Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Twentieth Anniversary of the Demise of the Berlin Wall - 1989 - 2009

Nov 6, 1989, I sat in amazement in my flat in London, UK, watching the BBC News, as they discussed the fact that the Berlin Wall was coming down. Being an American, studying abroad, it had occurred to me that I could either continue to watch the news in the UK, or take the Hovercraft, from Dover to Calais - http://www.ferries.co.uk/france.html, then hop on a train and head to Germany - and that is exactly what I did. Nov 7, 1989, I was on my way.
It was such an interesting time in the history of Germany and changing the dynamics of Western Europe, symbolizing the fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe forever. Many people paid the cost for wanting their freedom in Germany. Many died fighting for freedom in Germany...
While on the train travelling first class, through Bavaria, Germany, I was so deeply enthralled in the book that I was reading until when I finally looked up and saw at least 6 people looking at me through the glass - faces staring at me in amazement.
I was reading the book, 'Bearing the Cross', by David Garrow, who had mentioned the positive, brotherly relationship that Rev. Ralph Abernathy had with Dr.Martin Luther King Jr., and it seemed to catch quite a few people's attention on the train(I'm guessing..). At least 4 people asked if they could come into my compartment and talk, and I said yes. They wanted to know if I knew Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr.. They asked if I knew Michael Jackson . There were so many kind, polite Bavarian people asking me all kinds of questions regarding America and the status of Black people in America. They sincerely wanted to know how we as a people were faring.
I arrived at Barzel and Priscilla's home in W├╝rzburg Germany, just in time to eat dinner, shower, and watch more news. The next morning, I repacked my bags and headed out to witness history, and also to get a "piece of the Berlin Wall". All the while thinking, 'The Berlin Wall must come down!'

Created in 1961, and often referred to as the "Wall of Shame", by western countries, the separate and much longer Inner German Border (the IGB) demarcated the border between East and West Germany. Both borders came to symbolize the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. Before the wall, people wanting to escape the Eastern Bloc would simply cross the boarders into West Germany, which then would allow them to travel to other Western European Countries, and this had to end. Thus, the erection of the Berlin Wall.
Apparently, so many people felt what I was feeling. I mean, if you were in Europe, you just had to pick up your bags and get to The Berlin Wall as soon as you could. That was real.
That is something that I will never forget. The day the Berlin Wall started tumbling down. The significance is soooo deep. I also got my piece of the rock...


Srividya said...

Wow! That must have been such an experience, to be in Berlin at that point of time. Very interesting post.

Carla Thomas said...

Hi Srividya,
Yes, it was quite an experience. You could feel tension in the air - quite a few of the older generation of native Germans were fearful.
They were fearful because they expected the carpet to be pulled from under their feet if they got too excited about the wall coming down.
On the other hand, the younger native Germans were happy and hopeful - not fearing anything or anyone. Quite a few youths showed up with their own hammers in tow - swinging at the Berlin Wall. It was amazing.