Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Fall of the Berlin Wall - 25 Years After

The opening of the Berlin Wall took place twenty-five years ago today, and it remains an example of how nothing is forever. There was a time when communism was expected to remain in force in Eastern Europe and the Cold War was seen as endless. The best we could do, we were led to believe, was contain the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellite nations. 
The pent-up resentments of life under totalitarian socialism, though, led to the breaking point for many people behind the Iron Curtain. Without freedom to live as the please and to choose how to be governed, and without the freedoms of speech and religion, the people of Eastern Europe - with the weight of Pope John Paul II behind them - sent communism into the dustbin of history. 
Many regard the fight against Soviet communism as a right-wing obsession, but the fall of the Berlin Wall was happy news to all free people. My favorite moment of the festivities in the aftermath of the opening of the wall was when Crosby, Stills and Nash appeared in Berlin and performed an impromptu acoustic set for cheering Germans, enjoying the moment with the locals. "We wanted to go purely to be there," Graham Nash later recalled, "when that wall came down. That wall meant insanity, miscommunication, non-communication, psychological control of a population. To me, to us, it was a symbol of what was wrong with humanity." 
Germany would reunite less than a year later, and the work of re-integrating the six German states that made up the Communist German Democratic Republic (East Germany) continues even to this day, but the restoration of freedom in eastern Germany and in the countries formerly dominated by the now-dissolved Soviet Union only proves that not only is oppression not forever, but anything - even a "new birth of freedom," as Abraham Lincoln envisioned America after the Civil War - is possible.

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