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drivers license

Reader comment on item: Living Freely in England a Century Ago

Submitted by myth (Germany), Jul 31, 2011 at 07:46

Two decades ago drivers licenses were different in Germany. I still have one of those. Paper and fabric is what I hold in my hand when I take a look at it. I look into my face the way it was 25 years ago. The drivers license has aged with me. The fabric and the paper aged, my picture did not. The state does not ask for a renewal. The four-digit postcodes I read remind me of cold-war West-Germany. Today's postcodes have one digit reunified into the number.

I recall when I drove with my grandfather and the police stopped us. They tried but could not read his drivers license. It was valid, issued by the Wehrmacht in 1940, handwritten with a photograph of my grandfather when he was young. The police knew: if we cannot identify the man on the picture, cannot read the writing, cannot find similarity to another known document then yes, the license is authentic. The police procedure was a friendly handshake between present and the past.

Authenticity of the document no longer counts. The driver, no longer the document is in the focus of state attention. The state now tracks people moving, driving, even aging on their drivers license. A plastic card, a chip between some layers of plastic, a brandnew photo make this happen. A new license would require renewal after som years.

Looking at my license again I know: East Germany 25 years would have loved the new plastic drivers licenses. I remember those days, my licenses makes me remember. I recognize the police state in today's technology.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (18) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
really? [42 words]mikeAug 28, 2011 11:05188920
1What is the point ...? [265 words]Amin RiazAug 3, 2011 21:18188002
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A.J.P. Taylor is no longer reading comments on his work [31 words]PaulAug 22, 2011 20:52188002
Confused [8 words]Amin RiazAug 23, 2011 22:46188002
... India? [63 words]SamAug 3, 2011 05:09187979
drivers license [265 words]mythJul 31, 2011 07:46187880
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w/response from Daniel Pipes
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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