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Opera Tan Malaka and The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Updated on February 11, 2016

People celebrate the Fall of The Berlin Wall

By: Helmi Junaidi

This article is to comment on the banning of opera Tan Malaka on Indonesia televisions. This opera was performed at Salihara theater some months ago. Tan Malaka was a prominent Indonesian communist figure during Dutch colonial era and still have some influences on certain people in Indonesia. I think theater, music and other kind of arts must have freedom of expression. But, about communism and Marxism that applied on state or on people daily life, well.... let us enjoy the two following songs, “Mother Russia” by Iron Maiden and “Wind of Change” by Scorpion. See and read the lyrics on the youtube link.

The songs were released in late 1980's, during euphoria in Europe after the collapse of communism. At that time the whole world was amazed, all people rubbing his eyes in amazement as if they could not believed what they watched right in front of their eyes. It was really unbelievable! The Mighty Soviet Empire, a terrifying bastion of communism had fallen. People become more amazed when they watched the hideous Berlin Wall being climbed and demolished by the crowd, some of them taken for souvenir. Hundred thousands people from the West and East gathered to celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall. Families, brothers and sisters who had not seen each other for many years because being separated by the wall crying and hugging each other. East and West embraced each other in laughter, joy and tears mixed together. The whole world was really amazed and wondering if this was real? Really like a dream. And after being convinced that it was really happening, then they only can say one word: Miracle!

The said "miracle" even tough they still had anxiety that everything will only last for just a few days and perhaps it will be crushed by Soviet tanks, just as happened in Hungary in the 1950s. But, thank God it never happened. Even the Soviet communist party was disbanded after the abortive coup to overthrow Gorbachev.

A few years earlier, before the fall of Berlin wall, a song that can beautifully described the athmosphere of the Cold War era is “Nikita” by Elton John --> Border guards with grim unsmiling faces in cold snowy weather, Soviet troops wearing thick winter uniform marching in Soviet style. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the protracted war there really make non-communist countries became like frightened chicken that saw a badger. But, people were still trying to make jokes, they published humour books about Russia. No political and military experts who dare to think and give a prediction that the Soviet Union that was so powerful could collapse in the near future. People at that time could only accept the fate that the world will be forever split into the Western Block and the Eastern Block. The cold war forever, that often became a proxy hot war here and there, with millions of casualties on both sides. And people can only pray that there will never be World War III, that means the apocalypse.

For those who also experienced the Cold War, perhaps this article can make you have a nostalgia for a moment and remembering that era. What I wrote here is what everyone's feelings during the cold war era. And for the younger generation who was born after the cold war and do not experience to live in the cold war, then hopefully this article can help them to know the condition of that era.

Miracle! This is the only most appropriate word to describe it. It was truly a miracle. And at that time everyone hoped that something similar would happen in China and North Korea. But the bloody tragedy in Tiananmen made that hope crumbled. However, until now many people still expect something similar will happen there, whenever it is. They wish there will be a moment when Mother Russia in Chinese version being played aloud in Tiananmen Square and Red Square in Pyongyang. And while we are hoping for that, then let us not to increase the number of red square in any country, including here in Indonesia, of course.

And finally, to end this article, let us listen to the lyrics of Iron Maiden’s song “Mother Russia”.

Mother Russia dance of the Czars

Hold up your heads, be proud of what you are

Now it has come freedom at last

Turning the tides of history and your past

Mother Russia dance of the stars

Hold up your heads, remember who you are

Can you release the anger the grief

Can you be happy now your people are free

Jakarta, January 21, 2011


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