I have borrowed the title from the name of an exceptional film which my son Dhiren invited me to see in his Seoul home sometime back.
The film directed by a German filmmaker, F. Von Donnersmarck, is based on a true story. In brief, it is about the monitoring of the cultural scene of East Berlin in 1984 by the agents of the notorious East German secret police, the Stasi. A Stasi agent, Gerd Wiesler is assigned to spy on a successful playwriter, Gerg Dreyman. Wiesler bugs Dreyman’s apartment and listens everyday to the conversations going on in the apartment, including the intimate ones between Dreyman and his girlfriend, a beautiful film actress. The latter is coveted by the German Minister of Culture. The spying activities become so traumatic for the artists that many commit suicide. Dreyman decides to publish the suicide statistics in the West Berlin magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ for the attention of the whole world and manages to send the script secretly. The Minister gets wild on seeing the publication and orders an elaborate enquiry. The Stasi spares no effort to look for the typewriter used to type the article and Dreyman’s apartment is searched. However, Wiesler, though still a Stasi agent listens to his conscience and decides to reach Dreyman’s apartment ahead of the squad and takes away the typewriter, thereby saving the life of Dreyman. Wiesler is then looked down with suspicion and is demoted.
It was at that time that Michael Gorbatchev became the leader of the Soviet Union and within a span of five years, the Berlin wall fell, East Germany and West Germany were united and the USSR collapsed, ushering a new era of freedom in the Eastern block.
After the reunification of Germany, Dreyman wrote a book on the tragic plight of the artists and during his research from the Stasi archives he came to know of the determining role played by Wiesler. The two never met, but Dreyman dedicated his book to Wiesler. Wiesler himself did not know about it until he saw the book with Dreyman’s picture on the cover in a bookstore. He bought a copy and saw on the first page that the book was dedicated to him.
The lesson we draw is that although we may have a system run by corrupt minds and unethical persons, yet one person can make the difference. He may decide not to follow the instructions blindly and act according to his conscience. This may be applicable in the Mauritian context too. People with the right frame of mind and upholding universal values should not condone an unjust system and should have the courage to prevent the perpetrators from causing further harm to society.
The world becomes a better place when people stand up and fight against injustice. Here, the unfair dismissal of Rehana Ameer by the MBC and the unsustainable suspicion surrounding the death of Anand Kumar Ramdhany in a Riviere du Rempart police cell have caught public attention. The leader of the Opposition came up with a PNQ in Parliament on both cases. The Rehana Ameer case has been resolved recently. In the Ramdhany case, the Opposition parties stated that they had carried out their own investigations and felt uncomfortable with the Prime Minister’s reply. Was there foul play ? Was there any form of cover up ? What will be the stand of the DPP ? According to the law of Nature, however much one tries to hide the truth it will emerge one day. Time is immaterial. It can take days or months or even years just like in the case of Wiesler and Dreyman.
I know of a case in an important Private Sector organisation where the Director decided to dispense with the services of two senior staff on flimsy grounds. The legal adviser, the prosecutor and the chairman of the disciplinary committee all belonged to his clan and their fat fees were approved by him. Furthermore, a few selected employees were advised how to depone against the two persons. Because of their integrity and professionalism, those two persons have found better jobs elsewhere. This sort of decadence can be stopped by a few good people who need to act according to their conscience. It is a pity that this particular case was not brought to the notice of Jack Bizlall, but the law of karma is prevailing. The erstwhile omnipotent Director is now in semi disgrace, pending his retirement.
In Nazi Germany, Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, supplying goods to the Hitlererian army listened to his conscience and saved the life of hundreds of Polish jews during the Holocaust by employing them secretly in his factories. Schindler has carved an honourable place in history. His humanitarian actions have been immortalised in the famous film ‘Schindler’s List’, directed in 1993 by the genius Steven Spielberg.
I recommend readers to capture the intensity of the moral actions of both Wiesler and Schindler by seeing the two movies.
* “Das Leben der Anderen”