Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bye, Bye, Berlin Wall

On August 13, 1961, the citizens of Berlin awoke to the sound of Soviet tanks approaching the Brandenburg gate in support of construction workers who were about to build one of the most palpable symbols of communist repression yet seen. The wall was built to stem the tide of freedom-loving Germans in the Soviet sector fleeing to freedom in the West.

On August 13, 2011, fifty years after the Soviet tanks, soldiers and wall-builders arrived, Germans and international visitors rallied at the Brandenburg Gate to memorialize the 136 Germans who died attempting to circumvent, tunnel under or climb over the wall to the freedom of West Berlin. One of the prices of freedom is having to put up with the lunatic fringe. During the minute of silence being observed during the ceremonies, German leftists who long for the days of communist repression, noisily disturbed the peace.

Like the language-twisting leftists in the West, the Soviets were also very good at using words that hide the truth. The East German police and the Soviet occupiers called the Wall "the anti-fascist protection rampart." A wall is generally built to keep people out, but there was no mad rush of "fascists" attempting to flee to the worker's paradise in the East. The escapes all went one way--West.

Until the wall was built, the choke-point at the Brandenburg Gate and the nearby environs were the path to freedom for 144,000 freedom-seekers in 1949 alone. In 1960, the year before the wall went up, the number was 199,000. In the final year of 1961, before the wall finally stopped the flow, over 207,000 made the perilous journey.

East Berlin looked very much like it did right after the second world war was concluded. Hundreds of thousands of Germans lived in the ruins and Soviet-style blockhouses put up after the war. But the work was in the West. When the Wall went up, many German families were left without their jobs to which they commuted each day. If life was bad before the Wall, it became unbearable after. Starvation was at the door nearly every day for thousands of families.

Meanwhile in the West, the rubble was removed, and all-new houses, apartments, shops, and office buildings sprang up like mushrooms. Growing wealth and freedom were everywhere in the western part of the city, and the East Berliners could see it. It was a constant reminder of their miserable, enslaved existence, and many chose to risk their lives rather than live like rats in a cage.

As amazing as it may seem, Germany's Left Party holds 76 of the 622 seats in the Reichstag. Nothing will deter their socialist dreams. They are blind to history, reality and plain common sense. The deaths of brave young men and women risking everything to get to the West means nothing to them. Left Party co-chair Gesine Lotzsch said the Wall was a logical consequence of Germany's attack on Russia, ignoring the fact that the Wall went up six years after the war was over, twenty years after Hitler invaded Russia, and during a time when Germany had no serious military of its own to attack anyone.

Like those in the United States who are convinced that warmonger Ronald Reagan was maneuvered into peace by democrat Mikhail Gorbachev, Left Party members believe that the Wall prevented a war between the Soviet Union and the United States. And all of the party's members agree that World War II and Germany's expansionism justified the securing of the borders of the East German Soviet puppet state. What we saw as a blight on the human environmental landscape, they see in fond remembrance as an island of Stalinesque tranquility.

Fortunately that is by far the minority view in Germany. The majority view is well-stated by Jurgen Litfin in Der Spiegel. "The deaths of the martyrs who tried to escape to freedom show that we are not defenseless in the face of tyranny, and that freedom is one of the most valuable things that we possess." Not quite as stirring as Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall," but equally meaningful.


Tehachapi Tom said...

The human desire for freedom is an amazing part of us all. The Berlin wall couldn't stop it the Caribbean doesn't stop the effort. It does not require Communism to fuel the efforts of folks yearning to be free, check Haiti and the escape rafts.
How any thinking person can embrace socialism and or any form of repressive government escapes me.
Surely there must be some conscience that tweaks totalitarian government heads.
You did a good job on this thank you for the continuing education.
More people need to read articles of this nature to be reminded and enlightened of our world history.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, it is entirely beyond my comprehension how even leftists could look back on East Germany 1961-89 as a place of peace and tranquillity. I guess facing reality and giving up their socialist dream really is too painful for them. At least they haven't (yet) pulled the rest of Germany into the pit with them.

Anonymous said...

Tehachapi Tom: Remember the old saying: "Communism is just socialism in a hurry." I agree that most people want to be free. I'm just mystified by the apparently large number of people who would choose repressive "security" over freedom.

Anonymous said...

T-Rav: One thing about freedom is that it can be a little scary since there are no guarantees. There is apparently a percentage of people who would rather have life completely predictable, with no chance of great rewards, but no chance of failure either. In the US, they're called Democrats.

rlaWTX said...

It seems that those who are looking for that "stability" in a socialistic/communistic govt all expect that those who end up controlling said govt will either [1] be themselves (those in the Reichstag) or [2] be just like them in purpose & principle (Dems). This overwhelming "they just didn't do it right" excuse seems to be a way of managing the cognitive dissonance caused by the rift between the evidence that people yearn for freedom and the fact that installing such a "utopia" requires totalitarianism.

(what was the date of the Wall's fall? '91?)

Anonymous said...

rlaWTX: The vast majority of the people who support that kind of government are too lazy and too cowardly to want to reach power positions, so they are easily exploited by those who do want those positions. Somehow, that majority never admits to itself that they live in egalitarian poverty and misery so that the few ambitious types can maneuver themselves into positions of unrestricted power and great luxury.

The fall of the Wall was a "process," but most historians would date it to November of 1989, when the East German government declared that all Germans were free to move back and forth from East to West. November 9, 1989 was the day the Germans from both sides crawled and climbed their way to the top of the wall to celebrate the end of the partition. The actual pulling-down of the wall took some time. Germany was officially reunified on October 3, 1990.

AndrewPrice said...

Actually, what they should do is recreate a small section of East Germany in Berlin for the pinkos, complete with wall to keep them in. They could move in and let the government oppress them to their heart's content. And of course, we don't let them out. Then we could send school kids on tour to show them the horrors of communism.

We could do the same thing here in the People's Democratic Republic of California.

This sounds like a win-win all around.

Joel Farnham said...


The way this was commemorated this weekend is like on July Fourth something happened this day a few years ago. By the way, did you know Amy Winehouse is still dead? And Obama turned back the recession but there was bad luck and so it is back. Sad about Amy.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: Damn, both of those ideas are great.

BevfromNYC said...

Chances are that the people who want to return to communism because they can do it better are young and have never really LIVED under a totalitarian regime.

Hey Andrew and LawHawk - They should hook up with this billionaire. He wants to build little Utopian societies on spent offshore oil rigs.


Anonymous said...

Bev: I'm sure the social welfare egalitarianism nonsense suckers who voted these people in are largely post-Wall. But the delegates themselves go back as far as Brezhnev and Khruschev times. Most of the Left Party delegates are old neo-Stalinists.

After reading the article, I now know why I get all that phising mail supposedly coming from PayPal. LOL At least they had the good sense to plan their first utopia off the coast of the other utopia--San Francisco.

patti said...

law: as a child of a german who lived thru the last ww, i can tell you freedom has a deep meaning to me and my family. when the wall came down, and chunks of it where put on display throughout the states, our town in particular, i had to see this symbol of oppression and hate. the sign said "don't touch" but how could i resist? it was like laying hands on the ruined lives of those trapped behind the wall.

i loved reagan more that day, along with every soul that fought against such evil.

Anonymous said...

Patti: My mother's side of the family was stuck with the Nazis in Bavaria, but free afterwards. My father's side of the family was in the old Prussian homeland, and many got stuck behind that wall to be oppressed for a second time. Both sides have seen oppression up close and personal, and none of them want to return to it. The younger ones identify with the West, and America particularly, and want nothing to do with leftist daydreaming.

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