The Wall

It's revealing how much more significant the pulling down of the Berlin wall now seems twenty years after the actual event. Naturally in retrospect we see everything in a clearer perspective. Twenty years ago it was considered more a German affair. Up to fifteen years ago one might be more concerned about the cost of the reunification, and the fear of hosting too many 'Easterners'.
Today we realise that it wasn't 'only' Germany that was divided, it was Europe, and by extension the whole world.

This seems to indicate that in the last twenty years we have made positive social and geopolitical progress, and this timely realisation has spurred our leaders to get together to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this historic event and hail the courage of the Berliners.

The Wall existed from 1961 until 1989. Escapees numbered around 5000 of which it's thought that up to two hundred died in the attempt.
The Communists referred to the wall as the 'Antifascist Protection Wall' (Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) while The West Berliners would sometimes refer to it as 'the Wall of Shame', after Willy Brandt had made this allusion.

The origin of the wall was the Berlin Blockade imposed by Soviet Russia in 1948 due to disagreements regarding the reconstruction of Germany. It was to represent the division of doctrine and part of the Iron Curtain. But the actual wall was eventually considered imperative to stop the 'brain-drain'. The officials of Eastern Germany were growing increasingly preoccupied by the flow of  well educated young people emigrating to the west.

It has been suggested that the instigator of the wall initiative came from Nikita Khrushchev.
The building of the wall started in August, 1961. Two months prior to this the Socialist Unity Party made a public declaration that- 'No one has any intention of erecting a wall'.

But six years beforehand, to underline the seriousness of any 'flight from the republic', an East German propaganda booklet was published in 1955 :

'Both from the moral standpoint as well as in terms of the interests of the whole German nation, leaving the GDR is an act of political and moral backwardness and depravity.
Those who let themselves be recruited objectively serve West German Reaction and militarism, whether they know it or not. Is it not despicable when for the sake of a few alluring job offers or other false promises about a "guaranteed future" one leaves a country in which the seed for a new and more beautiful life is sprouting, and is already showing the first fruits, for the place that favours a new war and destruction?
Is it not an act of political depravity when citizens, whether young people, workers, or members of the intelligentsia, leave and betray what our people have created through common labour in our republic to offer themselves to the American or British secret services or work for the West German factory owners, Junkers, or militarists? Does not leaving the land of progress for the morass of an historically outdated social order demonstrate political backwardness and blindness? ...
Workers throughout Germany will demand punishment for those who today leave the German Democratic Republic, the strong bastion of the fight for peace, to serve the deadly enemy of the German people, the imperialists and militarists...'

Yet there are still other walls of division around us and elsewhere. There are still people intent on building them. They include the walls of established ways of thinking, walls of political hypocrisy, idéology, walls of prejudice, of racism, of religious extremism, of fear and hate. The walls that ensconce weakness. 
Text  © Mirino (PW) November, 2009. Source Wikipedia. Satellite image with thanks to Nasa

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