source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Dirk Vogel
source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Frank Ebert
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Carlo Jordan

born 1951 in Berlin

Carlo Jordan is one of those people who are perfectly calm in themselves, rarely disconcerted or unsettled. That was the case before 1989, in 1989/90, and it is still the case today. And he was one of the most prominent figures in the GDR opposition during the 1980s.

A civil engineer, he was strongly influenced by the anti-authoritarian student movement in West Germany and Prague’s reform communism. Initially, he was concerned with living on a self-determined basis, independently of the state. He was employed by state construction companies up to 1979, before starting work as a construction manager and lecturer on Philosophy and Literature in church institutions in 1980. Jordan co-organised opposition cultural events in Berlin from the early 1970s on. The Stasi observed and persecuted him continuously from that point. He began working in peace circles in the early 1980s. In 1986, Carlo Jordan, Wolfgang Rüddenklau and Christian Halbrock initiated the Berlin Environmental Library. In 1988 he founded the green ecological network Arche (Ark) and the samizdat magazine Arche Nova, practically a splinter group and further development of the Environmental Library. The Ark documented the environmental situation and urban decay in the GDR. A number of the group’s videos were broadcast by West German television channels, for instance the film Bitteres aus Bitterfeld (Bitter News from Bitterfeld), the first to present the pollution of an entire region of the GDR. Films like this helped to sharpen people’s critical eye for their living conditions.

During the 1989 revolution, Carlo Jordan was one of those who warned against uniting the GDR with West Germany in a rushed process. He was in favour of German unity by means of convening a German national assembly in line with Article 146 of the Basic Law. Yet he was not opposed to unification. In November 1989, he was one of the founders of the Green Party in the GDR. He was spokesman for the Greens at the Central Round Table, which met from December 1989 to March 1990. He was a member of the East Berlin city council elected in May 1990 until the Berlin city parliaments were united, and then a member of the Berlin House of Representatives in 1994/95.

In January 1990, he was one of the initiators of the Normannenstrasse memorial and research centre, which was set up in the former Stasi headquarters. He has since published various writing on the history of the GDR opposition. In 2000 he gained a PhD at Berlin’s Free University with a dissertation on the history of the militarisation of Berlin’s Humboldt University. Carlo Jordan is one of those opposition activists who paved the way for a united Germany but has not been sufficiently thanked for his role in this.

Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk

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