Silence & Noise

June 16, 2010

While in Berlin, I attempted to listen to one of my awesomely created radio stations via Pandora.  However, an apologetic message flashed across the screen proclaiming that free radio streaming by way of Pandora was not an available option to the people of Germany.


Though my privileged experience of Pandora’s joys, and the subsequent denial of such advantage was not even an notable comparison of repression in the GDR or Nazi Germany, it did spark a stream of consciousness that, thankfully, I was able to connect to resistance movements within the GDR.


A community of subjects who complacently cooperate and offer obedience to a repressive regime, allow for the continuation of such a power.  Power assumed by governments can be seen as continuously rising from within the population, and that the psychological cooperation of the people is possibly more important to a government than authority assumed through force.

Cooperation is just as deadly and oppressive as force

If a government is based upon consent, authority, and obedience, the GDR was an example of a government containing similar holes to that of a worn, used, and abused bed sheet.  Many of the GDR’s citizens realized, as did the government, that the regime’s power lacked authority and cooperation.   Every government continues through the people’s consent.  Authority may come, however, from the people’s unwillingness to pay the price for the refusal of consent – torture, spying, or death.  The non-violent resistance movements found during the time of the GDR were amazing examples of how civil disobedience and non-compliance can have profound effects on political powers.  The people who endured this movement, realized the command that organization and resistance will have if continued.  They also recognized that, as Gandhi would praise, that the means and path to freedom are equal to the end.  As the means, so the end – in other words – a violent revolution would have created a mirroring conclusion.  Non-violent revolution granted the people of the GDR the opportunity to exist in the society they chose to offer their consent to.

Most importantly, the people endured and refused to remain Silent.


Non-violent protests in East Berlin

The resistance movements succeeded by controlling the GDR’s power.  They organized in churches, creatively spread revolutionary rhetoric through art and the spoken and written word, and more importantly maintained their disobedience while facing the repression of torturous Stasi, and the fear of exposure by loved ones.

Zionskirche - Site of Resistance Organziation

The people resisting the SED succeeded because they continued with an organized resistance, engaging in a strategy of action that was persistent against repression, and by understanding that without the widespread psychological support, the regime could not subsist.

They did not remain Silent.

They created Noise.


The open air exhibit in Alexander Platz marking the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, “Peaceful Revolution 1989/90” was powerful in commemorating and displaying the successful result of a long-endured peaceful resistance against the GDR & SED.  The exhibit displayed the importance of art – whether it be brush strokes of color, dramatic interpretations of actors, or the spoken or written word – is its ability to motivate and move the masses related to the resistance.  It also became its own work of art in displaying the impact that non-violent resistance can have when it is organized and refuses to submit to the force and power of fear.

“We have to think about the question of power and how power can be controlled.” Marianne Birthler (Initiative Peace and Human Rights)

The resistance movements of the GDR did not remain silent in terms of obedience and cooperation.  Instead, they used the conduit of understanding their own power, and used it to create their own even more powerful wall against the SED’s repression.

And their Noise prevailed.

Non-Violent Revolution: November 4, 1989

One comment

  1. Not sure about the intro. What is Pandora and how is it related to the topic?

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