One episode of "Anne Will" was enough to spoil Stephan Wackwitz's evening in his apartment in Tblissi.

"It was in the early summer of 2014, I think," he writes in his essay "Your freedom, our freedom" (Edition FotoTapeta), as he watched the German politician Erhard Eppler "with increasing disbelief", who was told by a "leading Western politician “ I spoke about the broken agreement that NATO and the EU would not be expanded to include countries east of the former GDR after the collapse of the Soviet Union – not even Georgia, which had been militarily humiliated by Russia a few years earlier, and not their Crimea, in turn, by Russia since 2014 deprived Ukraine.

Eppler announced on the talk show that Putin felt threatened by the West's expansionist efforts, "pressed against the wall".

Tilman Spreckelsen

Editor in the Feuilleton.

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"In the past," writes Wackwitz, "I would have listened to all that calm blood.

But now I, the foreign fellow citizen of that country the size of Bavaria or Switzerland, whose capital was located in the near ballistic range of the Russian artillery, spontaneously flared up with indignation, which was connected with the aforementioned threat phantasm whether a country belongs to an alliance should be decided, if not in the country itself.

Bildungsroman with an open ending

Wackwitz, who was born in Stuttgart in 1952, has come a long way to this point and traces it in his autobiographical novels and volumes of essays. You can ask each one of them what contribution their own experiences or those of others, especially family members, made to it. The author does it too, at least in the volume “New People”, which he describes as a “Bildungsroman”. It is dedicated to the story of the first years of its protagonist at the university, the membership in the DKP-affiliated association “MSB Spartakus”, the doubts about it and the self-examination thirty years later: what political dream did he adhere to, where did he come from, what did he do him so attractive, and how did he finally break away from it,with whose help? Here, as in other books, Wackwitz does not stay with himself, but looks for traces of seductiveness in others as well, such as his father, who was taken prisoner of war in 1939 while crossing from South West Africa to Germany and spent years in a Canadian camp.

After studying German, the son worked as a lecturer in London and for the Goethe-Institut in Kraków, New York, Tokyo, Bratislava, Tblissi and Minsk, among other places.

The wide view, the sovereign directing as mediation of narrative and explanation, which make Wackwitz's prose so exciting, go hand in hand with a noticeable passion for dialogue and the discovery, especially when it comes to East Central Europe.

This does not stand in the way of an opinion, an attitude, on the contrary.

After many years as a participating guest in other countries, Stephan Wackwitz lives in Berlin.

Today he celebrates his seventieth birthday.

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