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23 January 1990


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On Totalitarianism
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On 23 January 1990, Wilfried initiated as the President of charitable ARCHA Society during the 1st program gathering the “International ARCHA Conference” on the topic “The cultural situation in Europe after the Fall of the Berlin Wall” (9 November 1989). It was typical for Wilfried to react immediately on relevant political developments – the collapse of the Communist system and the open borders to the East of Europe.

During the preparations for the conference, another epochal event took place – the German re-unification, scheduled on 4 October 1990. This made it easy to schedule the conference in Görtlitz situated directly at the German Polish border, and the next epochal event was the occasion to fix the conference date on 1-3 May 1991, when it was planned to open the brigde over the river NEISSE, which had been separating the German Görlitz from its Eastern part on the otherside of the river (in Polish: Zgorzelec) since the end of World War II.

So, as a symbolical act the conference started on 1 May 1991 in the middle of this bridge where the conference participants were welcoming the Polish and Russian participants.

However, the path from 23 January 1990 to 1 May 1991 was very rocky and an incredible challenge for Wilfried, who never had organised an international conference before.

He became part of the rapprochement between Western and Eastern Germany and was personally actively involved in the system change – a challenge of unknown dimensions. Wilfried experienced the transformation of the economically disastrous Communistic system into its contrary – liberal democratic structures and an open-minded transitional solution during the structural transformation process.

It was the plan to invite besides the municipality of Görlitz also another number of East German municipalities to become co-organizers of the conference. It was a miracle, how it was possible for Wilfried to install a communication with East German partners by phone and mail. I took mostly no less than 10 days to install a single phone communication, at all, Wilfried was continuously travelling between Cologne and East German cities, he had to mobilize the funding for the conference and the best speakers.

The municipality of Görlitz, the conference venue, was thinking an angel came from heaven and would care now for everything, particularly for funding, promotion and others, but Wilfried was setting the record straight and told the municipal responsibles, as a partner of the conference they need to care themselves for the basic, especially the funding of municipal structures, so that the realization of the conference was a kind of pedagogical challenge, but the East Germans learned very quickly.

After the German re-unification on 4 October 1990, there were a kind of heavenly situation, because the new to be installed administrative structures did not exist yet. Wilfried wanted to ask the Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony ( one of the new German federal states) Prof. Dr. Kurt Biedenkopf for taking patronage over the conference, and for doing so, Wilfried was advised to enter simply the Prime Minister’s office and make his request, also for getting funded by the state administration.

And so he did, he simply entered the office, made his request in his typical naive way and within half an hour the Patronage and the conference funding was settled. Nowadays, something like that wouldn’t be possible, at all, und would take weeks, probably even months.

These kind of experiences, however, showed Wilfried, what’s possible if such administrative people really want something – without the bureaucratic structures, which – once established – prevent any spontaneous decision. Wilfried learned for himself, what ever he would do in future, he never wanted to be in a position which would not allow such spontaneous decisions, any more.

The conference itself, which is a topic of a later article, was a mile-stone in Wilfried activities so far, taking deeply influence on his personal course of life.

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