Saturday, November 8, 2014

The 30th Anniversary of the Opening of the Berlin Wall

Updated November 8, 2019
This is a genuine piece of the Berlin wall.

Painted on one side with graffiti, that perhaps protested the wall’s existence, this piece of the wall continues to remind me of the strength of the will of a people to be free.  This piece of concrete is the most dense piece of concrete I have ever touched.  Do you remember the effort it took to tear down that wall?
Do you remember why that wall went up? (click here)

You may be wondering why a tea blog  that focuses on Korean tea and tea ware would even consider writing a post on the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall.
I personally visited both East and West Berlin as a student before the wall went up.  The Berlin Wall has always intrigued me.  It symbolized the great political divide within one country.  Its destruction personifies both freedom and unification. 
The Berlin Wall was opened by the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.  Its collapse also signaled the end of the Soviet Bloc and their control of Eastern Europe.  The collapse of the Berlin Wall began a process equal in scale to the collapse of the Roman Empire.
Interestingly, the opening of the wall was triggered by a mistake.  The Politburo member Guenther Schabowski was speaking on TV and in error said permits would be issued for East Berlin citizens to visit West Berlin.  He should have said something like, “permits to selected East Berlin citizens would be issued”.  When Schabowski was asked when this would happen he answered, ”immediately”.  Guenther Schabowski was a member of the ruling Socialist Unity Party in East Germany who helped force East German leader Erich Honecker from power a month earlier because of mounting public pressure across the Soviet Bloc for reforms.
Harald Jaeger, an East German lieutenant colonel in charge of passport control at Bornholmer Street, saw this announcement and wondered why he had not been told of this policy change so he called his superiors who told him it was wrong and not to open the gate.  But when lieutenant colonel Jaeger arrived at his post at the gate a number of East Berlin citizens were waiting to go through the gate to go to West Berlin.  That number continued to grow and grow until there were thousands (He estimates that more than 20,000 East Berliners on foot and by car crossed into the West at Bornholmer Street. Some curious West Berliners even entered the east.)
Essentially to prevent people getting hurt lieutenant colonel Harald Jaeger defied his superiors' orders and let thousands of East Berliners pour across his checkpoint into the West.  Of this act today he will answer "I didn't open the wall. The people who stood here, they did it.”  This video from Tymachos shows what lieutenant colonel Harald Jaeger was facing that night. This link is to the rest of the story.

An interesting story is that David Hasselhoff is a rock star in Germany in part because of the Berlin Wall. Here is the link to that story. 
It is too easy to say North and South Korea share a similar divide and point out possible hopes for unification in Korea. It is too easy to even contemplate a similar think happening in Korea. In addition it is too easy to point out the failure of a wall between the USA and Mexico by the current  US administration and the abhorrent treatment of people simply seeking asylum. Too many things are different and I don’t want to make this a political post more than it already is.  While I have not been to Germany since that pre-Berlin Wall visit, I have  friends in Germany and a few tea customers.
Thank you Germany for showing the world even a great wall and the Soviet Bloc cannot deter the WILL OF THE PEOPLE to be free.  The world should not forget this historic day.
For those who want to see more videos on the collapse of the Berlin Wall, here is another link on the History Channel.

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