Photo Flick 1989 Nr. 11

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Photo taken by Kristin Krahmer

This Photo Flick ties together the Berlin Wall and the holiday season all into one. The Fall of the Wall and the subsequent domino effect which brought down Communism 30 years ago was like the biggest Christmas present that everyone had been waiting for since the Wall was put up.  While Walther Ulbricht stated as an excuse “No one had the intention to build the Wall,” when it was erected on 22 August, 1961, the people trapped by the wall didn’t have the intention to tear it down. All they wanted to do is see their families again, who were separated by the concrete and steel plates that had separated not only Berlin, but also Germany and Europe.

No one had the intention to forget the Wall in its entirety, but we move on with our lives, bidding farewell with the past and moving forward to the future. This was seen with Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, one of the sites where the Wall once stood. Once seen as the battleground fought over and between walls, the area has developed into a busy commerce, where modern architecture, shopping opportunities, business and commerce and even markets have taken over. An underground station, as seen in this pic above, now takes over in place of the walls, barbed wiring and border towers. It is like no one wants to remember this event.  Still, history seems to repeat itself elsewhere, which is why a segment of the Wall still stands to this day, as a vivid reminder of what walls can do to a country, its regions and most importantly, the families and friends affected.

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Check out the Files’ Christmas Market Tour of Potsdamer Platz, written in 2013 and containing history of this now unknown place with a past that is almost forgotten. Click here.  As today marks the start of Christmas season, check out the Files on tour as it has several markets on its list for this year, some of it with a little taste of history and heritage. You can check out its previous Christmas market tours, which includes some quizzes on Christmas. Click here to enter. Enjoy! 🙂

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Photo Flick 89 Nr. 10: Hof Central Station

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Photos taken in August 2017

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The next stop on the photo tour along the Inner-German border is a train station that played a key role through every era of railroad history in eastern Germany. First built in 1848 and expanded in 1880, the Hof Central Railway Station is a key strategic point for the region of Franconia and Vogtland. Considered by the German Railways (the Bahn) as a Category 3 train station, Hof Central Station is the starting and stopping point for all regional railroad services coming from Bavaria in the south and Saxony in the north. Prior to 2012, it had been a throughfare station because of regional trains passing through from Nuremberg and Bayreuth enroute to Zwickau, Leipzig and Dresden. Thanks to the electrification of the line between Zwickau and Hof via Plauen, the northern line now operated by Transdev going to Dresden; the Bahn operates the portion of the line going south.

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As in the beginning, Hof was a central point for all trains passing through for it was a hub serving rail services to Munich in the south, Leipzig and Berlin in the north and Cheb (Eger) in the Czech Republic. Even some of the now abandoned raillines, like the Triptis-Marxgrün Line, found its place in Hof. Sadly though, after the end of World War II, Hof Central Station became an inner-German border station, just like it is today. All rail service from the south and west ended in Hof and those who wish to travel further to Leipzig and Berlin had to switch trains and use Transit Trains provided by the East German government. Sometimes passport and customs controls were necessary if you wanted to travel to East Germany, yet most of the action was done by East German border guards at the train station Gutenfürst.

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The scrutiny of passport and people checks were nothing new when traveling in East Germany. Because the East Germans had to pay for reparations, many kilometers of tracks were removed because of the steel needed for other (military) purposes. This was the case for the rail lines north of Hof as some of the small lines were abandoned with some of the crossings between East and West barracaded. Along the main lines to Dresden and Leipzig, many stretches were one-track only instead of two, like in the time before World War II. From 1945 to 1989, the only way in and out of East Germany through Hof was via the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistral Route, which is still in use as of today.

Fast forward to 1989 and the time before and of the Fall of the Wall. Thousands of residents from East Germany started fleeing the country and its brutal regime under Erich Honecker. This was a reaction to the opening of the Iron Curtain between Austria and Hungary on 27 June, 1989. To obtain a visa to travel to West Germany, they had to go to the German Embassy in Prague, for travel to the Czechoslovakia without a visa was allowed through an agreement between officials in East Berlin and Prague. Travel to Poland had already been blocked thanks to Polish elections earlier in 1989 which ushered in democracy and brought the ouster of its dictator and his officials. With thousands of East German refugees sitting on and near the grounds of the embassy, politicians from Czechoslovakia, the two Germanys and the Soviet Union had to act quickly to stem the flow of refugees fleeing East Germany for the west. An agreement was reached on 30 September, 1989 to allow the refugees to go to West Germany but first going through East Germany. Hans-Dietrich-Genscher made the announcement at 6:58pm local time, only to be greeted with cheers, tears and relief in both Prague and here in Hof.

The first set of refugees boarded a train later that evening and took the 254 kilometer trip through Saxony, via Bad Schandau, Dresden, Karl Marx Stadt (Chemnitz), Plauen and Gutenfürst, arriving at 6:54am on October 1st in Hof. Between 5200 and 5400 people left the country. The second set of refugees arrived four days later with as many as 8000 people on board the trains. It was after that, that more trains carrying refugees would follow suit, putting pressure on the East German regime to open the gates that had separated Germany and Berlin into two for too long. At the time of the Fall of the Wall, as many as 25000 residents had fled by train to West Germany through Hof. Hundreds of thousands of more people would follow when cars started crossing the borders on 9 November to receive their Welcome Money and buy the goods they had been deprived of. Only a fraction of those who fled to the West have ever returned. It was an escape from the repression by the likes of Honecker, who had vowed to keep the Berlin Wall standing for another 100 years but had been dethroned for losing touch with reality.

Enter post-1989 Germany.  Attempts were made to convert Hof into a central hub for train services making it a throughfare station, just like in Leipzig or Berlin. This included the introduction of Inter-City and ICE-Trains along the Magistral Route between Nuremberg and Dresden. Sadly though, due to the age of the locomotives, combined with environmental concerns (air pollution), and the reconstruction of some of the tracks, the Bahn moved to eliminate that service by 2004 and instead has worked to electrify the key lines in order to make it a throughfare station again. The project has been slow going and is expected to be finished by 2030 with a line going along the Magistral branching off to include Bayreuth and Marktredwitz. Another one is expected to connect Regensburg.

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Still, a lot has to be done to make Hof a central hub again. The station building has a lot of charm regarding its architecture and interior design that makes it a popular place to visit. The Main Hall, with its columns and the coats of arms from Bavaria and Saxony was restored to its original glory and has become a waiting area with a book store, Yorma’s Eateries and a place to dine while waiting for the train. The Royal Waiting Room has also been restored and a restaurant and conference room have taken its place. Still, the front entrance of the station as well as the restrooms are awaiting restoration and revitalization as they have fallen on hard times and need to updated to meet the increasing needs of the passengers who pass through. With its architectural character that had been a blessing, the first beacon of light for the East Germans that fled the run-down buildings and Communist-style „Plattenbau“ highrise apartments with a bland and boring taste, the station in Hof has seen better days, for creases and wrinkles from 1989 are noticeable. That the restoration has been ongoing since that time is a given.

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Walking through the halls of Hof Central is like walking back into time, where I was one of many greeting the refugees that had gotten off that train from Prague to flee the eastern half and its years of neglect. Many filled with tears and joy and excitement. It is almost like the scene in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the opressed had no choice but to leave for greener pastures inspite the rebellion to overthrow the oppressors. Like in the book, there were two different types- one to overthrow the Nazi Regime under Hitler and one that overthrew the communists  who had defeated Hitler but imposed their will on others for their benefit. While many have fled for good, never to return except for some reminiscence, others returning to the former East have seen lots of changes for the better.

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For many, Hof Central Station was the Symbol of Change that was needed to end the divide, bring Democracy and peace to the People and subsequentially reunite Germany. It is the same Hof Central Station that should serve as a reminder of the efforts taken to Change the landscape and the lessons that should be learned, which is to maintain Democracy and ist principles and never again have what Germany had dealt with in the past. This goes well beyond its structural character, which trickles down to even its lighting.

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Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

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Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Photo by Kristin Krahmer

 

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From art exhbitions to dance performances, here are 10 ways to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the event.

Source: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

 

Furthermore, a conference talking about the Fall of the Berlin Wall and its implications 30 years later will take place this Weekend in Berlin.

Details: http://www.berlinwall30.de/index.php?en_conference_agenda

And for a solid week, celebrations will be taking place in and around Berlin to celebrate this Special Occasion.

Details here:  https://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/30th-anniversary-peaceful-revolution-fall-wall

Even if it’s for a day or two, the trip to Berlin for the celebrations is worth it. 🙂

 

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Photo Flick 89: Nr. 9

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Many segments of the Berlin Wall still exist today, serving as a reminder of the city’s past, together with that of Germany, before and after the Fall of the Wall in 1989. One of the examples that a tourist in Germany must see is the East Side Gallery. This 1.4 kilometer stretch runs along the River Spree and Mühlenstrasse between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, going from Oberbaumbrücke to the Railway Station Ostbahnhof.  The former Wall was converted into an open-air Gallery in 1990 with the goal of mixing history and art into one.  Since that time, as many as 120 artists from around the world have displayed their works along the wall, where special themes are displayed, from the Time of the Wall to the Strive for Peace. Pop culture themes are also included in this gallery.  Here’s a sample courtesy of a friend and former high school classmate of mine from Minnesota, Kristin Krahmer, during her recent visit with her family. More examples and the history behind the Gallery can be found here.

Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Photo Flick 1989 Nr. 7: Hirschberg- Untertiefengrün

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Saale River Crossing connecting Hirschberg and Untertiefengrün built in 2009. Photos taken in May 2019

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My father and I had an argument once over how Germany was bordered when I was a child growing up during the 1980s. He claimed a concrete wall surrounded only West Berlin while I claimed that there was also a concrete wall that divided the country into two.

Apparently, we were both right, especially when we look at the towns of Hirschberg and Untertiefengrün, located on the Thuringian-Bavarian border, with the former town in Thuringia. The two towns are separated by the River Saale (Sächsische Saale is the official name) with Hirschberg having the majority of the population (2200 inhabitants). By the same token, however, the small Bavarian community with 130 residents seems much more modern than its crossborder neighbor.

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Untertiefengrün taken from the bridge. 

According to history, the town of Hirschberg was first mentioned in the 12th century and had already built a castle and courtyard used for trading of livestock and crops. Untertiefengrün was first mentioned in the 14th century but became part of the community of Berg (Oberfranken) in 1978. Before the Berlin Wall existed, Hirschberg was well-known for its leather products, for a factory had existed for over 500 years, producing shoes, bags and leather pants, even during the times before 1989. In 1992, the factory went bankrupt and was forced to shut down. The entire 16 hectares of property was torn down, four years later. What’s left of the factory, became a museum for the town’s history and a park with lots of greenery.

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The Green Zone, where the border once stood. On the left is the River Saale; on the right, the road that used to be a Wall keeping people from fleeing to Bavaria

When people first think of Hirschberg in terms of German history, they think of the infamous East German border crossing complex located at where the Motorway 9 betwen Berlin and Munich is now located. The complex was located on the northern end of the Rudolphstein Viaduct, approximately five kilometers west of Hirschberg.  Yet as one digs even deeper into the town’s history, one can see that the town really suffered a great deal after World War II. When the war was over, the Soviets took over Hirschberg as part of their zone (which became the GDR or East Germany), whereas the Americans took Untertiefengrün. This is where the history of the Saale River crossing comes in.

 

1699-1948:

History books and postcards pinpointed the first crossing as being made of wood and built in 1699. Most likely it had been rebuilt many times over the course of 226 years due to wear and tear, combined with potential ice jams that damaged the structure. In 1925, a contract was let to build a concrete bridge. It featured a two-span arch design that was closed spandrel but whose arches featured step-like curves instead of the usual straight-line design.  The bridge was in use until right before the end of World War II, when Nazi soldiers, fleeing the encroaching American troops, detonated the bridge. At the conclusion of the war, only one of the two arch spans existed. American troops quickly built an improvisory span to temporarily connect Hirschberg and Untertiefengrün. However, this crossing was shortlived. Fearing the population drain caused by many residents fleeing Hirschberg and subsequentially, the Soviet Zone (later, the GDR), the bridge was subsequentially removed a short time later. Border fences were going up beginning in 1948 and culminated with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

 

1961-1989:

The Wall separating the two communities at the Thuringian-Bavarian border went up at about the same time as the Berlin Wall, but on the Hirschberg side of the River Saale! That means people could no longer flee to Bavaria unless by car and through the border crossings at Juchhöh-Töpeln via Fernstrasse 2 south of Hirschberg. The Rudolphstein Viaduct, rebuilt in 1966, became option number two if residents were clever enough to smuggle their way through without being caught, or spied upon beforehand. It later became the lone option after the closure of Fernstrasse 2 at the border.  It was double torture for almost a half century- not being able to cross freely,  let alone not being able to swim nor fish in the River Saale. While Hirschberg was still producing leather during this dark period (under the auspisces of the GDR government), these were dark times.

 

1989:

Fast forward to 30 December, 1989. It was over a month and a half since the Fall of the Wall and at 8:00am that day, another improvisory bridge was built at the location of the former crossing. Hundreds of residents crossed the bridge into Bavaria and back at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Their crossing was back, and the walls have come down. Yet it also marked the beginning of changes to come. Many who were scarred by the Wall and the attempts to be controlled by the government were the first to flee to the West. Others left when the leather factory closed down two years later.  It became the Bridge of Opportunity for many looking for a better life elsewhere, while leaving the dark past behind them for good.

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2019-present:

Fast forward to 2019, 30 years after the Fall of the Wall. A permanent crossing over the River Saale is 10 years old- a concrete slab bridge with Warren Truss railings. The towns of Hirschberg and Untertiefengrün are united. But things are much different now. Changes in the economic structure combined with globalization has turned the two communities into “ghost towns.”  One can see people walking the streets, farmers harvesting their crops despite the droughts that have devastated Europe in its second year. Church bells are ringing. But on both sides of the River Saale stand dozens of empty buildings. Remnants of schools and the leather factory still stand on the Hirschberg side. Cafés and hotels that used to host American troops and tourists on the Untertiefengrün side are empty with “For Sale or Rent” signs on the windows waiting for the next tenants to take over.  While the former German border crossing at Rudolphstein Viaduct has become restaurants, hotels and service stations hosting thousands of commuters, truckers and tourists daily along the Motorway 9, the communities of Hirschberg and Untertiefengrün, once divided by the Wall along the Saale, have their bridge back but have long become forgotten communities that withstood the test of time, even when divided.

After many years of hardship caused by the division of Germany into two, the two communities are going to sleep now, hoping that the next generations that come will appreciate what the two have to offer, aside from their history, which is vast farmland with lots of hills and a deep, heavily forested River Saale- no longer a border between East and West but a river where people can hike and bike along it, swim or fish in it, and take pictures, all without the dangers of being watched.

 

More photos of Hirschberg and Untertiefengrün based on my visit can be found here:

Link to Google Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Uzw9UKy1fUgrVuQu8 

There is a website devoted to the former border between East and West Germanys, photographed in the 1980s. To access the website, click here. Some pics of the border and crossing in Hirschberg are included there. 

 

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Photo Flick 1989 Nr. 6: The Train Station at Probstzella (Thuringia)

Probstzella Train Station. Photo taken by Störfix in 2008 (WikiCommons)

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After Checkpoint Bravo and Glienicke Bridge at Potsdam, the next set of photos takes us down to Thuringia again, but this time to the border train station Probstzella. With a population of 1300 inhabitants, the city was located right in the middle of the inner-German border, which separated Thuringia and Bavaria. In the time before World War II, it used to be a popular railroad hub as it served traffic going west towards the Rennsteig Mountains, south towards Lichtenfels and north towards Jena and Leipzig. The existing train station at Probstzella dates back to 1885, when the line between Saalfeld (south of Jena) and Lichtenfels opened to traffic. The line going to the Rennsteig Mountains via Sonneberg opened to traffic in 1913 but was closed down by 1997.

It is at this station where the East German government took the most difficult task in keeping its citizens from emigrating to Bavaria. Because the town was located deep in the mountain areas with steep valleys heavily populated with forests, the government undertook the most massive efforts in the town’s history.  For instance, because the town was right in the middle of the 5-kilometer No-Go Zone, much of the residents at the border were forced to resettle inwards in an attempt to cut ties with their neighbors in the south and escape over the border.  The rail line between Jena/Saalfeld and Lichtenfels was reduced to one track  between Probstzella and the Bavarian border at Lauenstein- a stretch of 1000 kilometers.  And lastly, the train station at Probstzella was extended to include a border control building right next to the train station complex, plus many tracks that were heavily guarded by patrolmen on the East German side. From 1952 until November 12th, 1989, passage between Bavaria and Thuringia via Probstzella was restricted in accordance to the interzonal regulations that had existed during that time.

When the border reopened to traffic on 12 November, 1989, the train station in Probstzella lost its entire meaning. There, passengers could travel freely between Bavaria and Thuringia without having to be stopped at the border control station and sometimes held in the waiting room for hours before either being allowed to pass or being turned back. It was at that time that decisions needed to be made regarding the train station and the border control building. The 1885 station building was sold to a private group with the full intention of constructing a East German museum devoted strictly to the history of the station during that time. That was opened on 6 November, 2010, one month after Germany celebrated its 20th birthday. The border control building however was demolished in 2009 because the structural integrity was compromised due to its deteriorating state.

The remains of that building were converted into a memorial. Consisting of two sets of waves plus a stretch of fencing used to keep the people from leaving East Germany, this memorial was erected in April 2010. It is now a park for cyclists and tourists wishing to learn more about the history of the border that had separated the two Germanys for almost half a century.  The memorial is across the rail tracks from the train station, which now houses a museum. The station is considered a historical monument by the state of Thuringia.  The photo gallery enclosed here is the train station and former border control point as was taken in May 2010, during a bike tour through the Franconian region. From Saalfeld to Kronach, I had an opportunity to enjoy the nature of the mountains and forest but also learn about the history of this area, especially the border that had once kept people away from the western half but today, people can pass right through. Once a stopping point, Probstzella has become a forgotten place with a place in German history.

 

Gallery:

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  1. The interzone border agreements was introduced by the four powers that controlled and rebuilt Germany in 1945: The USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. It implied that residents were only allowed to leave their zones if they received special permission from the garrison of the occupied countries. This was eliminated by the creation of West Germany by the Americans, British and French forces in 1949, yet the Soviets tried many attempts in keeping the residents in their zone, culminating with the closing of the border and simultaneously, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The Interzonal Transit Agreement of 1972 between the governments of East and West Germany allowed for the laxing of restrictions, whereby residents who were on business or retired and wanting to visit family in the west were allowed to leave but for a given time span. That expired when the borders opened allowing free passage on 9 November, 1989.
  2. At the border at Lauenstein, there used to be a welcome station for those who entered Bavaria from Thuringia. It featured a train station and a restaurant on the road parallel to the tracks. The station has been decommissioned and is now privately owned, whereas the restaurant was operating at the time of the visit.
  3. The former border was eventually converted into a stretch of green trees, known as the Green Zone. This initiative was started in 1991 with the purpose of repopulating the trees and other forms of vegetation. At the same time, it was also a marker of the border that had separated the two Germanys. In one of the pics, there was such a strip shown draping the mountains at Lauenstein.
  4. Today’s rail service still serves Probstzella but only on the north-south axis. Currently, regional service between Jena and Nuremberg via Saalfeld, Lichtenfels and Bamberg operate under three different providers, including the Deutsche Bahn, agilis and Erfurter Bahn. At one time, ICE-trains passed through Probstzella from 2000 until December 2017. Nowadays, only a pair of InterCity (IC) trains between Leipzig and Karlsruhe pass through. However, plans to reactivate the Fernverkehr (long-distance lines) are in the making. By 2023, a dozen IC-trains per direction are expected to use the line again, with the goal of making the Leipzig-Karlsruhe line the primary route, but also providing 2-trains-a-day-service between Munich and Berlin via Jena, Saalfeld and Lichtenfels, which the ICE trains had used before being relegated to the new line which now runs through Erfurt and Leipzig/Halle.

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Genre on 1989: The Magic Lantern by Timothy Garton Ash

To understand the magnitude of the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th of November, 1989 and the implications it had on international politics and the way of life between East and West, there are some key literary pieces one should read before traveling to central and eastern Europe, for the topic on the differences between East and West is still being talked about to this day, which includes discussions on their nostalgia, the differences in development and modernization of the basic infrastructure in both regions and lastly, societal issues including income disparity, unemployment, violence and/or xenophobia and other issues.

The first book that came to mind, and one that I read prior to emigrating to Germany is a key piece by Timothy Garton Ash entitled „The Magic Lantern.“ This piece was written in 1990 and has been rewritten and edited many time since then. The book looks at the revolution of 1989, from the author’s point of view, in the capitals of the four countries behind the Iron Curtain: Poland, Hungary, German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and Czechoslovakia.

One has to keep the background information in mind. Mr. Ash had been behind the Iron Curtain as a student in East Berlin during the early 1980s, studying at Humboldt University, but was also at the Free University in West Berlin on the opposite side of the border. His experiences there can be found in the book „The File,“ which was published in 1997. In that book, he mentioned that he was under surveillance by the State Security Police (Stasi) while in the East.

In the Magic Lantern, Mr. Ash focused on the revolution that started on the grassroots level but later turned into an event that became known as the domino effect. For the grassroot part, the countries found sophisticated ways of pressuring their communist regimes to submit to their demands for peace and democracy. This included rallies by young people leading free democratic organizations, religious organizations and even groups that opposed the brutal regime. They were sophisticated based on lessons learned in the past, that demonstrations outright without creative back-up planning led to army forces of the Warsaw Pact to roll in and quash them, putting many key players behind these protests into prison. Some even died from being tortured by the countries security police forces in their respective countries. After the failures in East Berlin (1953), Budapest (1956), Prague (1968) and Warsaw (1983), the opposition needed time to retreat, replan, reenvision and reenact the movements in an attempt to put enough pressure on the regime until they finally conceded. In some cases, the leaders were pressured by Michail Gorbachev to allow the borders to reopen, thanks to his policies of Gastnost and Peristroika.

The end result of these grassroot movements came with free elections in Poland, the peaceful funeral of Nagy and the opening of the gates between Hungary and Austria, the Magic Lantern movement in Prague under Havel, and of course the peaceful demonstrations in East Germany, which culminated into the Fall of the Wall. Yet with these grassroot movements came the downfall that happened in sequential order. It started in Poland, then worked its way to Hungary. Once Honecker was removed and replaced by Egon Krenz, the Wall fell in East Germany. And lastly, the Czechs had their say and were granted freedom and democracy Velvet style. In each of the countries, it was only possible thanks to the pressure on the dictators to either step in and accept or step aside and resign. Ash, who was following the events live, documented the events through interviews, observations and collecting enough experience to later make him a journalist and later a scholar for Central and Eastern European Politics and History.

The Magic Lantern does answer a lot of questions about the motivations towards the movement to bring down the Berlin Wall and open the gate between East and West Germany, such as how the movement was started to begin with. Like in the other regimes, the SED Government under Erich Honecker was one of the most sophisticated but brutal regimes in history in terms of its infrastructure, law enforcement and education. Those who remained in East Germany had to submit to the policies of Communism, learning Russian and the ideals of Marx and Leninism. Christianity was suppressed as far as it could go. Those opposing Communism were either spied upon, imprisoned or in some cases, expelled by being sent to the West. There was systematic desegregation between those who support Communism and those against thanks in part to the role of the Stasi of documenting every move made by its citizens. Ash was one of those targeted during his visit, according to his book „The File.“ And if they were not killed in an attempt to flee over the border, they convened and found creative ways to „end the war,“ as one person mentioned in the Magic Lantern.

This „war“ was in reference to a perpetual war which started in 1939 with World War II, continued after the War ended in 1945 and Germany being a battlefield between the US and the Soviet Union until 1990.  If this was what one of the residents mentioned in the interview with Mr. Ash, then the war would be considered the longest in modern history. Mr. Ash fought his way back into East Germany in July 1989 and followed the events that unfolded afterwards, both there and beyond, seeing the stalwarth regime of Honecker crack at the foundations, as many East Germans fled to the West via Prague and Budapest going into Austria. It followed with peaceful demonstrations in Leipzig and spreading throughout the country. Gorbachev hinted to the Politburo that „Life punishes those who wait,“ resulting in Honecker’s removal and replacement with Krenz.

And the rest was history. Once the Wall fell, people celebrated and pushed for German Reunification, which happened 11 months later. Once the Wall fell, as Ash stated, the other countries toppled much quicker than thought. It even resulted in the break-up of the Soviet Union, which concluded at the end of 1991.

Ash’s book, The Magic Lantern, traces all of the events that marked that watershed. Once one dam broke, all the others followed, no matter how sturdy the dam was. And when all was finished, it was a fresh clean start for the region, painting it the way it should be. The Magic Lantern provides you some places in the capitals worth visiting, where the demonstrations took place. Many of them have been considered historic sites with tour guides being provided. The book is the best starting point to finding out the past of the countries and how they have been progressing ever since.

Ash’s book does raise one question that is affecting global society at present: Do we have another domino effect in the making and if so how? We did see it with the Trump effect, with Donald Trump winning the 2016 Presidential Elections with his far right stance. This influence has stoked far-right thinking and the strive to break away from international organizations, even with the European Union. Some countries have gone far right in their elections since then while other far-right countries have become stronger in countries still governed by the middle. However, with environmental issues coming to a head, and green movements growing everywhere, inspite denials from the likes of Trump, it makes a person wonder if the Greta Thunberg effect will create a revolution that will not only have a domino effect on the countries, but will set the world straight once and for all, just like in 1989. This question I hope will have answered, regardless of who’s willing to step up to the podium.

Author’s Note: More on Timothy Garton Ash, his life and works can be found here: https://www.timothygartonash.com/

 

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