I have just binge-watched the German Netflix series Weissensee. In my view it is the best series since the German series Heimat (now also available on Netflix). The three series of Heimat are situated in the 1930s and 40s in Germany, showing the terribly consequences of when everyone attempts to conform to one set of political ideal and one set of ideal human type. Yielding to their fear. Fascism in a small village in Baiern.
Vaclav Havel: Attempt to live in Truth
Weissensee could be seen as a modern follow-up from this. Yet the latter three series are put in Ost-Berlin from 1980 untill 1990. It is the DDR-time and the circumstances of this Stazi-period are in several respects comparable to the Nazi time. Yet Weissensee has a young man and woman as their main characters who try to live in truth. Indeed, their story can be seen as a cinematic translation of the philosophic book, Power of the Powerless or with the more intruguing German title: Versuch in der Warhheit zu leben (1978) from the later Czeck prime minister Vaclav Havel.https://s3.amazonaws.com/Random_Public_Files/powerless.pdf It shows how extremely difficult it is to live in truth. It shows the braveness of these young people. But also that love and truth are the only important things in life.
Gender aspects in Weissensee
What makes Weissensee also intriguing and even more interesting than Vaclav Havel’s book is that the series also illuminates the gender aspects of the challenges of living in truth. Several times the series indicate how the DDR men are pressed to keep everything in control, not just at their work, in their social appearance, but also within their families. So the men are the ones been primarily assigned to control their wives and children to conform and to not speak the truth. The men also force their female partners to keep their children in control. When the men are absent in families as we see in examples, mothers are easily forced or lured in to help the Stazis out of fear for what will happen to their children. I will not reveal the plot. Just watch it: breath-taking!
Current city state control
After having watched this, I start to read the letters from my city government of Rotterdam with a new perspective. I see that several letters start with “We have been told that you are….” and and continue with “Would you please come to the office to ‘clarify this matter’?” The source is not indicated and the civil servants feel no need to tell me this. Or: ‘We are investigating whether you still have a right to ….. Would you please send us the following information and see us at the office to help us sorting this out?” Or also: “If you do not give us this information, this could have serious consequences”. I need to think of how to behave in these administrative control issues.
Challenge to live authentically in relationships
Finally, I see a great challenge following from Weissensee for all of us to try to live in truth, not only where it concerns politics or civil administration, but also in our relationships. How to live authentically, being ourselves and telling the truth, while not trying to harm the ones with whom we are in a relationship with. How extremely difficult is this! But what a great challenge! Love and truth are after all the only things really worth in life.