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Litfin was not the only member of his family to lose his life to a socialist dictatorship. His twin brother had been murdered in 1944 with a drug overdose at age seven by a Nationalist Socialist doctor who thought he was Jewish. Jurgen Liftin said Gunter never got over the death of his twin.
One hundred and thirty-five deaths followed Liftin’s until the Wall’s demise in 1989, partially the result of the border guards being issued a brutal and inhumane shoot-to-kill order regarding escapees. Not surprisingly, the suspected issuer of the order, Erich Mielke, the Stalinist head of East Germany’s secret police, was long a murderer himself. At age 17 and already a Communist Party member, in 1931 during the Weimar Republic era he shot dead in Berlin two policemen the Party had ordered killed.
But the 136 deaths at the Wall do not, apparently, make any moral impression on a segment of Germany’s Left Party, which currently holds 76 of 622 seats in the federal German parliament. Party co-leader Gesine Lotzsch said the Wall was a logical consequence of the Second World War, of Germany’s attack on Russia, while a faction of the party claims the barrier prevented a war between the Soviet Union and the West.
“Does the prevention of a war not justify the securing of a state’s border?” asked this faction’s leader in Rostock.
Besides mocking and trivialising the deaths and suffering the Berlin Wall caused, German commentators have stated these spurious reasons serve only to hide the real motive why some Left Party members find the Wall’s building a justifiable action. Since the Left Party is the successor to the old communist Socialist Unity Party (SED) that ruled East Germany, it “needs the Wall for self-legitimization.
“For Gesine Lotzsch, the legitimacy of the GDR (East Germany) is at stake on the anniversary of the Wall’s erection as well as the right to exist of the SED-successor party,” wrote one observer.
But German leftists like Lotzsch have yet to realize that by building the Wall and shutting itself off from positive West German influences, the “socialist” East Germany they so admired “sealed its own coffin.” It went on to destroy the country’s infrastructure, devastate the environment and amass huge debts, while allowing the Soviet tank armies on its territory to threaten European peace. And the absence of justice and human rights made a mockery of the SED’s pronounced socialist ideals. One German commentator notes these Left Party excuses for the Wall prove such leftists are “unwilling and incapable of establishing a critical balance of socialist history.”
In contrast to leftists, it is the people who perished at the Berlin Wall, however, and their surviving family members who have shown and understood its true meaning and that of the cruel regime that built it. Jurgen Litfin states in an article he wrote for Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine, that the life in freedom we all enjoy today was made possible by the victims of dictatorships.
“They show that we are not defenceless in the face of a tyranny, and that freedom is one of the most valuable things that we possess.”
And perhaps that is all that needs to be said about that tragic moment when a wall became a symbol and a boundary of a communist dictatorship’s inhumanity.
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