Monday, November 09, 2009

Party Like Its 1989: Berlin Wall Falls; Obama Votes 'Present'

From the AP, devoid of Cold War context:

"(AP) BERLIN (AP) - With prayers, music and pomp, Germany on Monday remembered the 20th anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall fell, sending East Germans flooding west and setting in motion events that soon led to the country's reunification.

Chancellor Angela Merkel - reunited Germany's first leader to grow up in the communist east - started the day with President Horst Koehler and other leaders at a prayer service at a former East Berlin church that was a rallying point for opposition activists in 1989.

"We remember the tears of joy, the faces of delight, the liberation," Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber told the congregation at the Gethsemane Church.

East Germany's fortified border crumbled on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989, after 28 years holding in the country's citizens - a pivotal moment in the collapse of communism in Europe that followed a confused announcement by a senior official.

At the end of a plodding news conference, Politburo spokesman Guenter Schabowski offhandedly said East Germany was lifting restrictions on travel across its border with West Germany.

Pressed on when the regulation would take effect, he looked down at his notes and stammered: "As far as I know, this enters into force ... this is immediately, without delay."

Schabowski has said he didn't know that the change wasn't supposed to be announced until the following morning.

East Berliners streamed toward border crossings. Facing huge crowds and lacking instructions, border guards opened the gates - and the wall was on its way into history.

Merkel said she was among the East Germans who, hearing Schabowski's words, thought "something might happen on the evening of Nov. 9." Like many others, she made her way across.

"We were speechless and happy," the 55-year-old recalled in an interview with ARD television.

Music from Bon Jovi and Beethoven was to recall the joy of the border's opening, which led to German reunification less than a year later and the swift demolition of most of the wall - which snaked around West Berlin, a capitalist enclave deep inside East Germany, for 96 miles (155 kilometers).

Memorials also were planned to the 136 people killed trying to cross the border. Candles were lit and 1,000 towering plastic foam dominoes placed along the wall's route to be tipped over.

Also expected in Berlin for the ceremonies were the leaders of all 27 European Union countries and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

But no mention, whatsoever, of Dear Leader's conspicuous absence from the festivities. I wonder if Zombie Reagan was sent an invite?

Plus, true to dissonant liberal fashion, that low tower of amoral, mis-guided youths, MTV, erects a stage wall to block the view of a free, televised concert to celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall.
"True, there were no minefields or watchtowers, but the new temporary wall erected before the performance certainly sent the wrong signals.

Only 10,000 fans in possession of previously allocated free tickets were allowed to pass through the checkpoints — yes, checkpoints — to listen to the Irish band.

“It’s completely ridiculous that they are blocking the view,” said Louis-Pierre Boily, 23, a Canadian who failed to get tickets."

This irony is sure to be lost on those wards of the modern day nanny state, nursed on MTV pablum.

So how about a lil Cold War context? Why we celebrate the fall of the Wall.
"Today, through the lens of historical hindsight, what happened seems preordained: a terrible system of government and a wrong-headed system of economics collapsing on themselves. But at the time, or at least just before the time, not many people believed or dared to hope that the landscape of Europe would or could change so rapidly – and peacefully.

A continent scarred by war and divided by barbed wire has now been unified for two decades. In a world of continuing turmoil, instability and terrorism, with its leading country beset by enormous problems of its own making, with shifts of economic and political power occurring, what a wonderful celebration we can allow ourselves on this 20th anniversary."

"Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!"

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