Saturday, August 13, 2011

50th Anniversary Of The Berlin Wall Erection

I wrote about it last year, but today is the 50th anniversary of the day that at midnight East Germany began building what they called their 'Antifascist Protection Barrier'.   The rest of the world came to know it as the Berlin Wall.  

As I wrote last year, that structure was a part of the world I grew up in as a tangible symbol of the Cold War tensions that split a city and a nation in two    

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, will attend the dedication and opening of a memorial and museum to The Wall at Bernauer Strasse, which was cut in two by the construction of the wall that stood for 28 years.   There are disputed claims as to just how many people died trying to cross it.   The count ranges from 138 to the 700 claimed by victim's rights groups.  The first victim is believed to be Guenter Liftin, who was killed on August 24, 1961 and the last was Chris Gueffroy on February 6, 1989.

Two US presidents made speeches in front of it.

JFK's 1963 'Ich Bin Ein Berliner' speech.

Reagan's 1987 'Tear down this wall' speech

Indeed, just two years later, that Brandenburg Gate area was filled with deliriously happy people doing precisely that.  

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