What a remarkable media landscape Germany offers to readers accustomed to the impoverished offerings available in the United States! Within the last week or so, a number of leading newspapers in Germany -- among them the Frankfurter Rundschau, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung -- have carried a series of articles detailing the controversy surrounding the interpretation of a poem. A poem!
The poem in question is Volker Braun's "The Wall." Last week, Gert Loschütz published an article in the FR, "The child of whose spirit," in which Loschütz takes Braun to task for, in Loschütz's reading of the poem, having defended the Berlin Wall. Braun published a curt response on the 27th of January, also in the FR. Today, the FR has published a further response by Loschütz to Braun's rejoinder. (Did you follow that?)
Despite the fact that Loschütz has spilled far more ink in defense of his reading, it seems clear to me that Braun's interpretation is the more plausible -- and interesting -- of the two. As Braun notes in his defense, Loschütz fails to appreciate the antipodal structure of the poem; what Braun himself insufficiently emphasizes is that the "we" who are not to blame are clearly not the GDR government, but rather the citizens of both cities with the same name, caught, playthings in the superpower struggle, like blind chickens in the muzzle sights of the armies of East and West.