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In 1949, following the defeat of Nazi Germany in WW II and the re-organization of Europe, the

nation of Germany was divided into East & West. In the East a communist government was set up

under the influence of the Soviet Union. In the West a free, democratic government was set up and

benefitted greatly from the Marshall Plan & the economics of free enterprise. Life became much better

in the West for German citizens. The city of Berlin became a crucible where these divided philosophies

would literally divide the city. Fearful of losing many of its citizens, East Germany closed the border

between the two states in 1952. But that didn’t keep an estimated 2.5 million East Germans from

fleeing to West Germany between 1949 -1961. So, in 1961 the East German government built the

Berlin Wall and strictly enforcing such defections. The wall stood for almost 30 years as a very real and

symbolic divide between the East & the West.


I still remember a speech given by President Reagan in 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate- a section of the

Berlin Wall in West Berlin. At the height of the Cold War, the President used the opportunity to

encourage freedom and a new peace. As he spoke about the wall behind him which separated West

Berlin from East Berlin for decades, I still remember his words, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall!”

I can’t help in hearing those words, from recalling images we saw just a few short years later when the

wall was quite literally torn down. In November of 1987, the East German government held a press

conference and lifted travel restrictions between the two Germanies. And Germans (both from the East

& the West) scaled the wall and danced in celebration! Perhaps some of you traveled to Germany in the

late eighties and have a piece of that wall? Today nothing of it remains in a united Germany and a

whole Berlin. The wall is just gone, a thing of the past. Ahe most frequently asked question in Berlin

today is: “Where’s the wall?”

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