Daily Archives: November 9, 2009

Berlin Wall Down 20 Years Later

Even if it is not worthy enough for a United States president to travel to the historic site today to recognize the significance, many in the U.S. and abroad do recognize the great history made.  Thousands cheer 20 years since fall of Berlin Wall.  Yahoo. 

“That night, you couldn’t stop people,” Kross said. “They lifted the barrier and everyone poured through. We saw it first on TV, normally it was very quiet up here, but that night we could hear the footsteps of those crossing, tap, tap, tap.”

Merkel, who was one of thousands to cross that night, recalled that “before the joy of freedom came, many people suffered.”

She lauded Gorbachev, with whom she shared an umbrella amid a crush of hundreds, eager for a glimpse of the man many still consider a hero for his role in pushing reform in the Soviet Union.

“You made this possible — you courageously let things happen, and that was much more than we could expect,” she said.

Later, Merkel also thanked Germany’s neighbors to the East. She welcomed several leaders who dared to stand up for democracy, including Poland’s 1980s pro-democracy leader, Lech Walesa, and Miklos Nemeth, Hungary’s last prime minister before communism collapsed. The two men were tapped to push the first domino.

The History Place brings us to the time when former U.S. President Ronald Regn made a speech to the people of West Berlin on June 12, 1987, at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall.  Many equate Reagan’s speech as the impetus for the beginning of the fall of Communism, the Cold War, and eventually the Berlin Wall.  Some excerpts from the speech.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere–that sphere that towers over all Berlin–the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.

As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner: “This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.” Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

And indeed, it did not.

93% Say Fall of Berlin Wall Important To World History.  Rasmussen.


Image courtesy of
http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-tear-down.htm.

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