The fall of the Berlin Wall and Stefan Heym


The day the Berlin Wall fell

Last Saturday Germany marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with numerous events. It was in the night of November 9, 1989 that the Berlin Wall was opened and East German citizens could freely visit the western part of Berlin. In the coming days, the whole border between East and West Germany would be opened. The fall of the Berlin Wall was the culmination of the dramatic events of autumn 1989 when the citizens of East Germany took to the streets to demand freedom of speech and the press and the freedom to travel. In October 1989 when the communist leadership wanted to celebrate 40 years of East Germany the citizens found their voice and made their demands heard. Within a year East Germany was unified with West Germany in a process of rapid democratization.

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Berlin, Living Behind A Wall

Berlin, Living Behind A Wall

Have Bag, Will Travel

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“Nobody has the intention of building a wall.” GDR head of state Walter Ulbricht, East Berlin, June 15th 1961

For me, for everyone I suppose, some places can have a real impact when we visit them. The Berlin Wall was one such place. History hangs in the air, so thick you can almost touch it, almost feel it, almost smell it. Other places that I have visited that have had similar impact for me are Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland and Clairière de l’Armistice at Compiegne in Northern France.

Today I walked along a section of the wall, I ran my fingers across its harsh, hostile, concrete surface, I read the conflicting messages of anger and hope that it been scrawled across it, I was stunned by just how grotesquely ugly it was, I remembered all of the things that frightened me about the wall when I was a…

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Even Before the Wall, Berlin’s Zoos Were Already Cold War Rivals

This guest post looks at the Berlin Wall and how it affected another key place of interest that is still a magnet today for tourists world wide: the zoo. Before the Wall we had one of the largest zoos in the world in the Tiergarten, located in the area of Bellevue Palace, Brandenburg Gate and today’s railway station, Zoologische Garten. It was far different with the wall in the way. More here.

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Genre 1989: Wind of Change by The Scorpions

Wind of Change is perhaps one of the most commonly known songs that dealt with the Berlin Wall and the changes in the political landscape in Europe. The song was produced in 1990 by the German rock group The Scorpions. The song and the music video itself looks at the history of events involving the people who fought against the communist regimes over the years until the historic night of November 9th, 1989, when the Wall finally fell, and the domino effect went into full gear. The melody that accompanied the lyrics reflected on the achievements, but also the question of “What’s next?” How would the two Germany’s move forward and impact the rest of the world? That was later answered in October 1990, after the album Crazy World, where the song was in, was released. Wind of Change made it to number 4 in the Top 100 in 1991. The album was one of the most bought albums of all time, with over 14 million copies sold world wide- less than one tenth of the copies of all of the albums produced by the band in over a half century! Inspite this, this was the last album with the original band, as some of its members left by 1992. Nonetheless, the group still exists today, and rumors of a twelfth album coming out in 2020 are in the air, which will Mark the band’s 55 years.

With all the accolades Wind of Change has received over the years, this genre special from the Files can be added to its long list but in dedication to those who fought to break free.

The Day of the Berliner

Today is November 11th. While we have Veterans Day to honor the American vets who have been on duty and fought many wars, let alone St. Martin’s Day to honor the man who helped the poor by donating his clothes, today is the start of Carneval season. From 11 November until the day before Ash Wednesday (Shrove Tuesday), people can indulge as much as they want to. The main symbol of the season is the Pfannkuchen, known to many as the Berliner. Its sweet but fattening taste is typical of the foods we consume in excess. This is according to religious tradition in German-speaking countries and regions.

Still the season doesn’t culminate until the time of Carneval season, which coincides with the Mardi Gras in the States. There is where the consumption of goods deemed unsafe according to religious beliefs is at its highest. And that coincides with the costumes we wear for the parade during that period.

With Christmas and Carneval in full gear, it’s no wonder that we need the season on Lent in order to shave all that fat off. But before we embark on that, let us dine on Berliners and think about the Holiday season that is right around the corner…..

…..and with that, Black Friday, long lines in the malls, finding a Christmas tree, worry about cookies and cooking…… 🙂

Genre 1989: Chippin Away by Crosby, Stills and Nash plus James Taylor

Shortly after the Fall of the Wall, an American folk music group released a song that was devoted solely to the Wall. Crosby, Stills & Nash was created in the early 1970s and had several number one hits in it’s category. One of the songs that comes to mind was “So much time”, released in 1981. This song was dedicated solely to the people who chipped away at the Wall, putting enough pressure on the GDR government until it was forced to open the gate. The song was a combination of pop and reggae music that had a tropical flair to it. Without further ado, here’s one of many musical genres that will come in the Files that’s dedicated to the Fall of the Wall, which you can listen to by clicking below.

OPINION: 30 Years on, what is the real legacy of the Berlin Wall’s destruction?

The Slog.

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Caveat emptor: the value of an investment in geopolitical “dividends” could go up or down

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When I first saw the Berlin Wall in 1965, it was only four years old. To me then, it was a symbol of everything truly third rate about the Soviet Union: colourless, drab, and very sloppily constructed. Like most other idealistic kids of my generation, it represented the Orwellian hatred of ‘forcing people to be happy’ by caging them in: I longed for the time when it could be torn down….but all of us were (rightly) terrified of nuclear weapons and their mutually assured destruction (MAD) threat.

I went through Checkpoint Charlie to East Berlin several times. You could almost smell the fear in bars there when anyone from the Volkspolizei walked in. The shop windows were dingy, the stock haphazard and uninviting, the streets tawdry, the mood grey. Surely nobody in their right…

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