Munich, twenty six after. I lived here toward the end of the Cold War when an escape from behind the Iron Curtain was guaranteeing a safe passage to the world of the free. The communism was less dictatorial than it was stupid, a prison type utopia developed by sick minds who were looking how to enslave their subjects obliged to hail their nonexistent freedom. A system of non-believers in the society’s values and rulers.
I lived in Munich waiting for this passage and enjoying a city that was and still is part of the engine of this great country.
I found Munich very much the same as I left it. Newer and fresher, way more cosmopolitan and maybe less conservative but still classy and very neat. Hard working and tidy, the German love order and here is the key to the amazing success of the totally defeated nation of the Second World War that leads Europe nowadays. Few old things remained in Munich after the bombardments and what was built in a rush after the war was ugly and very utilitarian but even those buildings were modernized and cleaned up and the center of the city looks today like a jewel taken from a gilded case. I met my very dear friends with whom I shared great moments there and they told me more about their life in Germany about which I knew just bits and pieces, I found the story very comforting, the same story of a comfortable life similar with the one I heard living there years ago. They think like all Europeans that life has to be equitable for all, all with their insurance, with some money at the retirement, all enjoying a safe even maybe not so affluent life. They were content and very appreciative at the entire system over all, understanding also the needs of a flexible job market, a process that was initiated years ago in Germany and is swiping the entire continent. For them and the Europeans in general, America is still as remote in understanding as it was 50 years ago. The amazing earning opportunities are perceived as shadowed by the lack of personal life that in Europe still exist in spite of the intense work schedule and commute time. The lack of medical insurance and the the prevalence of guns are issues that are completely inconceivable to most Europeans. But what I felt the most is that the Germany I knew, flexible and refreshed after these years, is the same as the one I lived in, the same Germany of a secure life and stability that confer to the European model a viability even today in spite of the sirens singing its demise. Of course the European social model is perceived with caution especially when the Germans have to pour money in countries that are obviously bankrupt first in mentality more than in finance.
Munich pedestrian area was decorated for winter holidays, all buildings being covered in lights and a skating ring being very alive in Staccus Square. The churches and all buildings around were looking sparkling new and Hofbrauhaus was bustling with people. Marien Platz had its best Christmas tree in years right near the Rathaus Building and people dressed elegantly were promenading the exclusive Maximilien Strasse going to the Opera to see Traviatta.
Munich was same as I left it 25 years ago. Maybe I just woke up after a long sleep…