20 Jan Das Letzte Jahr
“Das letzte Jahr”, German for “the last year” does not refer to our last year 2020, which is fortunate because we already have had enough of that. The year meant is 1990, a rather important year in Germany because it was the year in which the reunification of West and East Germany was hastily accomplished. And yet it fell into a collective oblivion. Everyone remembers 1989, when we danced on the Wall. But 1990 seems too scattered to grasp.
The author Martin Gross tried at the time. He had an intuition of the significance of the year that marked the downfall and reshaping of the country. He lived in the GDR for a year and described how people made the transition from the old to the new system. He portrayed people as diverse as the guard of a former Stasi prison, the store manager of one of the new supermarkets, the stokers of a power station, the bodyguards of a minister and the cleaners of a government building.
The book was first published in 1992, but soon fell into oblivion. In 2019, Jan Wenzel came across it while researching for his book “Uncovering 1990” and took many of its notes. With a distance of 30 years, these notes were now perceived by critics as “clear-sighted”, “precise”, “stylistically brilliant” observations of the turning year. But the author himself could not be found. Fortunately, contact was finally made in June 2020 and a new edition of the title was planned.
And so here it is again, a book that describes a historical event, but not through political steps, but through the impact it had on people’s daily lives.