Monday, November 09, 2009

20 Years

November 9th, 1989 was a historic day. It was the day the Berlin Wall fell. Of course, the way to the German reunion wasn't just a single day occurrence, but the fall of the Wall became the symbol of freedom for the people of East Germany (and ultimately what was known as the East Block, several countries in central and eastern Europe that had been under Communist rule). It all started in the summer of '89, when Hungary decided to open up the border to Austria, and allowed East Germans to cross into Western territory. Later, the Czechs followed suit and began to allow East Germans to travel into West Germany. I was only 11 at the time, but I vividly remember watching the news, and seeing trains packed with people crossing into the "forbidden" land. Soon, people inside East Germany began to congregate and organize, and started up the "Monday Demonstrations". All of these events, as well as involvement from great foreign leaders on both sides of the Iron Curtain, ultimately led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and subsequently the Communist government. Initially, my little 11 year old mind had a difficult time grasping the gravity of what was happening. In fact, I dare say most East Germans had difficulty grasping just what all of this would mean for them. Freedom, after all, came at a price. High unemployment rates (we're talking upward of 20% in some parts of East Germany), a struggling economy, and a continued rift between East and West are realities many Germans face to this day. Facing capitalism was, in many ways, a rude awakening for many people. Living under a Communist dictatorship was no easy lot, but neither is being slave to the cruel realities of a capitalist society. A realization many are still struggling with. Still, I believe the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is cause for celebration, and hope for the continued effort on both sides of the now invisible wall to turn Germany back into a truly united country. :o)


Shannon said...

I thought of you every time this was mentioned on the news today. I was a freshman at BYU and vividly remember reading about it in the paper. I can't imagine what is was like to live it, though. I think it's a great anniversary. Look at all the good that's been done since- including Matt's mission to the Czech Republic. I can guarantee that was not even a dream when I was in high school.

Frugal or Cheap? said...

Wow, thanks for sharing :)

Karin said...

I remember this day. There were tears all around when my mom phoned her cousin and talked for a long time. I remember being surprised that the cousin remained to live in the East. Of course, I didn't understand all of the ramifications at the time. I'm not sure anyone did. Thanks for this post. :-)