The Berlin Wall: The Symbol of an Evil Empire


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In the early hours of the morning of August 13, 1961, Soviet tanks rolled into position in the Soviet sector of East Berlin to begin the building of one of the greatest obscenities of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall. Last Saturday, 50 years later, German politicians and thousands of people who have not forgotten that tragic day, among them Berliners who experienced those sad times, gathered at a memorial on Berlin’s Bernauer Street to remember first and foremost the more than one hundred people killed attempting to escape the prison the 103-mile Wall had made of East Berlin.

“We are thinking of the suffering that was inflicted on the innumerable women, men and children…,” said Christian Wulff, Germany’s president. “We are lamenting 136 dead. We bow before all who died at the Wall and before the several hundred who died at the inner German border, the borders to third states and on the Baltic Sea.”

But not all Germans were lamenting the unfortunate people who bravely risked their lives for freedom only to be killed by ruthless East German border guards. Some German leftists, most prominently in Germany’s Left Party, refused to observe the minute of silence for the Wall’s victims. While much of Berlin, including all public transportation vehicles, came to a standstill on Saturday for sixty seconds, some Left delegates at a party meeting in the Baltic city of Rostock, in keeping with their belief that the Wall’s construction was a justifiable decision, refused to even stand when the minute was announced

Known in Soviet-controlled countries as the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart,” it is well known the Berlin Wall’s purpose was not to keep undesirable people or influences out but rather to keep in the Eastern European populations under Soviet control. Due to the disparity in living and economic conditions between East and West, the growing oppression in Eastern European countries and restrictive socialist measures like collectivization, people from East Block countries were using Berlin’s relatively relaxed border controls to cross over to freedom on the city’s western side.

And the number of Eastern Europeans fleeing their countries, primarily from East Germany, to the West via Berlin increased almost yearly. In 1949, 144,000 Eastern Europeans used the Berlin route to vote against socialism with their feet. In 1960, the year before the Wall was built, 199,000 crossed over to freedom in Berlin, while 207,000 did so in the first seven months of 1961. Facing such a drain of people, especially among the young and educated, East Germany’s communist rulers knew they had to act, if they were ever to realise their dream of successfully building socialism. The result was the construction of the Berlin Wall to stop the exodus.

The Wall’s erection in August, 1961, was to have an instant, traumatic effect on Berlin’s residents. The 50,000 East Berliners who worked in West Berlin immediately lost their jobs. East Berlin children suddenly “disappeared” from West Berlin schools. But the biggest tragedy occurred among families the Wall had separated overnight. Some members were not able to see each other for many years.

But opposition to the Wall’s building began almost immediately. One East Berliner, Ulrich Pfeifer, managed to flee to West Berlin in the first few weeks through the sewers, but his girlfriend accompanying him was sentenced to seven years in prison for the escape attempt. Pfeifer later became a construction engineer and sought revenge against the East German regime for imprisoning his girlfriend by building tunnels under the Wall to help other East Berliners to escape.

“You can’t reconstruct the horror of that time,” he said.

Others were not as lucky as Pfeifer. Only 11 days after the beginning of the Wall’s construction, the sealed-off border claimed its first victim, Gunter Litfin. Litfin, 24, was shot in the head by a border guard while attempting to swim the Spree River to the West Berlin bank and was left to drown. He was only 20 meters from freedom. Litfin was a tailor and was one of those suddenly left unemployed by the new, heavily armed and hostile city boundary. A day later, the border guard responsible for the murder and his superior received an honour medal, an expensive watch and 200 marks personally from the hands of East Germany’s interior minister.

“What crime did my brother actually commit?” his surviving brother, Jurgen, is still asking 50 years later.

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  • CO Defender

    The current generation of Germans deserve no sympathy, or any support as they have basically become the socialists that 2 generations of Americans defended to give them the liberty to state their inane views…it's long overdue that we pull the US out of NATO…claim victory (in 1989) and go home…

  • tarleton

    Germans love to see themselves as victims , or as Churchill said ''germans are at your feet or at your throat ''

    The 136 german deaths are rather smallscale compared to the millions of german victims when germany invaded it's neighbours in two world wars

    • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

      One good thing came out of that though: England was pounded to within an inch of her life and had to scratch Rex Imperator off her coinage. The slow collapse in England under the weight if her imported population is compressing her further, and soon they might even have a pluralistic multiethnic republic.

    • tarleton

      yes we did have to take a pounding and proudly wear it as a badge of honour ….we are also one of the few countries to have had the physical and moral courage to declare war of the rancid evil of Nazi germany ….we didn't cravenly sit on our hands for years until Hitler decided to declare war on us …but I guess , that's just us ?

      • jay

        Yes, we cravenly sat on our hands while you Europeans went to war AGAIN! Up to that point in time, you guys averaged a war every generation. Sorry we weren't so eager to join you. However it is worth noting that you LACKED PHYSICAL and MORAL courage to declare war when you SHOULD HAVE, you waited until it was TOO LATE! And you didn't do it because Nazi Germany was evil, they were evil in 1936.

        Also worth noting, you withstood the bombing and the blockade thanks to american aid. Without it you would have been throwing tea and biscuits at the Luftwaffe.

        • tarleton

          you've no sense or irony ……criticising us for going to war years before john wayne and Co and THEN saying we were too late ! !

          • jay

            I wasn't complaining. But you said we were cravenly sitting on our hands while you did all the dirty work. That's pretty funny coming from a country who could have stopped Hitler before he became the unstoppable (to Poland, France etc) threat he became.

          • avidyananda

            The carnage of World War I left the British quite reluctant to go to war again. We Americans owe the British a lot for the stubborn fight they gave the Germans, against impossible odds. Yes, we Yanks helped the Allies win that war, but the war would have been over if the British had not shown the courage and will to resist.

          • tarleton

            exactly , the apeasment policy grew out of the carnage from the battle of the somme….the US was almost too late for both wars ….Britain held the fort against seeminly impossible odds , although , let's face it , they had zero chance of defeating nazi germany on their own and even if the Soviet Union had crushed the nazis , then the whole of the european continent would be RED

          • avidyananda

            The American left, typified by still famous 'folk singer' Pete Seeger, were against any action against Germany in 1940.. Why? Because of the Nazi-Stalin pact. He began singing songs to support the anti-German war after Hitler turned on Stalin. Yes, thanks to the US and the cooperation from Britain and France, the line was held halfway through Germany. Still, the left does not give up, despite their record of providing neither freedom nor prosperity to the countries they dominated. The left ideas live on in many countries though and many ascribe the recent crime and rioting problems in Britain, and the malaise in the US, on people who believe the State owes them everything–job, house, education, medical care, vacations. Well, the constitution of the USSR guaranteed those things…how'd that work out?

          • tarleton

            To be fair ,the american right was the most isolationist and a remnant of that can be seen in folk like pat buchanon, ron paul etc
            Rosevelt would of brought the US into the war earlier …if he could have shoe horned some type of incident
            If TR had been president in WW1 the Us would have been in the war in 1915 Lusitania incident

          • avidyananda

            Good point. I often forget how different are the worldviews of the Americans, far across an ocean so removed by time and geography from events and problems of those living in Europe. Perhaps you can understand why many Americans were isolationist back then. FDR had to respect the will of the majority of the Americans, though in retrospect it was clear that the US had to join such a major fight. Isolationism sounds like a good idea, but the world doesn't work that way. Yeah, TR glorified war. His beloved youngest son, Quinton, bright and charismatic and charming, was shot down and killed as a pilot in WWI and they say TR was never the same after that. On a larger scale, the countries of Europe that endured the slaughter of WWI, were reluctant to glorify war. But…there are always the bad guys and sometimes we must fight. Sadly, that is the human condition.

          • tarleton

            america's 19th century policy of isolationism was dangerously anchronistic in the 20th cent and yet there are still fools on the right wing who would like to follow a similar policy today
            TR had 4 sons in WW1 …all wounded or killed

          • Tanya

            Typical bloody American ignoramus. Boy, will I laugh when Obama finally manages to run your wonderful country to the ground!

          • welldoneson

            that is mos'def what the skinny little marxist indonesian hatemonger is doing. no surprise he was recruited by the leftist-infested Democrats

          • avidyananda

            Give us a break! The conservative Americans far outnumber the Obama supporters. But with the media, academia and the entertainment industry worshipping Obama, it's hard to get a fair election. Obama is now recognized as the empty suit anti-American he was raised to be. Let's hope he and his ilk are out of power by 2013. It's not my place to give my British cousins advice, but if I may, I recommend you put those rioters in jail for a long time and feed them only if they work. Britain, like America, can retain its greatness if it regains its common sense and send the leftists away to rant with each other, or maybe to live in Cuba where they can experience Paradise as they imagine it to be.

        • SpiritOf1683

          We did make a grievous mistake with Hitler. We ignored Winston Churchill's warnings from the early 1930s and did nothing when something could have been done. A good time to do something would have been in March 1936, when the Wehrmacht remilitarized the Rhineland – as Hitler said "If the French had invaded, we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs". Who knows what might have happened had Hitler been forced to make his first retreat. And the US wasn't without its mistakes and negligence and also took their eye off the ball. They ignored the Japanese threat from the mid-1930s and got Pearl Harbor.

        • SpiritOf1683

          And the US is acountry which has repeatedly told the Israelis not to destroy their enemies. Every time the Israelis have been on the verge of annihilating their enemies, the West, led by the US, has sought to stop the Israelis with a series of forced one-sided anti-Israeli negiotiations, nay demands, and enable their enemies to come back stronger next time. Israel's enemies were spared from being wiped out in 1967 through US-led pressure and came back stronger in 1973, then spared again in 1982 and came back stronger in 2006, then spared again in 2009. Because of that we once again await Israel's enemies coming back stronger. For starters, they're better armed than ever with rockets and missiles which can hit the whole of Israel, and we have the US and its allies to thank for that, because they're a bunch of wimps who dare not 'offend' the Arab world.

    • intrcptr2

      The war was over for 15 years, the Cold War was not about continuing to exact justice or revenge on Germany; that was why Truman rejected Morgenthau's plans for Europe. Building a wall to keep people someplace they didn't wish to be is unjustifiably evil.

      Or would you have preferred the Soviets still be holding onto their spoils of war? You are allying yourself with those Leftists who miss the DDR.

      And please stop blaming WW I on the Kaiser, his cousins were just as much to blame as he was.

      • SpiritOf1683

        The French played a major role in the run-up to World War I. They wanted back Alsace-Lorraine, which had been annexed by Germany in 1871.

    • 00mpal00mpa

      Well said, comrade……*note sarcasm*

  • V. O'Donoghue

    Nina L. Khrushcheva details a brief outline of events from the birth of the Berlin wall, in a Project Syndicate piece, considering the following: 'Had the Wall not been built in 1961, would communism have collapsed sooner? Had Gorbachev responded to Ceauşescu’s plea and sent troops to defend the Wall, would communism in Europe ever have collapsed?'
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/khrus

    Ultimately, Khrushcheva muses: 'no wall can hold back democracy – and, conversely, that if a country’s people don’t want democracy enough, no Berlin Wall is needed to keep it out. The world has Vladimir Putin to thank for that lesson'

  • FBastiat

    Would you believe there are still leftists who deny that the Wall was built to stop people from fleeing socialism?!
    http://frontpagemag.com/2010/02/26/history-as-her

    • Tanya

      Yes, I do, typical head-in-the-sand leftie cretins. And they are by no means restricted to Germany!

  • StephenD

    The lessons are lost on those that don't seek them out. The Utopian goal is all that matters…damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
    Just look at those that spout the same tired programs that failed everywhere they've been tried. It hasn't worked and will NEVER work but they keep at it. They call it "Progressive" to go backward; "Social Justice" to restrict peoples freedoms; "Redistribution of Wealth" to steal from those that earned it to give to those that have not. All of this has been done before to no good end.

    • welldoneson

      You have just described Obama's entire platform.
      Seriously. Read the man's speeches. It's hard to beleive
      anyone can be so dumb; in fact, he's NOT dumb.
      He's evil. He's doing what he can to "change" the US
      to an economic basket case and a military non-entity.
      This is part of a larger plan to clear the table for
      World Socialism. yes it is. Look into it.
      Why else would he increase the debt by Trillions
      and then blame the rich for not paying enough tax?
      not to put too fine a point on it, but… what a basstread!

  • mrbean

    Khrushchev met Kennedy, at the meeting Khrushchev believed Kennedy was
    weak … This contributed to the Berlin wall being constructed and nuclear
    warheads … the Bay of Pigs invasion and JFK being viewed by the USSR as weak. The MSM puff job about Kennedy being he hero of the 1962 Cuba crisis was a lie – Khrushchev got exactly want he wanted for removing uncrated missiles, a hands off Cuba agreement which was why he put missiles in Cuba the first place.

    • welldoneson

      Kennedy was more concerned with getting it wet than he was with his office.
      He ignored issues until they were a mess then cleaned them up at great expense
      to the U.S., with his PR people and much of the media showering him with
      VERY undeserved praise. History will be very hard on that creep.

  • Agris

    Best Berlin Wall sign

  • WilliamJamesWard

    A German tour guide asked a visiting preacher while pointing to the Berlin Wall
    which had machine guns on top, barbed wire and armed guards with german
    shepherd dogs, a menacing and frightening picture, why he asked would God
    allow this. The preacher thought and replied this is what you did to the Jews and
    God promised to treat all as to how they treated the Jews, let the Islamists
    think on that and their feted leftist brothers……………………………….William

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    The Berlin Wall is old news. Everyone's talking about tearing down Israel's wall now. I remember when Robert Markowitz made the movie "The Wall" about the Warsaw Ghetto. It was very moving and very scary, even without music by Pink Floyd. Now the Israelis have their very own The Wall. To think that Israelis have turned around and created their own Ghetto for Palestinians is sickening. To think that the Germans thought they were "only protecting themselves from the Jews out to destroy them" is sickening. The whole thing is sickening.

    • SpiritOf1683

      Every stupid and evil antisemite talks about tearing down Israel's wall because they want Israel gone. And you're the sort who wants to see Israelis marched to the death camps. But you're not going to get your way because Israel will still be around long after you've been turned to dust.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    No, sorry. I don't support genocide. Nor do I support using genocide as an excuse to commit genocide. If somebody kills my children in Europe, I don't go out to kill someone else's children in Asia to get "justice."