Today, August 13, 2011 marks the 50th anniversary since the building of the Berlin Wall, which separated not just the city of Berlin but also the West from the communist East. Besides separation the Berlin Wall also took millions of lives.
Among these lives were those of the following groups of people – those who:
- tried to escape from East Germany in order to get into the West
- tried to espace from East Europe in order to get into the West
- stayed in East Europe and died of repressions of all kind because of their dissidence
Others – mainly those who lived close to the Berlin Wall on the east side of the city – were mentally traumatized, like Gitta Heinrich from East Germany who developped Mauerkrankheit, also known as wall sickness, an illness that
The Berlin Wall, which was built under the pretext of a barrier to keep fascism away from socialism, and from building a socialist order, technically served as a means to prevent emigration from the entire Eastern Bloc into the West in search for better life including but not limited to freedom, democracy, and respect for their hard work. Anyone who dared try to cross the wall from the east side in order to get into the west side of Berlin faced death. From the east the Berlin Wall was a border about as equally secured as the entire border between South Korea and North Korea. It was abundant with armed guards and mines unlike its west side which was guardless and mineless. Movement from East Germany to West Germany was forbidden except for very special occasions.
As the Berlin Mayor reportedly said today, the memories of the Berlin Wall should be kept alive and passed from generation onto generation “to maintain freedom and democracy and to do everything so that such injustices may never happen again.” I agree with him and I am sure that with the advancement of information technology the memories of the Berlin Wall will be kept alive for generations to come. I predict that these memories will be kept alive at least until we reach to a point of freedom and democracy where any thought of separation is very unpopular. At least hundreds of years have to pass in order for such a world to become reality even if we disregard the overall state of the economy as a factor likely to create separatist sentiments. However, this doesn’t mean that we should not strive to attain such a world.