Fall Of The Wall 25th Anniversary
Posted by grumpycat333
To those of us who grew up in a divided Germany today is a special day, marking the 25th anniversary fall of the Berlin Wall and with it the fall of East Germany. The Eastern bloc under communism fell apart in 1989, and a great change swept through Europe. East Germans were celebrating the freedom to travel, the right to free speech and being finally able to buy bananas!
Nowhere was the presence of the border felt more acutely than in the divided city itself. Not only were there two cities, East and West Berlin, but the capitalist West Berlin for 27 years became a symbol for freedom, an island in the sea of communism, kept alive by the Allied countries (The USA, France and Britain) and Enormous subsidies from West Germany.
I was born the day before JFK gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in front of the wall in 1963, but of course I was too young to care. Nor, in fact, did I ever care very much growing up, as the divided Germany was simply “normality”. Lucky for me I was born in the West. From the time I was very young traveling to West Berlin by car became a regular event, as my paternal grandparents lived there. Border controls were the norm in Europe then (Pre EU), but in most of the countries border guards quickly glanced at your passport and waved you through. Not so when traveling through East Germany, or the DDR, as we called it. The DDR guards would look intently at your photo, then stare at you, the look at the photo again, then stare at you , several times, until they were sure you were not one of their own, trying to escape. There were spot checks, where they took apart half your car in order to look for hidden escapees.
I was a child, it was the way things were. And it was only a small taste of how East Germans were controlled by the Stasi for most of their lives, afraid of being caught saying the wrong thing, not being able to trust your neighbours in a country , where towards the end 25% of the population were government spies and people were thrown into jail for years for minor activism, which we take for granted.
In my late teens I became a little bit more interested in what was happening “on the other side”, My father and I spent a memorable day in East Berlin in the winter of 1980, where we tried our best to spend the 50 Deutsch Mark we were forced to exchange. I remember mostly, how dark it was: Gloomy. When we returned to West Berlin at night, the city lights just hit me. West Berlin was designed to be a thorn in the side of the East, a constant reminder that it wasn’t going away: loud, brightly lit and with no closing time for pubs , nightclubs and restaurants.
But in hindsight I can say that while the other side may have felt the constant pulse of the lively West Berlin, we also felt the gloom that was coming from the East which gave West Berlin a certain existentialist and melancholic tinge, forever immortalized in Wim Wenders incredible movie “Der Himmel ueber Berlin” (Wings Of Desire)
I was already living in Australia when the wall came down, the end result of Gorbachev s” glasnost” “perestroika ” and a peaceful people’s revolution. The story of the Berlin Wall serves a reminder that change can happen and often happens quite suddenly, when enough factors come together to make a political situation no longer bearable.
There is no doubt, that we in the West are enjoying more freedom than the people who were imprisoned in East Germany, but we can never take these freedoms for granted, as the powers that be are happy to take them from us whenever we are not looking. While the fall of communism in 1989 was a good thing, many places, including Australia now suffer from the disease of corporatism, where it is not elected governments that run the country but corrupt politicians ruled by the Super-Wealthy and their corporations.
“We the people will need to see beyond the illusion,(created by those currently in power) that institutions like the courts and parliament, are the conduits through which justice and progressive change will be facilitated, they are merely mechanisms by which those who have hi- jacked the system,(so as to pursue their nefarious agenda) can do so unabated and limit any possibility of change to the current top down status quo.
Addressing this WILL require taking it PERSONALLY and not seeking permission to drive change from the grass roots upwards.”
(Thank you Ant Frau Poligy)https://www.facebook.com/ant.elevision?fref=t
In 1989 East Germans began to fight back and soon realized that if you are determined AND have the numbers you are unstoppable.