Looking at “historical moments” renders everything else invisible. The brilliant light radiating from such moments blinds or at least desensitises us to other things that may have happened. One need only look in the newspapers from 1988 and 1989, or leaf through notebooks from the time, to realise just how reductive the heroic image we retroactively constructed for 1989 is. In notebooks, there is no mention of an historic moment but rather scribbled information regarding doctors’ appointments, obligatory talks to attend, parent evenings. That year, as I recall by consulting diary entries, we were looking for a new apartment and a school for our daughter. Pending royalty payments from publishers and broadcasters are also noted. Birthdays of friends and the flight times of a firm that doesn’t exist anymore – Transworld Airways. Simplifications, generalisations are unavoidable; we cannot think, let alone live, without them. But it would be wrong to forget that these are simplifications. What does this imply for the historiography of the year 1989?

more from Karl Schlögel at Sign and Sight here.