Abrilliant invention. Two containers holding two chemical substances. Each in itself almost harmless. Only when the shell strikes do they react with one another and together turn into a deadly chemical weapon.

Just nearly harmless. Disposal is difficult, as with most organic compounds. Incinerate the contents of a gallon drum and the whole citywill be wreathed in smoke. But discharge it into the sewage and iridescent greenish puddles will form, in the sludge the bacteria will suffocate again. . .

Twice Germany found herself at the epicentre of an explosion that devastated the globe. Now people want to keep her spirit divided—two thirds in one flask, one third in another. Better two, three. . .many Germanies: specially bred dwarf varieties are easier to cultivate.

Setting: Budapest 1973, at the formal reception for the international congress of computer science. A circle of onlookers has formed round the adversaries as if round two scrapping schoolboys. One protagonist is from Leipzig, the other from Stuttgart. They thrust their champagne-glasses into each other’s chests and fire off arguments as if they were arrows. The man from Leipzig wants to prove that there are now two German nations, one bourgeois and the other socialist, which are to one another like fire and water, or at any rate oil and water. In this way he is carrying out his travelling instructions, which prescribe for political conversations on the conference fringes the illustration of recent party decisions, shortly to be incorporated into the gdr’s constitution. The man from Stuttgart defends himself eloquently and without instructions. He cites the continuous unity of German culture and the German nation, mentioning Berlin, Weimar, Frankfurt and other symbols. With Vienna and Musil, with Kafka and Prague, he gets himself into a tangle: the names of the true German bearers of culture sound a bit outlandish. . .

Round about stand their colleagues (Hungarians, Bulgarians, Frenchmen and one Polish woman), amused and patting them both soothingly on the shoulder. Worthy fighting-cocks, these Germans: their English with its pan-German intonation can hardly be distinguished; but even at the sherry party they are loyal to their Hegel, deploying thesis and antithesis; they are cloned twins, cabaret clones for the onlooking Europeans. Going by the outward appearance of their essence they are identical to one another, the essence of the appearance is non-identical, and they want to show us, persuade us, that their manifest identity-being turns into national non-identity and the latter into a kind of becoming.

Scene change: 1989. Chat show on West German tv. Four East and four West German men and women and a Swiss, who intervenes only once to make clear that the German question is ‘fucking irrelevant’ to him. The atmosphere of the company is embarrassed and the ever-dexterous host of the show has a hard time: in the house of the hanged man, someone has been clumsy enough to mention the rope.

The German Wall, in other words—‘The’ Wall, ‘Il’ Muro, ‘Le’ Mur, ‘Ta’ Stena—that wonder of the world which is everywhere addressed only as a proper noun, if need be with a demonstrative pronoun, but never (unlike the Chinese Wall) with an adjective. The tactless person is Martin Walser, who sits there stubbornly and expresses his feeling that the absurd is absurd and no sophistry can pass it off to him as reason.footnote1 Unendurable, if Germany should henceforth crop up only as a generic term in the weather report!