Interview with Lilly Blaudszun
Lilly Blaudszun – a name that has repeatedly been in the media in the last few months. She quickly became well-known as a young and aspiring member of the Jusos (Young Social Democrats, SPD). Now she is studying law here in Frankfurt (Oder) at the Viadrina. "On the side”, she is active on social media and in corona times hosted livestreams on her Instagram account with well-known politicians like Manuela Schwesig, Kevin Kühnert and Katarina Barley. Additionally, she juggles initiatives at university, hobbies, family and friends, and time for oneself, although studying law does not come with little effort itself. So the question arises, how can one reconcile all that?
You have to reconcile a lot. Your law studies, the work at the Bundestag, Twitter and other social media. Is there still time for hobbies, friends, free time, Netflix and things like that?
Yes, fortunately! And if I don't have it sometimes, I take it very consciously. You can only achieve such a workload if you have a good balance.
Your private life and politics seem to be closely linked. Is it possible to separate them, and do you even want to?
I show a lot from my private life, but I also hold back a lot. Unlike me, my family, for example, has decided not to be in public. I respect that and I want to protect them. It is not always easy and as a left-wing politician it is certainly not always safe, so I would like to spare them from that as well.
Do you see yourself as a role model? How do you pay attention to that in your everyday life?
It is not my job to assess whether I am a role model. But I am well aware that I have a large reach – for example, in December I reached 2 million followers on Twitter alone. Of course, that means an enormous responsibility for me, which I also want to live up to. But I don't let this influence me or say my opinion less clearly because of that. At the end of the day, I'm just a normal young person: I also make mistakes, I also like to party and you'll see me walking around campus with a Club Mate and a kebab in my hand. The difference is that I do all that much more publicly than many others.
Why study law? Why Frankfurt (Oder)?
There is probably no other course of study that offers such a comprehensive education and so many opportunities like law! To be honest, I have been wanting to be everything in my life: Doctor, agronomist and even a pastor. However, I decided to go into law, because you gain an incredibly broad knowledge of how we live together. So far, at least, I haven't had any doubts about my choice, and that applies tois right for the university, too! Three years ago, I met my current colleague during an internship, who also studied at the Viadrina and who drew my attention to it. The university suits me and my life very well. I wanted to leave Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but not too far away, so that I could be with my family often. It was also clear to me that I wanted to study near Berlin so that I could work there, even though I'm not a person who would like to live there. Another assetpositive point is, of course, the international orientation of the university; thinking beyond one's own borders has always guided me. After more than 6 months, I can now say that I have settled in well and feel very comfortable.
You yourself commute a lot between FFO, Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. What do you think of that? Is it sometimes too much for you?
My advantage is that I can do everything regardless of location. Whether I'm sitting at my desk with my laptop or on a train doesn't matter to me personally. In any case, I try to use the time wisely. Unfortunately, commuting to work also means that I often have to leave really early, which is why, frankly, I sometimes just use the journey on the RE1 for sleeping. For us as students, it's of course a huge advantage to always be able to get to Berlin relatively quickly. However, commuting to the university would really not be an option for me, because I always want to be able to get to the campus or the library spontaneously. I decided on a spatial separation between work and politics and university and private life, which is also very good for my private life and my studies.
And what about student life and initiatives? Can you really participate in university life at all? Do you feel like you're missing out?
To be honest, I can't do as much as I would like to. Viadrina has a pretty strong offer, and I would really like to take more advantage of it. For me, however, it's often simply a case of having to decide whether I really want to give away the only free evening for a meeting or use it to just sit down and take a breath. Doing everything at once doesn't work if you have a relatively heavy workload and don't want to have a burn out. That's why it's usually the latter, but you can also meet me at the Jusos or, of course, in the clubs of Frankfurt or the WG Bar.
Born "Ossi", now Frankfurt. What does the East of Germany stand for, what does the West stand for? Do you think there will be no more "Ossis" and "Wessis" in the near future? What can be done?
In 1989, the points of the compass were not abolished, nor were the injustices. I don't think we can talk enough about East and West. We have to hold the Western part of Germany much more accountable when it comes to creating equal living conditions. This has been neglected politically for far too long.
Frankfurt as a contrast (AFD/left-wing mayor, medieval churches/Oder Tower) What do you wish for when it comes to the city?
Frankly, I often can't figure out this city and I think about it a lot. This contradiction between the many voters of the AfD and the left-wing mayor confuses me. But I'm looking forward to learning more about the city, its history and the people here. It's not really my thing and I don't want to take the right to evaluate something from the outside that I can't understand myself and don't know well yet – I leave that to others. My wish, however, applies to all places: I want us to live well, unprejudiced and fair with each other.
Jägerschnitzel or ketwurst?
Tough question! In the town where I come from, there is a ketwurst stand that has its own Facebook fan group. There's little that can be done against their ketwurst, so ketwurst has a slight lead.
SPD, Jusos and Kevin Kühnert. When do the Jusos stop and when does the SPD start?
We Jusos are part of the SPD. We always try to bring young perspectives into the party and to be radical, but not in a violent sense. For us it means not just scratching the surface, but tackling things from the ground, getting to the root of them. I think as socialists we are all united by our convictions. We see the injustices and we can't accept the world staying the way it is. In the end, that applies to both Olaf Scholz and Kevin Kühnert.
Why SPD? What does this party mean to you? What do you like about it? What don't you like?
I joined the party in 2017. The SPD stands for the fact that it is important where you want to go in life and that it doesn't matter where you come from or who your parents are. Everyone should be able to achieve what they want in life: graduate from high school, study or do an apprenticeship, start a career. Everyone should have the same chances to be able to advance. That's what social democracy means to me, that's what fascinates me. Of course, I sometimes find the behaviour of the SPD difficult, for example when it comes to the “Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz” If I wanted a party that always did what I wanted, I would have to found my own. I would rather fight for a better SPD and carry this "now more than ever" attitude into the party.
What is one of the most memorable moments for you since you became an influencer for the SPD and the Jusos? What does being an influencer mean to you? Do you see yourself as one? Or are you a politician?
There was never a conscious decision to be an influencer – if you want to call me one. Like most students, I'm active on social networks, I’m expressing my political opinions and I’m entertaining my followers. I am a political person, offline as well as online. The term is not relevant to me.
What does "hope of the SPD" mean to you? Do you feel pressured by this designation?
A lot of people have been writing about the "hope of the new generation" lately. I can't really get used to the term, especially because there are so many unbelievably cool young people who are extremely committed. I just have a rather relaxed way of doing politics, which is not what most people – and also journalists – are used to in politics.
Hate speech, sexism, discrimination on the internet - have you had any experiences yourself and how do you deal with it?
In contrast to other politicians, from my point of view, I am still treated quite humanely. But I have also had shitstorms in which I had to shut down the relevant networks for several days to protect myself. Especially when you express yourself as an anti-fascist, the force of the right wing is enormous. Fortunately, I have learned to deal with it over time. I then say to myself that it's not about me personally, but mostly about my political positions. I only let constructive criticism get to me, I rigorously block the rest.
Can you name a topic that should be the most important and most relevant for the media at the moment? Keyword: climate change, FFF (Fridays for Future), rent caps, Corona, war, etc.
If we put cohesion and looking out for each other at the forefront of our coexistence and discourse, we can provide answers to climate change, the question of equal living conditions in the East and the West of Germany, corona and the future of the European Union. For all that that may make us different, we should move together as a society and face the challenges of our time not each for ourselves, but all together.
Lawyer or politician? What do you want your future to look like?
The focus is on my studies. What comes after that is completely open. I still have so much time and I haven't decided all that for myself yet.
The interview was conducted on 01/04/2020 by Daniel Reinhardt in collaboration with Gesche Andert.
Find Lilly on Instagram: @lillyblaudszun