In August, 1961, at the age of 13, I remember watching the black-and-white television news footage of armed soldiers pushing through a crowd of people, thrusting them aside to the left and right. Ignoring the cries and pleas from those around them, other soldiers unrolled fencing wire and began erecting a tall fence. When a mother tried to push past them to the other side, they grabbed her roughly and flung her back behind them. She picked herself up and clung to the wire, on the other side of which stood her little boy, crying and shocked. I was very angry and deeply upset.
For days after this broadcast, the television news showed people crossing the border, from West to East in a steady stream in an effort to reunite with their families. But no-one was allowed to cross the other way. The wire was not strong enough to stop the rebellious ones, so masons moved in and erected a concrete wall. Those who tried to cross that wall, were shot. I could not believe that people could be so unfeeling, and could treat people as items. It was the first of many lessons about the iniquities of oppressors at all levels, worldwide, that I was to learn as I grew.
By the time the wall came down in 1990, the people of Berlin were not the only ones to rejoice – the world, involved via the global television broadcasts, rejoiced with them. they saw families reunited, as holes were sledge-hammered through the grafittied panels, and people clambered over the rubble in their haste to reach FREEDOM!
After many days the escapees from the East began to make their way home again. With the wall gone it was not necessary to live on the West side to have freedom. With the wall gone Berlin was once again a united city, socially at least. By the time the wall came down the younger people were East Berliners – only the older people and those dispossessed of family and home remembered how it had been.
Pieces of wall were sold as souvenirs. A rock concert by Pink Floyd called The Wall was held over Hitler’s Bunker, where the wall was built and knocked down amidst a spectacular light and sound show. The wall had been placed into History as an EVENT. How many, I wonder, will only remember the rock concert in years to come.
(C) Copyright Jud House April 1997
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