Monday, November 09, 2009

The Fall of the Wall, It Happened Today in the Past

Berlin Wall Fragment, July 2009

20 years ago today East Germany acknowledged that the Berlin Wall essentially meant nothing. This historic moment was carried out in the aesthetic visage of massive crowds gathering on either side, helping each other climb the wall, champaign popping and finally hammers giving way to cranes in the removal of the barrier. It was a powerful signal that heartened many and was basically the point of no return in the fall of Communism.

I took this photo while visiting this past summer. To the left is the Spree river. This is at the end of the East Side Gallery, where a stretch of the wall is preserved and artists do rotating graffiti murals. Behind the view of this photo is the Kreuzberg Bridge. The wall on one side was just a concrete barrier, on the other was the last in a series of defenses including carpets of raised spikes called "Stalin's carpet" spring-loaded shrapnel guns, land mines and barbed wire. It was not built to keep people from the capitalist West out of the Workers' Paradise, it was meant to keep people in. It was essentially a prison were attempting to leave the East could land you in jail indefinitely if you weren't killed first.

It has made me think government today. It doesn't really matter what the ideology is, there is just a certain leaning certain governments have. The Eastern Bloc was not Communist in any sense other than name. Just like Popeye's saying they have "home cooked" biscuits. I don't think the names of political affiliations mean anything, it is how business is carried out. Leaders either promote personal liberties or they seek to withhold them based on irrational ideology. Whether it is to save the workers from the capitalist pigs or save the nation from the godless homosexuals, repression is repression.


Sinking Wall
Christophe Girot • Sinkende Mauer (Sinking Wall) • 1997


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