The Valley of the Clueless People

Fritz Hofmann tells this story about his and Peter’s visit to Dresden in the days of the DDR.

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Peter in Front of the Semper Oper Dresden

During our tour of the DDR, we made a stop in Dresden where the enthusiastic public celebrated Peter’s visit and embraced him heartily. At this time very few artists made appearances in the DDR. On no terms were they to make any political statements; otherwise the concert would eventually be aborted. In those days one was very nervous when visiting the socialist DDR.

Despite this, Peter permitted himself to make a little remark at the beginning of the concert, “Welcome to the valley of the clueless people.” These were the words with which he greeted his public who responded with spontaneous applause. You have to understand that in the divided Germany, people in East Germany liked watching West German television when they go get it by satellite.

Dresden, however, lay in a valley so television reception here was not possible, so people here could only watch the rather boring and very one-sided East German programs. [Freedom of the press and speech did not exist at this time.]

When we spoke to people, we found that they were grateful for any new things, because they lived almost completely isolated from the outside world. This was true even in as wonderful and beautiful a city as Dresden with its great cultural history.