This past Sunday, November 9, was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
I remember seeing East and West Germans climbing over and on top of the Wall and celebrating with each other without being shot, and the first pieces of that horrendous thing finally pushed down by the public on live TV in 1989.
It was one of those things that I thought would never happen in my lifetime.
For you young’uns out there, Germany used to be divided into two states — West Germany (capital city, Bonn) and East Germany (capital city, Berlin). Berlin itself was also divided into two halves — West and East Berlin — smack dab in the middle of East Germany.
The Wall was erected the year after my birth by the Communist government to completely isolate socialist West Berlin from communist East Berlin and the surrounding area of East Germany, and prevent East Berliners from defecting into West Berlin. (Millions of East Germans had already done so and escaped to West Germany and Western Europe by then.) Thousands of East Germans continued to attempt to cross the Wall and the “death strip” and defect to freer pastures anyway.
West Berliners also tried to get back to the families and jobs that had been cut off from them.
Two hundred+ gave their lives in those attempts.
Some ten or so years after the Fall, on a visit to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, I walked up to a massive slab of the Wall in the museum without knowing it was there. All I could do was stare and try to wrap my brain around what I was looking at. It didn’t seem possible that I was looking at IT, on my side of the world, this symbol of Communism vs. Democracy, the Cold War, and the “Iron Curtain.” This symbol of mankind’s undying determination to not be kept from what means the most to him.
This was well before the era of the camera phone, folks. The disposable camera pictures I took are in an album in storage, LOL. So, I’m borrowing one.
One thing we must not forget when it comes to history, however, is that there are two sides to every story. The post link I’m sharing below was quick to remind me of that.
According to this account, for all the East and West Berliners who found themselves freed the day East Germany announced its decision to open the Wall (after weeks of civil unrest), there were many others who had been content to be good citizens of the Eastern state, and who promptly found themselves without a state, a job, healthcare, or means. In other words, though East and West were reunified from a geographic standpoint, internally that wasn’t so. In many instances, it was more like what I call a flip/flop flapjack effect — whichever side is on top at the time gets the butter and syrup, while the other side burns.
(Can you imagine? School children with everything pertaining to the United States, the U.K., and most of the rest of the world all blacked out in their textbooks?)
It is times like these when it suddenly dawns on me just how many historic changes in the world I’ve been blessed to see.