The people of Germany are marking the 50 years since the building of the Berlin Wallwhen the communist East closed its border, dividing the city for 28 years. The city observed a minute’s silence at noon in memory of those who died trying to escape.
Berlin Mayor Wowereit said the capital was remembering the “saddest day in its recent history. It is our common responsibility to keep alive the memories and pass them on to the next generation, to maintain freedom and democracy and to do everything so that such injustices may never happen again,” he said.
Earlier, President Christian Wulff told Die Welt newspaper that the modern Germany could take pride in “East Germans’ irrepressible desire for freedom and West Germans’ solidarity with them”. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also attended the event, was herself raised in the East.
Initially a barbed wire fence, it became a wall which spread for nearly 100 miles. More than 300 watchtowers were erected to spot escapees. Minefields were laid in some sectors.
The number of people who died trying to cross the Wall is disputed – at least 136 are known to have been killed but victims’ groups say the true number is more than 700.
The first victim was thought to be Guenter Liftin on August 24, 1961 and the last Chris Gueffroy on 6 February 1989.
The Soviet Empire was falling apart in the 1980s and its influence within the Eastern Bloc countries evaporated, leaving East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and all the countries under the Soviet yoke to determine their own future. Truly, when a political establishment has to build a wall to keep it’s people in, August 13, 1961 was the beginning of the end for the Soviets.No tags for this post.