16 October 2009: Berlin Wall / End of the GDR links for today

Welcome back to my continuing series of links commemorating the 20th anniversary of a very important moment in German History: the opening of the checkpoints along the Berlin Wall on 09 November 1989.

For today’s links I decided to select articles from “major media”, namely the New York Times and Time Magazine.

  • From the New York Times comes the 1988 article “Protests Mark Berlin Wall’s 27th Anniversary”. I found it really fascinating to read an account of protests going on just one year before the Wall’s fall. One excerpt:
    Dozens of West Germans demonstrated in front of the Brandenburg Gate. They carried life-size portraits of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, and called on him to press East Germany to tear down the wall.

    Remember those heady days with Gorbachev? Or are you too young?

  • And from Time Magazine’s archives comes this article, “Refugees Freedom Train”, dated 16 October 1989, about one month before the Wall fell. The article describes the continued emigration of East German citizens via other bloc countries, and the very awkward 40th anniversary of the East German regime which had just been celebrated in Berlin with a less-than-enthusiastic Mikhail Gorbachev visiting. Excerpt:
    Few expect things to get better under Honecker. And though in failing health, he shows no signs of turning power over to the next generation. While their neighbors in Poland and Hungary rush to embrace the reforms of perestroika and glasnost, East Germany’s aged chieftains have stoutly withstood all blandishments, even from Gorbachev, to abandon the strict orthodoxies of conventional Communism. The result: a country so calcified that its citizens find a hopeful future only in flight.

Today’s video is a U.S. propaganda film from 1962 entitled “The Wall”. Below is the YouTube clip; more information is available at the Internet Archive’s entry for “The Wall”. The film lasts nine minutes and, as far as I could tell in my quick viewing of it, seems to be factually accurate. At one point in the video (7:57) you will quickly see a small memorial to Ida Siekmann, to whom I dedicated a short blog post sometime back: “Remember Ida Siekmann”.