On our way from Prague to Amsterdam, we decided to make a quick stop in Berlin to see the Berlin Wall Memorial.
The kids had read quite a bit about this with World History and we were too close to miss it! We were only able to stay about 35 minutes, but we were glad we did.
Many people escaped in all kinds of ways. Hot air balloon, scuba diving, tunnels they dug, tightropes, fake Soviet planes, zip lines, air mattresses, swimming, and some even diverted a train or stole a tank. But many died in escape attempts, and the wall became the more secure the longer it stood.
The West side of the wall is grafted, while the “Death Strip” on the east is not.
The day the wall was first constructed.
In 1963, East Berlin would issue passes for a one day visit to West Berliners to visit their families. Of course, not the other way around.
That day, Anatoly Chernyaev, an advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev, writes in his diary: “The Berlin Wall has collapsed. This entire era in the history of the socialist system is over. After the PUWP [Polish Communist party] and the HSWP [Hungarian party] went Honecker. Today we received messages about the “retirement” of Deng Xiaopeng and Todor Zhivkov. Only our ‘best friends’ Castro, Ceauşescu, and Kim Il Sung are still around – people who hate our guts. That is what Gorbachev has done. And he has indeed turned out to be a great leader. He has sensed the pace of history and helped history to find a natural channel.”
Margaret Thatcher said from Berlin,
“I think it is a great day for freedom. I watched the scenes on television last night and again this morning because I felt one ought not only hear about them but see them because you see the joy on people’s faces and you see what freedom means to them; it makes you realise that you cannot stifle or suppress people’s desire for liberty and so I watched with the same joy as everyone else and I hope that they will be a prelude to the Berlin Wall coming down.”
and George H.W. Bush
“I’ve just been briefed by the Secretary of State and my national security adviser on the latest news coming out of Germany. And of course, I welcome the decision by the East German leadership to open the borders to those wishing to emigrate or travel. And if the GDR goes forward now, this wall built in ’61 will have very little relevance. And it clearly is a good development in terms of human rights.”
NBC’s Tom Brokaw live on Nov 9, 1989, reports, “A historic moment tonight. The Berlin Wall can no longer contain the East German people. Thousands pouring across at the Bornholmer bridge.”
Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side, time to celebrate!