Thursday, November 13, 2003

No 20.

On the day the wall came down
They threw the locks onto the ground
And with glasses high we raised a cry for freedom had arrived.

Song: A Great Day For Freedom
Album: The Division Bell

I quite clearly remember the day the Berlin Wall came down fourteen years ago. All the scenes of people dancing on top of it, attacking the concrete with pick axes and cheering whenever a section of it was toppled. Even if I didn’t quite know what was going on (I was only twelve, had been learning German for just a couple of months and wouldn’t touch the subject in history for another three years), I must have picked up enough from the news reports in the lead up to it to realise that something momentous was happening.

Five years later, in the summer of 1994, I went to Berlin to do some research into the Wall’s history for my A-levels. I went round all of the sights; Checkpoint Charlie, the old Stasi headquarters, the bunker where Hitler supposedly committed suicide, the Brandenburg Gate. There were even a few stretches of the Wall still standing. Huge slabs of concrete with graffiti covering the side of it that used to be in West Berlin. It was all very thought provoking.

Back in ’89 I remember there was a feeling that the world had changed and that it was suddenly a much safer place. That feeling was completely understandable in the light of such a clear indication of the collapse of communism in Russia but looking back on it from here it was fairly na├»ve as well. The world had certainly changed but there is still far too much strife and conflict in it to be rightly called safe.

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