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A Development in Berlin Threatens the Wall That Once Divided a Continent

March 11, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

As befits the capital of Europe’s most prosperous nation, Berlin continues to grow. A new luxury condominium complex is planned along the Spree River. Alas, construction requires knocking down part of the original Berlin Wall.

The development would remove only a small section of the 1400 yards remaining, but emotions run high. Protestors have gathered and one demonstrator complained: “This is history, and it belongs to us Germans. The whole world knows this.”

At least it should.

It is difficult to measure the human cost of communism. Nazism, with its genocidal attempt to eliminate an entire people, holds a special horror. But communism afflicted more nations and killed even more promiscuously.  The Black Book of Communism numbers the murdered at more than 100 million. Communism continues to inflict varying levels of hardship, oppression, and death in the few remaining, though wavering, acolytes: China, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam. Only North Korea remains pure, and completely murderous.

The Berlin Wall symbolized the horror of totalitarianism. What kind of a system imprisons its people? On June 12, 1987 Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate and said: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The Berlin Wall represents the worst of humanity. East Germans’ battle against the Wall represents the best.”

But Berlin’s moment had not yet arrived. Even though Mikhail Gorbachev pushed glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union, what President Reagan had called the Evil Empire still loomed over Europe. When 1989 dawned communism obviously was exhausted, but few realized that the system was on its deathbed.

Then the dominoes began to fall, starting with Hungary. Budapest’s reform government tore down the border wall with Austria, freeing people throughout the Soviet bloc. Suddenly a vacation in Hungary meant asylum in the West.

East Germans who had suffered under Erich Honecker’s decrepit Stalinist regime began fleeing through Hungary. When the Honecker government sought to close that window, East Germans filled the West German embassy in Prague, Czechoslovakia, demanding freedom.

Others began protesting at home against the misnamed German Democratic Republic. Honecker advocated shooting demonstrators if necessary, but his colleagues retired him instead and the protests exploded. On November 4 a million people gathered in East Berlin to demand freedom.

Five days later the desperate government opened the Wall. …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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