The Berlin Wall
Posted on August 4th, 2010

Dr Ruwan M JayatungeƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ On November 9, 1989 the East Germany’s Communist rulers opened the Berlin Wall as the aftermath of Perestroika and Glasnost and also by the continuous pressure of the Easter German Public. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

I still recall some events relating to the Berlin Wall that took place when I was a medical student. When the time I crossed the Berlin Wall in 1988 to enter the West Berlin I had a gut feeling that this wall would not last forever. Being a non White and not look like a German I had no problems with the East German border guards. They allowed me to cross the Wall. But Vethalik who was from Riga had a little trouble and the East German Authorities triple checked his documents in order to make sure that he was not an East German in disguise. But eventually Vethalik was released.

Many East Germans whom I have met at that time were eager to cross the Berlin Wall and go to the West Germany. I specifically remember the words of a young East German whose name was Heinrich. He was so fascinated by the musical show conducted by David Bowie near the Berlin Wall West side. He said to me ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-my dream is to go to cross the Wall some day and start a new life in West Germany ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ Although he had thought that there was a heaven in the Western part we knew the mental picture he had was not hundred percent accurate.

The Berlin Wall was erected in the night of August 13, 1961. This decision was made by the Communist parties of the German Democratic Republic (GDR ) and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union met in Moscow and they decided to close the open border between East and West Berlin. The wall separated many families. Dispute the restrictions many people fled the Eastern part and entered the West. Then the GDR took stern measures. They built a concrete wall which earned the name Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Anti Fascist Protection Wall” by the GDR.

The total border length around West Berlin was 155 km . There were 302 watch towers and 20 bunkers. Nearly 192 persons were killed on the Berlin Wall when they tried to defect to the West side. In 1953 East Berliners rised up against the totalitarian system but the uprising was crushed with the help of Moscow. In 1955, the USSR declared that the GDR was fully sovereign. However the Red Army troops remained in East German territory, based on the four-power Potsdam Agreement .

The German Democratic Republic, which had been founded on 7 October 1949. Many Germans who opposed Hitler’s NAZI policies supported the new regime. The were willing to develop GDR in an anti-fascist model. But strict censorship alienated the people and the regime. GDR became another totalitarian sate. The East German secret service also known as STASI controlled the people with an iron fist even interfering in their private lives. STASI recruited a large number of agents and some calculations have concluded that in East Germany there was one informer to every seven citizens.

One should not forget that there was a positive side of East Germany as well. In the GDR everyone had a legally guaranteed security of tenure and ownership to the properties where they lived. The unemployment rate was low and free education and health care was guaranteed. GDR achieved many victories in international sports. But East Germans may have valued freedom as an utmost valuable component in their lives. Therefore during the Wall’s existence there were around 5,000 successful escapes to West Berlin.

In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987 Ronald Regan said to Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall that stood an obstacle to the human freedom. The disintegration of the wall brought with it the freedom to travel the world and, for some, more material wealth, but it also brought social breakdown, widespread unemployment and social insecurity. Berlin Wall taught us a lesson . Freedom is not cheep. Its expensive.

2 Responses to “The Berlin Wall”

  1. Siri Says:

    You have given a good description of the real state of affairs. Sri Lanka should study this as what the UNP plans is something similar to this. They want to open the floodgates to imports from the West and kill local industry. This will make a few UNP supporting importers rich at the expense of increased unemployment to factory workers. The people in Colombo (Colombians or Kalu Suddas) do not care about the poor or the hard working villagers who are the backbone of Sri Lankan society. They will sell State assets and resources for quick monetary gains to fund the imports and deplete the foreign resrves. After one term in office they would have destroyed all the gains in infrastructure the present government made. It will be back to basics again. This has been the story of Sri Lanka for the past 57 years. “One step forward – two steps backwards.” It is time we realised what is best for us and stuck to the tried and tested instead of chasing moon beams with Ranil and the UNP.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Ruwan brings us to focus on an important point – which economic path do we choose for Lanka ? The political ideal for Lanka seems to me a mix of a fairly liberal market place with social responsibility. America exported its jobs & now there is widespread unemployment. Let us not make similar mistakes in Lanka as Siri points out – too many imports will result in unemployment in Lanka. This leads to social unrest, insurrection & civil war. Here are some answers on how to get over this problem and still enjoy Democracy.

    (1) Germany, after two World Wars, has now built into its Constitution the Law that workplaces have to have 51% worker representation on their Boards of Directors of any company. This simple rule results in the workers themselves having a say in the company matters, stops CEOs taking huge salaries/benefits for themselves only ruining the company & shareholder money, cost cutting is done willingly, the workers throw in their full weight to see that the company flourishes and workers themselves see to it that the company never goes under, honest work at the workplace, etc.etc. The benefits are enormous. This has resulted in a stable economy in Germany while some other EU countries are floundering.

    (2) Co-operatives (Co-ops) could be formed for all types of businesses. Again, a large group of people participate, ensuring jobs.

    (3) Watch the film ‘Capitalism Hits the Fan’ by Professor Robert Wolffe. In this film Prof.Wolffe explains how the American economy nearly crashed, how uncontrolled Capitalism leads to the Bubble & Bust cycle, and how to remedy it.

    Part 1 : see at :
    Part II: see at :

    Can countries where the economy is ailing rise to the occasion and get this done, with or without legislation from their respective governments ? These are bold new ideas & challenges to save a country.

    I would like to add that I am not against businesses which treat their workers & shareholders with honesty and kindness.
    The main thing is to ensure JOBS on an ongoing basis & honoring shareholders money without serious losses.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress