What is it like to live in a country where everyone suffers from cognitive dissonance?
Maxim Leo’s 250 page obituary to East Germany is the story of a nation reflected in his own family’s history. His grandparents who enthusiastically embraced the post-Nazi possibilities and Communist ideals; his parents who started to have misgivings about the supposedly anti-fascist State Party which actually behaved in increasingly fascist ways; and Maxim who is bemused about why anyone thinks the GDR is working when it palpably is not, on pretty much any measure.
When a 10 year old boy spots the rottenness of the system, the game is surely up. And so, as an extended psychological experiment, it was in retrospect doomed to failure within three generations, as Maxim observes.
There are no real monsters in the book, other than distant senior party officials or Nazi war criminals. The adults in Maxim’s world just have to adapt to their growing awareness that reality and political idealism are not the same thing. So they all have to play their own mind-games: a little lie to the children here, a little omission of the truth there, and always always acquiescence for a quiet » Continue Reading.