The 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Morgan Brown, Staff Writer

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Saturday, November 9th, will be the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that separated East Berlin from West Berlin. This pivotal event in the history of Germany and the world marked the fall of the Iron Curtain, an ideological border that divided the Western world during the Cold War (1947-1991).

Germany’s capital was split, as was the rest of the country, by the Allied Forces after World War II. East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic, was occupied by the Soviet Union and West Germany (or the Federal Republic of Germany) by Great Britain, France, and the United States. With West Berlin being a political enclave within the east, its neighbor became the capital of the GDR. The GDR was a one-party socialist republic, while the FRG was a parliamentary constitutional republic.

East Germans began moving to West Berlin in the 1950s to enjoy a capitalist lifestyle where they could make more money and rise in society, as well as to avoid the repressive policing of the State Security Service, or Stasi. Constructed in the early 1960s, the Berlin Wall was built to stop emigration from East Berlin to West Berlin. Because of this, families were separated and many lives were ruined as a result. More than 100,000 people attempted to bypass the wall from 1961-1989, with 5000 succeeding. Also, over 140 died in their attempts to cross, many being shot by guards while others drowned in the surrounding rivers.

Since its fall, historians around the world have studied the Berlin Wall and the repercussions of its operation. Resident AP Euro teacher Nicole Ritter certainly recognizes the impact of the wall’s destruction, saying she felt happy for the families being reunited. “I was a selfish teenager with all the struggles of being a teen… Berlin, Germany was not on my radar much. But, learning that communism was failing was a sign that America, capitalism, and democracy were the winners of the Cold War. That’s what the falling wall meant to me.” 

Us as Americans need to think about the problems that Germany has faced in the 20th century, most notably the reoccurring division between its peoples and how that still affects them even now, 30 years later. Ritter eloquently states, “Throughout its history, Germany fought for its own existence… Then it experienced the vilification of post-WWI and fascism leading to WWII, followed by its split between East and West Germany. These rifts continue to influence the 21st-century political life as individuals try to shape the future. In summary, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a symbolic win for freedom and democracy, but it didn’t bring about immediate peace and love as Germany continues to find its way.” 

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