Thirty Years Ago Today: The Berlin Wall Comes Down
Thirty years ago today, November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. Built in 1961, it prevented East Berliners from visiting West Berlin, and many died trying to escape the East German Communist regime. History is important, even though in today’s world young people think it should be erased.
On a warm August night, police began barricading the street between East and West. Apartments that faced the west had their windows sealed by police so they couldn’t look out towards freedom. The streets and sidewalk below were in West Berlin. but the buildings were stuck in East Berlin.
“Between 1961 and 1989, thousands of East Germans made risky border crossings. Around 5,000 of them crossed over the Berlin Wall at great personal risk—and their attempts to do so ranged from sneaky to suicidal.
German Democratic Republic officials decided to close the Berlin border for good in 1961, spurred by a spate of defections from refugees who used Berlin’s relatively permeable border to escape East Germany. By August 1961, when officials abruptly sealed the border, up to 1,700 people a day were leaving through Berlin and claiming refugee status once they reached the west. On the night of August 12-13, 1961, workers erected barbed wire and temporary barriers, trapping East Berliners.”
And so it began. President John F. Kennedy told West Berliners in a June 1963 speech that all free men should be proud to call themselves Berliners. “Ich bin ein Berliner” – I am a Berliner.
“West-facing windows on buildings near the Wall in East Berlin were bricked up to prevent people from escaping to the western half of the city. Later, buildings close to the Wall were torn down and the Wall itself was modernized, built taller, and had barriers, spotlights, guard towers, watchdogs and more added to deter people fleeing to the West. That area became known as the ‘death strip.'”
By 1987, President Ronald Reagan was talking with Soviet President Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, who was the last leader of the old Soviet Union. Reagan stood firmly on the idea that the Berlin Wall should come down, and in a speech he flatly stated, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down that wall.”
This is the reason why Presidents should be allowed, even encouraged to dialogue with enemies – something the Democrats loathe. Unless they’re doing it themselves for personal gain.
In November of 1989, Gorbachev ordered the 380,000 Soviet troops present in Germany not to interfere in the tearing down of the Berlin wall, according to RT. After an announcement by the leader of the Communist East Berlin that stated East Berliners were now free to enter West Berlin, thousands of people flocked to the wall, climbing over it, and hugging their western friends. The celebrations continued into the night. The wall was literally torn down by the people who hated it. It was the death nel of the USSR, and the beginning of a new day. The USSR finally collapsed in 1991.
For those of us who watched that night on television, it was amazing to see. People who had suffered under the Communist regime finally had hope, finally found a new horizon. Today, remnants of that wall remain, along with memorials with pictures of those who died trying to escape.
Modern young people have no idea of the suffering of people under Communism. It’s why memorials like the one in Berlin should remain. History is important.
Today we fight communism on our college campuses, high schools, and grade schools. The wall is being built without bricks and cement. Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev once said “We’ll bury you.” And he was not kidding. The fight for freedom remains.
Featured photo: Screenshot via History.com