The Berlin Wall history is one of separation, Cold War and hate. But the Berlin Wall history has at least one positive date. Today, the Berlin Wall history is being remembered as part of the 20’th anniversary of its fall. On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came to an end, as East and West Germany finally became united again. The history of the Berlin Wall may be dark, but it always ends with those famous images of citizens tearing it down.
The Berlin Wall history was expected to go on a lot longer than it did. For all of the wall’s infamy, it only stayed up for about 30 years. In the heyday of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall was expected to stay up forever, despite Ronald Reagan’s demands to Gorbachev. But Communism in Europe and the Soviet Union was in its last throes, and the end of the Berlin Wall was the first nail in the coffin.
The Berlin Wall made positive history for once, when it began to come down on November 9, 1989. The images of the German people tearing the wall down, brick by brick, became part of American and television folklore. Soon after, the Soviet Union broke up and everyone declared the Berlin Wall fall as the beginning of the end of history.
Few alive at that time really must have thought that the Berlin Wall would come down in their lifetime. 20 years later, few people today likely believe that the wars against terrorism and extremists will end in their lifetimes. President Obama’s supporters hope that he can prove them wrong, just as President Reagan and H.W. Bush’s supporters tout how they helped bring the wall down.
But while the Berlin Wall history is in the spotlight today, Germans have other reasons to remember November 9. Today is also the anniversary of the Nazi’s ‘Reichskristallnacht’ attacks against Jewish homes and shops in 1938, as well as the German Revolution of 1918, and Adolf Hitler’s first coup attempt in 1923.
As always, the celebration of a positive event in German history is tempered by memories of bad events. Even the end of the Berlin Wall history is tinged with regret in even building the wall in the first place. But the end of the Berlin Wall still offers some inspiration, in how some symbols of hate and conflict don’t have to last forever – lessons that remain relevant today, if not taken to complete heart.
Historiann- “The Berlin Wall, 1961-1989”
BBC News- “The fall of the Berlin Wall: Your memories”
Spiegel Online- “November 9 Marks Highs and Lows in German History”