On Thursday 9 November 1989, the head of the ruling East German Communist Party announced the opening of the sturdy gates at each of the 12 checkpoints along the Berlin Wall, effectively dismantling this barrier of infamy and permitting free passage of people between communist East Germany and West Berlin (the West) for the first time since 1961.
The 'fall of the wall' also reportedly led to one of “the greatest street parties in the history of the world” that weekend, when east and west Germans joined each other – like brothers in arms again – to celebrate the wall’s demise.
This was little more than two years after then US Republican President, Ronald Reagan – in a speech of great courage and conviction, made in West Berlin on 12 June 1987 – shocked the world by calling for then Soviet Union and Cold War leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “Tear down this wall!” By 1989, this had helped precipitate (along with the inevitable economic, social and political failures of Marxism) a series of revolutions in nearby Eastern Bloc countries – eg Poland and Hungary – whose chain reaction or “domino effect” swept further west to the Deutschland.
The opening of the wall’s gates signified the end of the Cold War, which brought freedom to East Germany (aka the German “Democratic” Republic). The Berlin Wall was one of the most visible and infamous symbols of the Iron Curtain (see further details below). Soon after the gates opened, the rest of the Iron Curtain barrier through central Europe was dismantled, along with the dysfunctional, authoritarian, communist and Soviet-occupied regimes of the Eastern Bloc (to its east side).
In less than a year – on 3 October 1990 – East and West Germany was officially reunified, with the sclerotic, communist East being graciously absorbed into the larger, more prosperous and liberal-democratic West.
Celebrate the anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise by:
- wearing the colours of the united German flag, red, yellow and black
- planning a visit and tour of Berlin, or parts of former communist Europe, to hear the stories of life under Marxist rule first-hand (as well as visiting the museums there)
- watching these documentaries on the history of the Berlin Wall
- viewing this speech of US President Ronald Reagan insisting that the wall be torn down, and with this further, useful context
- reading further about the wall’s history and context, and/or
- belting out this song (also embedded below), "Winds of Change" by German rock band The Scorpions promoting freedom - the film clip featuring footage of the erection and dismantling of the Wall, which reached the top 10 of the Australian charts at the time
- sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, conservatives, classical liberals, anti-ANTIFAs and those that treasure freedom and understand its value to life, liberty, soul, prosperity and technological progress.
Further details on the Berlin Wall and its end
The East German name for the Berlin Wall was “Anti-fascist Bulwark” (or “Anti-fascist Protection Rampart”). Its declared official purpose was to keep Western “fascists” out and stop them conspiring to upset/disrupt the “will of the people” in building a would-be socialist utopia in East Germany.
But like with so much hard-left, Marxist naming trickery and propaganda, its true purpose was in fact the opposite – to stem the humiliating tide of emigration and mass defections from the miserable, communist East to the free West. This tide had ballooned to thousands per day by the time a temporary barrier was first erected (from 13 August 1961).
- By that date, the Stasi (East German secret police) were devoting essentially all their resources to preventing their citizens from fleeing to the West. They desperately needed a reprieve to do other tasks like keeping their remaining citizens obedient and ensuring they all thought, spoke and behaved “correctly”, consistent with state orthodoxy.
The wall was 156 kms long and entirely ring-fenced West Berlin from East Berlin and East Germany. Most of the wall (112 kms) was reinforced concrete, nearly four metres high (12 foot tall) and over a metre wide (4 foot), topped with a large smooth pipe to prevent wannabe escapees from climbing over it. The rest of the wall was wire mesh fencing.
- It had 302 watch towers with armed guards with orders to shoot to kill, dogs on long lines, trip-wire machine guns and the infamous “death strip” – a 100 metre soft-sand gauntlet (to show footprints) between the solid wall barrier and the more flimsy fencing barrier with anti-vehicle trenches and bunkers with guards.
When originally erected, the wall only had three checkpoints or gates to pass through – the most infamous being “Checkpoint Charlie” (with the other two being “Checkpoint Alpha” and “Checkpoint Bravo”).
After the announcement and gate openings, Germans began chipping away at the wall with their picks and hammers, bit by bit – which became known as the “wall woodpeckers”. But the wall’s demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 (with cranes and bulldozers) and was completed in 1992.
More on Marxism, hell-holes and walls
Authoritarian communist East Germany was also known as the German “Democratic” Republic – as opposed to West Germany (then called the Federal Republic of Germany), which was truly democratic.
Nations that feel the need to call themselves “democratic” so often are shamelessly not – it’s one of the great ironies of leftist politics, particularly Marxism (where they project their foibles, dark hearts and mal-intents onto their opponents yet camouflage themselves with what they perceive as their opponents’ strengths and virtues). Consider for instance single-party communist 'Lao People's Democratic Republic' (Laos), the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen, now part of Yemen). Meanwhile, the authoritarian 'Democratic Republic of Congo' ranks among the lowest ranked nations for upholding democratic freedoms.