Zerstzung by Erik Lloyd Olson

Zerstzung

The Stasi of East Germany was one of the most effective secret police agencies to have existed; its motto was: ‘Shield and Sword of the Party.’ It spied on the citizenry through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fought any opposition by tactics of Zersetzung, or the hidden psychological destruction of targets.This was designed to ‘switch off’ perceived dissidents so that they lose the will for ‘unacceptable’ activities… it included wiretapping, bugging, mysterious phone calls, breaking into homes and subtly rearranging their contents… Usually, victims had no clue the Stasi was responsible.

My fond remembrance cannot reconcile
this recent find: I have a Stasi file.

. .No block was free, no park or public square—
the watchers’ eyes were hidden everywhere.
One night I met a girl, despite the fear,
in a loud cafe where no spy could hear.
She smuggled outlawed books, hard-packs of Kents . . .
her ruling conscience was her recompense.
. .We wandered in the darksome, cobbled maze,
slipped through the columns, took the alleyways
to get around marches extolling Marx:
In midnight’s mist torchbearers trailing sparks,
gloriously misnamed Free German Youth,
restricted open routes and sang untruth.
. .We made it to my Wilhelmina flat,
where we could be alone to more than chat.
My inner sanctum there was most uncertain,
all could see in, but for the window curtain.
Laughing, she pulled away from my embrace,
then drew the curtain clear. The only trace
she left was lipstick on a drained carafe.
They got to her, then . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .for my photograph!?
My student years are typed and paper-clipped,
stuffed in a drawer, a strange familiar script.

by Erik Lloyd Olson

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Editor’s Note: A haunting history lesson done in impeccable meter, with perfect rhyme, presses its knowledge into our minds with great emphasis.