At the 30-years of InterFace jubilee party, Gerhard Saeltzer was one of the guests of honour. Being the surprise guest from Dresden, he had prepared a wonderful speech. As the party progressed to become a rather excessive and noisy affair, there was, unfortunately, no opportunity to give this speech its due place. The first part of the speech describes a rather impressive chapter of East-German/West-German history. InterFace and yours truly were lucky enough to witness some of this history first-hand during the very early stages.
It is truly nice that you all exist!
Dear Roland Dürre, dear InterFace folks, dear guests!
Today, we meet to celebrate the thirtieth birthday of InterFace. Many thanks for the invitation, which I gladly accepted. I immediately decided to come here with my wife.
It is truly nice that you all exist and that we all found each other here today!
Let us remember some events of 24 years ago. It was the time of the German Re-Unification. What exciting and upsetting times those were! And how frustrating they were in East Germany! For instance, Germans from Bavaria came to visit us Saxonians – and they spoke a language that sounded totally alien to our ears. And the second word all those Bavarians uttered was one that had been totally eradicated in the East: God. Wherever you saw them, you heard them say: “Grüß Gott“ – the only thing the Saxonians could do by way of reply was to give an embarrassed and shy “Na goodden Taach“.
And we also learned that the Godly greeting was accompanied by something else: the church tax collected by the federal tax office and often shockingly high back pays for us persons living in the East. And then something extraordinary happened: countless special knights stormed into the East – fortune-hunting knights and robber-knights. Along with attorneys and politicians, counsellors and realtors, functionaries and unionists. Many of them – let us be honest about this – had become redundant or put to pasture in the West. In no time, the con artists came: the car salespersons who sold four-wheel junk as new cars. The textile merchants who sold used clothes as new. The quick property hunters who bought huge dilapidated East-VEB’s for one DM, then demolished the houses and sold the property for millions. And the agents for all kinds of things and totally useless items, above all for life insurances. I, too, unnecessarily, “nibbled”.
In the East, I met attorneys and civil servants from the West who, for example, did not even know that you had to put your signature underneath a legal complaint before you submit it at court. And even show-masters and magicians turned up. One of them actually came right from heaven – he landed in Dresden with a borrowed helicopter – like a God of Fortune. He built a new suburb of Dresden in a swampy area, sold the best soccer players and eventually disappeared behind prison bars. And there were also great IT counsellors who were really absolutely incompetent. They did not even know the meaning of the words software engineering and software quality.
Well, my dear Bavarians, you can imagine how, after the re-unification, there was plenty of frustration and negative culture shocks in the East. We had to undergo a total re-programming. And then, all of a sudden, a miracle happened. I witnessed the reverse, some kind of positive culture shock. In Dresden, I met the entrepreneur Roland Dürre and parts of his young team, his wife and even his youngest offspring Rupert.
Now this man was totally different. He was an entrepreneur who did not just talk big, but was competent and knew what he was doing. A man you could talk to, from man to man, without arrogance. He met me at eye-level without first looking at the contents of my purse (it was empty, anyway) before starting to talk. A man who, even as the head of the entire firm, met his employees like family, wearing felt slippers. With his athletic and unpretentious life-style, he used soap from army supplies for his daily ablutions, rather than certain perfumed chief soaps. Roland Dürre, the entrepreneur who was such a good listener. A man who it was a pleasure to talk to and to cooperate with. A flexible team manager in the truest sense of the word.
Well, let me put it bluntly: for me as someone who was frustrated with re-unification, Roland Dürre and his team looked like extra-terrestrials landed from another, positive star. And they successfully mastered the last 30 stormy years! And I admire all those at InterFace who were part of it.
You all are just terrific! It is so nice to have you all here!
Many thanks to Roland Dürre for this silver lining I was permitted to experience, this East-German/West-German post-re-unification culture shock! Dear Roland Dürre! In those days, we both were quite bold, deciding to organize the first East-German/West-German technological conference for modern software and application systems SoftSys 9/90 in Dresden. Regardless of our rather limited resources, we were both even faster than the high and mighty politicians.
As early as 9 days before the re-unification on October, 3rd, 1990, our East-German/West-German re-unification conference took place in Dresden! The good communication between the two of us had some considerable effect. Everything was done faster. Later, unfortunately, our connection came to a standstill.
So much the more wonderful that, after 24 years, we re-united. I found InterFace on the internet when I entered my own name and accidentally found a book review about my computer science book for children and later for primary school in Saxonia: ”Erstaunliche Computerwelt“.
Dear Mr. Dürre, dear InterFace Team!
Looking back makes me a little sad: unfortunately, there are currently far too few enterprises in Germany and Europe where such a nice, communicative, faire culture is lived as at InterFace. In these times of company bankruptcies and mergers, where quite a few enterprises have not survived, you managed to stick it out on the market. Wonderful! Many others could learn from you.
I admire you!
It is really a pity that, as of today, science has not yet mastered one art: perfect cloning. Both Germany and Europe would be better off if you and your enterprise could be cloned – maybe five times, or, a little more boldly, 20 times! And since, unfortunately, this cannot yet be done, they really should erect a plinth or at least a memorial table for InterFace here in Unterhaching. Well, even if they cannot do that at the moment, here are my heart-felt congratulations – you might find some similarities to Theodor Fontane:
”May sorrow be lame, may worries be tame!
Hear our wishes for the birthday child:
Another thirty years unharmed and mild!“
And, my dear Roland Dürre, here is another small wish for the future – because it is such a pleasure to cooperate with you. How about a new shared project with world-wide potential? I have an idea I would like to discuss with you.
Best health and good luck for all of you!
Grüß Gott! Godden Taach, and so long – perhaps with amusing anecdotes from my life with the computer in the East! You are all cordially invited!
Dr. Saeltzer, Unterhaching, June, 27th, 2014
The invitation was for the session “fascinating things and anecdotes around the present and the future of computer application” by Dr. Saeltzer during our 30-year-jubilee party. In this session, he told us amusing things about the start of IT in the GDR during the 1960ies. He also took the role of helping to build courage and showed with small reading sessions from his book “Wedding in the River” (which is an “introduction to resilience”) how people can retain optimism even in grave situations, such as the Dresden flood catastrophe.
When I read this text, my ears turned purple, but I was certainly very delighted.
My most heartfelt regards and many thanks to Dr. Saeltzer.
(Translated by EG)
Here are a few catchwords to characterize our “surprise guest” Dr. Gerhard Saeltzer: Computer Scientist, Software Technologist, Simulation Expert, Author, Speaker, Trainer (more than 10 books, among them best sellers, 100 printed technological reports, 1,000 presentations and seminars, exposes for educational TV), entire pages and interviews in the daily newspaper devoted just to him, Chairman of big technological conferences in the East, Designer of Innovations such as ProgFox, LEMA. His last position was as governmental director of the Saxonian data-security center in Dresden. Currently, he is in anti-retirement; he has been jogging through Dresden for 20 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on a daily basis for the last 45 years.
The text is the original by Dr. Gerhard Saeltzer. I added the two pictures of the books mentioned in the article.