Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Wall Was To Keep People In and Ideas Out

How The Wall Fell - "When the Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago, it did not fall from sheer wear and tear of tyranny. People actively chose to destroy it. They tore down that iconic wall not only with pickaxes, hammers and bare hands, but as a culminating act of decades of sacrifice, courage, determination and a complex, globally contested war of ideas."

I met a guy who was walking down one of the Berlin Wall streets when he said that an old guy can tearing out of the apartments with a hammer and chisel and just started attacking the Wall. After the shock wore off he rushed off thinking it was best as a foreigner not to be right there next to the crazy guy if things got out of control.

He didn't get far before thousands of people came streaming down the streets and started attacking the Wall. Not having any idea what was going on, he ducked into a Gasthaus (tavern) and the people left in there were screaming about freedom and the Wall coming down and the TV was doing the same. It didn't happen all at once and you can go to plenty of other sites to read the history of the events leading up to the final fall.

The President of East Germany, in probably the greatest "... but it looked good on paper" moments ever, read a speech (a typical dry and boring empty thing) to try and calm the people. But something about how he said it made everything change. The people stormed the border stations, the border guards were busy asking themselves, "Did he just say what I thought he said." and calling their leaders and those leaders were calling upstairs as well. The phone lines were jammed and no one dare shoot since he said what he said.

And the Iron Curtain was swept aside. I have some of the Iron Curtain a few little chunks of good steel, we got as we watched them roll it up and carry it away as scrap.

We had crossed that border many times over the years. We still had family there. We visited as often as we could.

The thing I remember most about crossing that border was how dark it was on the other side. It could literally be a hot summer day, yet when crossing that border, like only one other, was like crossing into a cold, dark cave. I could see the sun and feel the warmth of it on my hand but something about that place was cold, dark and grey.

The people were good and all but there was something about the system that just sucked all the hope and life out of all of them. I could understand how those that remembered freedom could pack themselves into suitcase, hide themselves inside the seats and even engines of cars, modify cars to drive under the border gates, or build hot air balloons in secret to fly over the border.

There was something bad about that place. It took me a long time to find out why it was so dark there. It came while passing another border the city limits of Dachau.