Today (9th November 2009) is the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall was constructed in the early 1960s and was intended to stop mass emmigration to the west from East Germany, especially young, skilled workers and scientists (the ‘brain drain’).
Important events that led to the fall of the Berlin wall:
- Trade union movement, Solidarity, in Poland in the early 1980s
- A move towards more openness in Soviet Russia under Gorbachov
- A speech by Ronald Reagan challenging the East to tear the wall down
- The decision by Hungary to open its borders to Austria, allowing thousands of East Germans on holiday to flee to Austria. When Hungary then started to prevent East Germans from leaving, massive demonstrations started calling for more freedom of movement.
The current German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is herself a former East German, and has thus become a symbol of the successful reunification.
I’m sure though, that there must be some people who regret the end of the Soviet block. As with any social change, there are always winners and losers. The communist system guaranteed everyone a job and accomodation. For some, it have been a good thing that it wasn’t possible for some people to make fortunes while others struggle to survive, as is the case in our western democracies.
What do you think? Leave your comments (in English, please) below.