Where were you on 09 November 1989?
A symbol of oppression and tyranny, the Berlin Wall was constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961. It cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany. The Wall symbolized the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. For many, it symbolized freedom vs. tyranny. Armed guards and checkpoints. Travel restrictions. A totalitarian state.
Twenty-five years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell. The process started two years earlier. It started with a speech from an American president who thundered, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
“Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German separated from his fellow men…. As long as this gate is closed…, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.” Watch the full speech here.
Do you remember when we had a president who was proud to be an American? Who brought respect and dignity to the office? By way of contrast, here are some highlights from the address Prez Obola would probably have delivered in the same context:
- Okay Miki, pinky swear?
- We don’t have a wall strategy yet
- How many carbon emissions is this Wall producing?
- Where’s my pen and phone?
- “You didn’t build that”
Cure coming in 2016.
After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. Contrary to popular belief the wall’s actual demolition did not begin until Summer 1990 and was not completed until 1992. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.