Summer of Literature in Westerwald: Lenin at Schalke and what would have happened

Message from 05/05/2022

Written by Helmy Tishler-Venter

Gregor Sander was a guest at Cinexx in Hachenburg on May 4 as part of the Westerwald Summer of Literature, whose theme is “Ost-Wind.” He presented his book “Lenin Auf Schalke”. Then the movie “What Would Happen” was shown, about which Sander wrote the novel and script.

Author Gregor Sander at Reading Hachenburg. Photos: Helmy Tishler Venter

Hachenburg. The author was pleased that the organizers in Hachenburg presented the book and the film together for the first time. He first explained how the book “Lenin of Schalke” appeared, in which East Berliners spent a total of three months in Gelsenkirchen.

The impetus came from a late-night discussion with two of his friends, former medical students, who mocked the fact that the West had been looking to the East for thirty years. It’s time to look back. “Sander, you have to head west,” these words begin the journey from a chip shop in East Berlin to Gelsenkirchen. At the time of writing the book, this city in the Ruhr region was the poorest city in all of Germany and topped all the negative lists. The “inventor of the story” Gregor Sander, as an Oriental, was supposed to describe East in West.

Arriving in Gelsenkirchen, he saw a huge mining hammer with the eloquent sayings of the miners, a lunar landscape with almost black coarse sand and a “stairway to heaven” made of plates from the steel mills of Gelsenkirchen stacked one on top of the other. From here you can see small mountains. The mountains are piles of rubbish that have been preserved, oddly enough. From the top, Schalke 04 square can be seen in the back. Omar, a miner whose father came to the Ruhr region as a guest worker, explains that all of Gelsenkirchen have a Schalken whim.

Omar was a “suitcase kid”: he grew up with his grandmother in Turkey until he reached school age and only saw his parents and older brother once a year during the holidays. He then went to school in Gelsenkirchen without speaking German and lived in a guest worker settlement. Today he runs one of his many drinking halls, selling beer, napkins, sparkling water, cigarettes, flour and toast. He knows the whole neighborhood and invites his drinking room into his home.

The Schalke Mile in (not in) Schalke is about 800 metres. When mining was still thriving, it was one of the busiest streets in the city from north to south. Today, the demolition of the steel-concrete bridge that is no longer needed is being discussed. And the “Schalker market”, where FC Schalke 04 was founded, is now a car park. The “Glück auf” -Kampfbahn has been closed for years and the only pub that still serves beer here has few visitors. But there is a graveyard for Schalke fans.

Lenin is already in Gelsenkirchen: in June 2020, a red-wrapped statue of Lenin was erected in front of the Federal Headquarters of the German Marxist-Leninist Party (MLPD), a former savings bank building, attended by about 300 people.

When asked what he loves most about Gelsenkirchen, Gregor Sander mentioned the old drinking booths and the people’s sense of humor, as well as their relatively great love of home.

His version of the love film “What Would Happen” was published in 2014. On behalf of the producer, Sander also wrote the script for a film adaptation, which took four years to work on. Like the book, the film also takes place on two levels: the present always alternates with the stages of memory in the past. Because a couple in their late forties are taking a trip to Budapest. At the Gellert Hotel, they met the first great love of an East German woman, whom she had not seen for thirty years. Leading actors Christian Paul and Ronald Zerfeld are portrayed as young men by actors who look remarkably similar.

The main idea of ​​the film was to show that many people returned to the GDR because of their families. The emotional consequences of the Iron Curtain still have an effect today. (htv)

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