Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Wall

In November 1989 we had not long moved to our large house in Glen Iris and we were extensively renovating, like knocking down internal brick walls. What a mess. The dust was horrific and one of the tradesmen had a new fangled car telephone connected to his car horn and every twenty minutes, so it seemed, he would receive a call, alerted to the call by his car horn. That our neighbours were less keen on this new form of communication than we were is not saying much.

Amid the rubble of our renovations, rubble was appearing elsewhere in the world and because of how busy we were with so many tradespeople about, we remained somewhat oblivious to the fall of Berlin Wall. That is not to say we did not know, but we missed all the finer detail to be found daily in the various media. I really feel like I missed some world changing history because I was preoccupied with other matters. Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall and the world was never the same again.

Now, possibly inaccurate history lesson #101. After World War 2, the victors, The West and Russia, divided Germany into two parts, the east controlled by Russia, or The Soviet Union if you like, and the west controlled by western countries. These two maps, the first from Wikipedia and the second from Encarta show you clearly he situation at the time.


Within East Germany was Berlin, a city also divided into East Berlin and West Berlin with the West in control of one half and Russia the other and surrounded by East Germany. An arbitrary wall was built to mark the division and generally East Berliners were not allowed into West Berlin. Quite a number died while trying to escape to West Berlin, often by climbing over the wall.


With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the wall came down and the two Germanys were reunited. One of my blog mates may just be in Berlin not too long after the anniversary of the fall of the wall.

Here is how to have your own private celebration of the occasion. Do you remember the early 60s song West of the Wall? Best you do this when you are home alone, lest someone yell at you 'wtf are you playing'. Now turn up your speakers and as you click play.....



also click play on this one, a short feature about the wall of about the same length as the song above. Perhaps pause them to allow for buffering. The one below also has music, so you will get a cacophony of sound and it perfectly fits the chaos of the occasion but you do have to have them both quite loud. This clip has some clever then and now merges, so watch it again on its own if you want. It is a bit shiver down the spine at times.



Now Gosia in Poland is probably a bit puzzled at this point because as she reads this, as it will still be the 8th of November there. I wonder what if Gosia has strong memories of the fall of the wall? And what about Gattina? I am sure she was safely in Belgium by then.

18 comments:

  1. Andrew, at that time I was at secondary school and honestly I was not interested in it. But I remember very well the break of Soviet Union. But 1990 was very important year because this year I started University and I can travel in Europe without any problems.. It was unusual time because my country became independent and Soviet Army left Torun where I studying.. So my adulthood I have started in new Europe.

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    1. Gosia, ha, you were a teenager with thoughts of boys and not walls. As dramatic as the changes were, I guess on a daily basis life did not change dramatically.

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  2. Definitely it was not safe time here as I remember stories of my parents who lived in communist country,. But I can't imagine living in the communism I prefer democracy...

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    1. Democracy with controlled capitalism is what I like.

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  3. I do like the second video, its touching. I recall the the song, just. I remember the Wall coming down.

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    1. WA, having now seen some of Germany, it is hard to imagine what it must have been like when the wall was up.

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  4. I do remember the Wall coming down. And wish my father had been alive to see it.

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    1. EC, what was the gap? Maybe he knew it would come down eventually. There was a long lead up to it.

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  5. I've never known much about the wall and now I'm confused. Was there just one wall separating Berlin east an west or was there also another wall separating the country as a whole? Two walls? You'd think I'd know more, but my parents rarely spoke to us of Germany, we just knew that we came from there. Their lack of information probably fuelled my lack of interest.

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    1. River, I am reluctant to answer as I don't want to misinform, but I think a wall circled West Berlin to ensure it was island in East Germany. The West and East German border, I am not sure, but as a border, it would have been well fortified and patrolled. Too late now, but it is a pity your parents did not tell you more. It is the personal memories that, while not necessarily accurate, indicate people feelings and fine detail.

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  6. Thanks Andrew, 'West of the Wall', a song fondly remembered from my teenage years.

    One of the best foreign films of recent years, it won the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, is 'The Lives of Others' set in East Germany in the Communist and post Communist era. It is a brilliant and chilling film about life under the observation of the Stasi. Occasionally screened on SBS and World Movies it is highly recommended.

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    1. Victor, I did think of you when I was watching it. I have read a bit in the past about East Germany and the Stasi and how neighbour would spy on neighbour, so I know the bones and to know more would frankly be too depressing for me. Human nature is a complex thing.

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  7. I just watched a show on SBS about when the wall went up, I don't remember when, but I was surprised how quickly it went up only about 24 hours.
    Merle...............

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    1. That must have been interesting Merle. Wish I had caught it.

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  8. I can't wait to get to Berlin and explore its history. 3 days til I leave!!

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    1. Three days! Saves me from emailing you to ask. How come you flying into Gatwick?

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  9. I'm flying into Heathrow then flying out of Gatwick when I go to Amsterdam.

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