certain level of human rights violation in its aim of ensuring the appropriate level of national security.
This is in total contradiction to the esteemed precept of human dignity, as edified in the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 2008, wherein it is clearly stated that “As long as a single human being is unable to express the highest potential of what it means to be human, all of our human rights are imperiled…It is learning about justice and empowering people in the process” (Brata Das 4-5).
Captain Weisler’s personal struggles as he is confronted with the realization of his life’s absence of any form of human affection serve as a focus of attention, especially when the conflict between the interests of the state, e. g. in the guise of media censorship for the sake of national security, is taken into consideration. Thus, his former perception of morality for the good of his country is abruptly altered into a more humane form of compassion towards his fellowmen. Likewise, Weisler seem to have realized the fallacy of his former principles that eventually led him to sacrifice his promising career as a military man just to fulfill his ardent longing for a more ethical manner of living.
Due to the severity of the measures being imposed by East Germany during those years, the artists had no recourse but to comply with the state-dictated decorum, be it in the theater, news media, entertainment, and in politics. It is a clear choice between conforming with the government’s dictates or finding yourself facing an indefinite career ban, such as with the case of director Albert Jerska, and even of being unjustly incarcerated.
Hence, the reality that was in existent in East Germany during that era cannot be accurately expressed by the artists, in fear of persecution from the government. However, apparently there are others who chose to oppose the severity of human rights violations and had made actual steps in letting the whole world know how inhumane the East German society truly was. This was the particular group that Dreyman became a part of, and from which his controversial if not damaging article had made its way to the West.
In a gist, although superficially the artists in East Germany refused to blatantly reveal the true scope of their society’s deficiencies through their works, inwardly they never lost the desire to someday change the system that has been plaguing their country. Works Cited Brata Das, S. Know Human Rights, Claim Human Rights. 28 Aug. 2008. 15 Years Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, Cambridge Strategies Inc. , Vienna Hofburg, Austria. 17 August 2010 <http://www. pdhre. org/satya-vienna15. pdf> The Lives of Others. Dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. 2006.Sample Essay of EduBirdie.com