Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Wall

The story of Berlin left off at the end of World War II and the start of the cold war. As you are probably aware, the cold war was about political ideologies; Communism versus Capitalism. The country Germany, having lost the war, was in a political mess. The two conflicting ideologies fought on the same side during the war and Germany was caught right in the middle.

To the West of them was capitalism and to the East, communism. It was a natural compromise to split the country into East and West. Berlin, the capital, was found in the East and the capitalists surely did not want to lose the capital, so it was split into East and West as well.

This split did not initially split families as they were free to roam between the two sides of the city. One evening in August of 1961 a lady took her sick child to hospital, leaving another child at home. She spent the night with her child in the hospital. The hospital and her home were in the two different parts of Berlin. While spending the night at the hospital a barb wire fence went up surrounding West Berlin, which did not permit her to return home where one child was waiting for her. Eventually a concrete wall replaced the barb wire which made it even more difficult to cross. It wasn't until the wall fell 28 years later that this woman would be reunited with her child.

It's funny, the wall surrounded West Berlin but it was not to trap the West inside. They were in fact free to come and go as they pleased. The wall was erected by the East to stop East Germans from defecting to the West.

A lot of the tour was showing locations that buildings used to exist. Many buildings failed to survive the bombings of World War II. There were a lot of reconstructions of buildings, some of these reconstructions used parts of the originals that survived.

I really liked the feel of Berlin. It was very open and unlike any city I have encountered. It is a very new city because of it's recent history which might sound strange because of how old it is and how much other history there also is. Any person that I met that was at least as old as me would remember the birth of the city, when the wall fell.

It actually fell by accident. East Berlin decided to make it look like the government was reforming and opening it's borders as other countries in the East had begun doing. In doing so, the government also had a list of stipulations that must be followed in order to cross the wall. The man in charge of delivering this announcement publicly was not at the meeting and was merely handed a stack of notes detailing it. He did not read through it all and when the media began to question him after his proclamation that the people would be allowed to cross over the wall instead of reading the stipulations he said it would be effective immediately.

This was broadcast live and upon hearing this, East Berliners began flocking to the wall demanding to be permitted to cross. That is how the wall fell, by mistake.

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