“I’ve been looking for Freedom”

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”

―    Mahatma Gandhi

Independence Day in the USA this week and the theme here on 4F1H is “Your thoughts about living in a free nation”

Okay, I have to admit, in my head, the 4th of July is connected with Mum’s friend’s birthday and when it comes to “Independence Day” I think of the movie, which btw, was produced and directed by a German. Don’t blame ‘us’ for the result, though.

This week’s topic is a bit of an iffy one. Have I lived or do I live in a free nation?

At the tender age of 16, my teacher took our class to former East Germany and it was quite an eye opener. In a scary way as well. The constant checking of the bus, the constant presence if the police and the “chosen” school students we were allowed to talk to. As I said, at 16 it was quite overwhelming, but having said that, two of my very best friends grew up in former East Germany and always tell me it wasn’t all that bad! They didn’t have chocolate, or magazines, or cars the way we had it, but life was still good. And hey, isn’t that the most important thing! Anyway, it made me appreciate my “free” life and our possibilities in the western part of Germany even more.

So back to the “free nation” bit. I grew up in West Germany and quite a few people aren’t aware of the fact, that West Germany wasn’t really a “free nation”. Wikipedia summed it up quite nicely:

The Federal Republic of Germany was established from eleven states formed in the three Allied Zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom Berlin Walland France (the “Western Zones”). Its population grown from roughly 51 million in 1950 to more than 63 million in 1990. The city of Bonn was its provisional capital city. The fourth Allied occupation zone (the East Zone, or Ostzone) was held by the Soviet Union. The parts of this zone lying east of the Oder-Neisse were in fact annexed by the Soviet Union and communist Poland; the remaining central part around Berlin became the communist German Democratic Republic (abbreviated GDR; in German Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) with its de facto capital in East Berlin. As a result, West Germany had a territory about half the size of the interwar democratic Weimar Republic.

American soldiers were a constant sight on our streets in our town. Mum reckons it wasn’t that bad, but it kind of left a sour taste with me.

As for Australia? I’m not sure. Is Australia a free nation? After all, Australia still belongs to the Commonwealth and has Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. I wonder whether any of my Aussie friends can help me out here.

BUT … I truly can’t finish today’s post without mentioning “The Hoff”. Right? I mean, after all, doesn’t he symbolise the “Reunification of Germany”? A lot of people give Germans a hard time regarding this song. Okay, I don’t like it either and find “the Hoff” tacky. But, people in East Germany fought long and hard (and looked) “for freedom” and probably (this is really IMHO!) the song just stood for everything they felt during those weeks and months. So stop laughing and put yourself in their shoes!

“I’ve been looking for freedom…..” Eeek …. now I’ve got that song in my head!

Quick, tell me about your “Independence Day” and what you think of it.

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About Iris B

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio
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15 Responses to “I’ve been looking for Freedom”

  1. Lily Malone says:

    Hi Iris
    Interesting post! I don’t mind The Hoff by the way… he is what he is.
    For me the connotation with Independence Day is a Bruce Springsteen song by the same name – the most brilliant song. (Love Springsteen).
    Now I might have this a bit wrong because history isn’t my strong suit… but I feel like I remember that late 1989 was when the Berlin Wall came down? And I *think* I was in the UK at the time. Or otherwise shortly before or after and the issues of Europe (which seem a long way away from a teenager in Australia) suddenly felt much ‘larger’ once I was over in London.
    Otherwise, my recollections of East v West Germany are mostly to do with the East German athletes in the 80s and the drug taking (sorry) and that type of thing. I have been to Munich only to interconnect with another train, but not spent any more time in Germany.
    Yes, I think Australia is a free nation, but I don’t think all Aussies appreciate just what a great lifestyle we have here.
    Cheers,
    Lily M

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    • Iris B says:

      Great Feedback, Lily …. have to utube the Springsteen song. I’m not familiar with most of his songs (sorryy 😦 ) … yes 1989 it was when the wall came down. Vividly remember being glued to the tv … and yes, I can understand that your recollections re Germany is mostly the drug issues.
      And – I obviously agree …. We have a great life here. That’s why I’m here and not “over there” 😉

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  2. A friend of mine is a History teacher. His father gave him a piece of the Berlin Wall and he brings it in for his class to see. I don’t really remember that part in History, I was pretty young and didn’t really know much about the news–in fact, I probably avoided it. At that time, my family didn’t have a TV (yes, *gasp* I grew up without a TV until I was about 12!)

    My family is part German. My mother lived their for a while when she was in college. My younger brother did the same thing. My older brother lived and worked there for a while. I’ve never been, but I hear parts of it are really pretty. My mom makes Sauerbraughten–she found a recipe that she says tastes like how her German “mother” made it. It’s so good. One of my brothers-in-law tries to take off from work for Sauerbraughten day and my siblings get jealous when they miss it. My husband never turns down my mom’s Sauerbraughten. Dad sometimes bakes Stollen, but I don’t like candied fruits that he puts in it. He tells me without it it’s not really Stollen.

    My mom and younger brother speak German. I’ve picked up a few easy phrases here and there, but I don’t really know much. I wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation really. It’s a rough-sounding language–you can be saying “I love you” and it sounds like an insult LOL. But I like knowing something because of some of my ancestors being from there.

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    • Iris B says:

      LOL – I agree! A lot of people ask me why I don’t write books in German as well, and I always say, “Ich liebe dich” doesn’t have the same sound to it like in English. It is a very hard-sounding language indeed.
      I’ve got to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever had Sauerbraten, but there are many other German dishes I desperately miss. Mum always gets a big list when we go and visit her, she complains she spends more time in the kitchen than with the grandchildren. Lol
      Hope you make it to Germany one day …. it is beautiful. And as they say, you appreciate something even more when you haven’t got it any more – that’s the case with me. I miss Germany and everything associated with it!
      Thanks for stopping by, much appreciated!

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      • No problem, Iris. I really enjoyed your post. I sent the link in an email to my Dad because I thought he’d find it interesting and I posted the link on my Author Facebook Page. It’s fascinating to see where people come from. Best wishes to you. 🙂

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      • Iris B says:

        Thanks for forwarding the post …. I hope you Dad will find it interesting, indeed.

        Like

  3. jeff7salter says:

    I’ve often wondered about Australia — which (as I understand it) has it’s own prime minister and parliament and laws. Yet, has historic and current ties to the British crown. It certainly seems, to me (informed mainly by movies), that “down under” is very much its own place / culture / people.
    It’s certainly a country I’ve long wanted to visit, even before I discovered friends there!

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      Oh, Jeff, Australians -IMHO- are nothing like the British, and I don’t say that in a bad way. I think the environment (country, weather, distance to other countries) just shaped Aussies to what they are … brilliant bunch of people.
      As for the C’wealth issue. There are Australians who say it’s time to cut the ties, but then are those who don’t. From vague memory there was a referendum years and years back. It’s was just ridiculous the nonsense people were told … It was close to a tie, but -obviously- Australians voted “for” the Queen.

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  4. I was very young but I lived in the Washington,DC area so it was a BIG DEAL when the Berlin Wall was built and when it closed…it was all anyone was talking about on the news and a number of adult conversations around me,(even though my family was rather non-political). I had a child’s mixed idea, trying to figure out the differences between the Wall with the so-called Iron Curtain!
    I also heard from former East Germans that it had not been bad for them. Many ,I believe, played it up to be harder for sympathy and to make themselves appear heroic. I have also heard about the toll the ever-presence of American military and the lingering stereotypes the “War” movies had on the German people in general.It was never fair.
    As for here, we are in grave danger of losing many freedoms.Many we already have, and people don’t realize it; fear has led people to believe that taking away their rights is a way to keep them safe.More infringements are coming from misnamed measures that are misleading people to believe it is for their benefit. I’m afraid society will have to learn the hard way…I hope it can be fixed when it happens.
    (I have no idea why Australia has any allegiance to Britain, to be honest!)

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    • Iris B says:

      I agree … freedom is not “just” living in a “free” country, but also the freedom to have certain rights. Good point, Tonette.
      the wall was built “before” my time. I just grew up with it. I heard stories about families separated, but we lived too far west to be affected by it.
      As for you last sentence … it’s beyond me as well 😉

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  5. Sherry Gloag says:

    I enjoyed your post, very thought provoking.

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  6. Very interesting post. My father always insisted we lived in the best nation in the world, even though this nation incarcerated thousands of people of his nationality during WWII (his family was spared that, because they were the only Japanese people in the state, but they were basically under house arrest, and were always followed). He instilled a pride in us for where we lived, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I met people who questioned the actions of our government. So the Fourth of July was always a time of celebration in our house, even though we usually just lit sparklers and ran around the yard laughing until they went out. I think freedom, to a great extent, is basically the ability to be happy with what we have.

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    • Iris B says:

      I like your thinking of being happy with what you’ve got … the next generation doesn’t understand that I think, because they get thrown new and better things at them all the time!
      Interesting to have your perspective from yet another nationality as well. Thanks Patty!

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  7. Fascinating reply,Patricia.The internment of Japanese-Americans is a blotch on the history of the U.S.
    When we lived in Colorado , It was brought to our attention that although each state was allowed two statues of prominent citizens, Colorado only had one.They asked for public opinion on the second.Many people,(including me), voted for Governor Carr, who refused to disgrace Colorado’s citizens of Japanese descent and deny them their rights to freedom.
    (The decided to place a statue of a the first woman physician.)

    Like

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