East Soviet controlled Berlin decided the only way to keep the people in the east is to literally build a wall preventing them from leaving. East Berlin was loosing 100,000 people per year to the west. By 1961 they were loosing doctors and lawyers and there wasn’t even enough people left to retrain for these needed professionals in East Berlin. Suddenly a city the size of Philadelphia overnight was divided with a makeshift wall guarded by Soviet troops with razor wire and ply wood until they could construct a concrete much stronger wall all along the many mile divide.
Now you know how the Israelis and Palestinians must feel with their stupid walls dividing them right now. Our newly Republican government is also seriously considering a permanent wall for our Mexican border. It became a 90 mile wall. On August 13, people woke up to barriers, no explanation given. It looked like war with thousands of East German armed soldiers and army tanks suddenly everywhere. No one in advance was told this would be happening. The East was not interested in a war with the United States so if some one wished to escape, they made sure to shoot people on the Eastern side of the wall.
Three days later, by August 16 , 90 miles of concrete cinder blocks were being erected. The East Germans had plenty of brick since the Allies bombed practically every building there after World War II. It is amazing how politics can get people to do just about anything. Bricks and mortar that could have been used to give people better housing was being used for a makeshift ugly wall with no adequate foundation. It is ironic that here on the 25th Anniversary of the wall being torn down it is also the year that our Freedom Tower is open displaying to the world that we have a beautiful shining example of American brick and mortar reaching up to the heavens giving people the freedom to see endless miles of beautiful land from a building.
From the 1960’s to 1990 the wall got stronger and more reinforced and many people died trying to see their relatives once again or trying to get to the other side. There were 116 watch towers erected like in a prison. 1.3 Million Berliners showed up to hear President Kennedy’s speech and they all thanked America for all their money and military support over this wall. By 1968 the wall was reinforced with steel beams. In 1979 families were trying to escape by hot air balloon so nylon was then restricted from use in East Germany. The new sleek white walls was a gift to the graffiti artists on the west who expressed their dissatisfaction with the wall daily. In 1986 the East Germans celebrated the success of the wall with an elaborate ceremony on their side.
In 1987 President Regan gave his speech that said if the East Germans really wanted peace, to tear down the wall. Without the full support from Russia, East Germany could not sustain the protests of the wall from all sides and then steps were taken to tear that wall down. People wanted what they always wanted. To move freely and see their relatives. It is good to know that somehow no matter how long it takes that love and humility and compassion takes over. Can we achieve that in the Middle East or at our own Mexican Borders?