Now look at Schalke! What East German Gregor Sander thinks about Gelsenkirchen and the West

aAlcohol, as the saying goes, is a drug of truth. If you’ve had enough and stand in front of Konnopke’s legendary podium in East Berlin, you’ll think of the bad plan Schlüppi, friend of writer Gregor Sander’s, had: he, Gregor must go to the West. revenge.

The thirtieth birthday of a united Germany is approaching. Gregor, Chlupy and his comrades already suspect that the media will only stare at the still somehow “new” federal states, which are over-described but underrepresented socially.

Which is why when Gregor asked why he did it, Schlube revealed the truth: “Because those from the West have been describing us, filming us, and watching us non-stop for thirty years. They have smothered us and turned us like schnitzels in a frying pan and still don’t understand a thing! Now is the time to look back.” .

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It must be said that Gregor Sander is already there. He can, as he showed in novels, in great stories, look great. This results in the literature of unconditional truth.

Schlube’s command of revenge fell upon fertile ground on this charismatic evening when, born in Schwerin, at some point during the course of “Lenin of Schalke”, he sighed deeply as a result of Schlube’s plan: “I can write whatever I want. Those in the West always read it as East. “But I was born here” in Friesland.

So one day he was sitting at ICE Johannes Rau. And the story begins in a wonderfully charming way, a mixture of reportage, travel guide, fiction and – yes, also – an account of thirty years of Western analysis and patriarchy.

Evening mood at the Hoheward pile, the largest landfill in the Ruhr منطقة

Evening mood at the Hoheward pile, the largest landfill in the Ruhr منطقة

Source: Jochen Tack / picture alliance

For an answer to “Deutschboden” by Moritz von Oslar and all the other reports of Westerners in the East, Schlube could not have chosen better.

Sander, served by Schlüppi with his usual Ruhr beer to keep him warm, drives east from west. for Gelsenkirchen. That drives all the stats, says Chloppy. from under. The poorest city in Germany. Highest unemployment rate. Dilapidated streets, a rickety soccer club with a rusty radiance (we’re in 2020).

Sander looks around. Find the leftover stories town. Write it carefully. Loving and self-deprecation. What makes him refreshingly different from his fellow Westerners scattered in the East.

Feels like oriental in the ’90s

Zonengaby shows him around. Of course it is made up. Gabriel Wolansky is her name in “Lenin of Schalke”. You know them from the cover of “Titanic” in November 1989 and from the sentence: “My first banana”, next to which a half-peeled cucumber can be seen. Gabi and Omar, the stall owner of Turkish descent who is with her, are Sander’s central Cicerones.

He feels strangely comfortable. Because the pedestrian areas of Gelsenkirchen, for example, remind him very much of Schwerin in the 1990s, when everyone preferred to carry their good Western money somewhere rather than invest it for local consumption. Vacancies and sales around every corner.

A landscape that appears to have measles. Mountains of ruins rise like installations. From the top you can see coal-fired power plants, wind turbines, football fields. The area on the shift belt reins.

Schalke Bodchen on Ückendorfer Strasse

Schalke Bodchen on Ückendorfer Strasse

Source: Jochen Tack / picture alliance

Time and time again, Sander, the “Lenin of Schalke” Sander, is blown away by the East for which he is known. Here in the rundown West of the 21st century, they’ve pulled wrecking ball down the streets much more carefully than they did in the 1990s rundown East. West German partisans would have pounced like hyenas on the bankruptcy declarations of the single-family home-turned-urban, emerging from the mine-strewn land of the few wealthier districts of Gelsenkirchen, had they been to the east.

Sander and a marketing person go back and forth through tourist attractions and problem areas. He walks through the streets called ‘Floose Deckback’ and filled with houses that Sander from the East defines as ‘Workers’ Closets’. He meets an AfD activist in Gelsenkirchen with immigrant backgrounds (Gelsenkirchen – called “Schithul” by right-wing residents – is the AfD stronghold from West Germany with around 15 per cent settling).

Pilsken drinks in Büdchen, visits Schalke cemetery. And at one point, among people drinking Coca-Cola, he was standing in front of the MLDP party headquarters when a two-meter statue of Lenin was unveiled in the front yard.

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You learn a lot. As a Westerner in the East, one sharpens one’s view of oneself, and Sander does not appear arrogant – this is what distinguishes him so much from his fellow Westerners who have been expelled from the East or who have moved to the East. without pity. Sander loves people who love their city but don’t know exactly why. At some point you will love them too. This also distinguishes the influence of Lenin of Schalke from most Deutschboden books.

Perhaps we should all look more at Gelsenkirchen. and to Hearn. and to Kaiserslautern. and two roles. Walking in Sanderweg. With a nine-euro ticket, you can now go anywhere. Sylt is full anyway. And the typical – which makes the “Lenin of Schalke appear” – for Germany in 2022 is not. Sander writes as is. Many may follow.

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