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09 November 1989 – ‘I…I Can Remember…Standing By The Wall…’

09 November 2014 @ 21:57

…And the guns shot above our heads
And we kissed as though nothing could fall…

Heroes, David Bowie

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.

—Ronald Reagan, 12 June 1987

And The Berlin Wall fell on 09 November 1989.

Berlin-Wall-Fall-005x

It had stood for twenty-eight years, the construction of it having begun on 13 August 1961, an ugly scar the Soul of Europe that bisected the city of Berlin, Germany.

Berlin-Wall-Build-196110-002x

The Wall was also a festering wound on the body of Western Civilization that never stopped causing pain and reminding The West of it’s duty…and it’s failure to prevent the descending of the Iron Curtain over half of the continent.

Berlin-Wall-1986-001x

It fell, not because the USSR allowed it to — although they could have used their troops to try to prevent it — no, the Communists did not try to prevent it because they had been made decrepit by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II [now ‘Saint’ and ‘The Great’].  Mikhail Gorbachev had been rendered impotent and the Politburo’s puppets in Eastern Europe feared for their sniveling, bureaucratic, banally Evil hides.

Berlin-Wall-Fall-004x

It was a moment of grand triumph for The West, brought about by the courageous efforts of a few Cold Warriors who refused to give in to the Fifth Columnist Traitors, Fellow Traveling Nihilists, and relentlessly stupid Dupes in their midst.

Berlin-Wall-Fall-003x

This great Victory was squandered, smothered underfoot by the jackboots of Western fools marching towards The Age Of Leftist Hegemony.  The West won The Cold War, but lost The Peace to the Barbarians inside it’s gates.

I was born in 1961, not too long after the construction of The Berlin Wall began; I was as old as she was.  I will never forget everything The Wall stood for.  As I age and as more and more of  those who lived during it’s existence die off, I fear all that will be forgotten.

Berlin-Wall-PeterFetcher-Deaths-002x

East German Peter Fetcher lies dying
after he is shot by the Stasi for trying
to escape to Freedom in West Berlin.

Mark Steyn:

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It did not fall, of course. It was felled. It was felled by ordinary East German men and women who decided they were not willing to spend the rest of their lives in a large prison pretending to be a nation. On the other side of the wall – the free side – far too many westerners were indifferent to the suffering of the east. As I put it in my new book:

The presidents and prime ministers of the free world had decided that the unfree world was not a prison ruled by a murderous ideology that had to be defeated but merely an alternative lifestyle that had to be accommodated. Under cover of “détente”, the Soviets gobbled up more and more real estate across the planet, from Ethiopia to Grenada. Nonetheless, it wasn’t just the usual suspects who subscribed to this feeble evasion – Helmut Schmidt, Pierre Trudeau, François Mitterand – but most of the so-called “conservatives”, too – Ted Heath, Giscard d’Estaing, Gerald Ford.

There were three key figures who stood against the détente fetishists, and in large part against the disposition of western electorates. Their names were Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II – all heroes in Eastern Europe to this day, yet, as Richard Fernandez notes, all absent from the coverage of today’s observances. The A-list guest is Mikhail Gorbachev, whose plan was to preserve Soviet Communism by putting a cosmetic gloss on it. Today, the old passivity has returned: The Wall “fell”.

…Here, from his Brandenburg Gate citizen-of-the-world speech in 2008, is Obama’s characterization of what happened a quarter-century ago:

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

No, sorry. History proved no such thing. That’s comforting pap, but it’s not what happened. In the Cold War, the world did not “stand as one”. One half of Europe was a prison, and in the other half far too many people – the Barack Obamas of the day – were happy to go along with that division in perpetuity. And the wall came down not because “the world stood as one” but because a few people stood against the pap-peddlers. The truly courageous ones were the fellows like Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel and a thousand lesser names, who had to stand against evil men who would have murdered them if they’d been able to get away with it. That they were no longer confident they could get away with it was because a small number of western leaders had shoveled détente into the garbage can of history and decided to tell the truth. Had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and John Paul II been like Helmut Schmidt and Francois Mitterand and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter, the Soviet empire would have survived and the wall would still be standing.

Reagan and Thatcher won the war. Obama and Schröder and the like inherited the peace. Which is why today’s anniversary has that strange, passive, evasive quality. Or as Obama would put it:

There is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Generally speaking, when the world “stands as one” it’s in the cause of inertia: Right now, the world stands as one in feeling it’s no big deal if Iran goes nuclear, or Putin gobbles Ukraine, or the Islamic State starts head-chopping its way into Jordan, or members of certain unspecified multicultural communities plot to kill the Queen. The alternative to waiting for the world to “stand as one” is to stand up yourself, and stand for something. And now as in the Eighties there are few takers for that.

Both in foreign matters and domestically.

We need more Outlaws, like Reagan and Thatcher, Walesa, Havel, and Wojtyła in this New Dark Age.

Warsaw, Moscow, Budapest, Berlin, Prague, Sofia and Bucharest have become stages in a long pilgrimage toward liberty. It is admirable that in these events, entire peoples spoke out – women, young people, men, overcoming fears, their irrepressible thirst for liberty speeded up developments, made walls tumble down and opened gates.

—Saint Pope John Paul The Great

-From that Richard Fernandez post Mr. Steyn refers to:

If the media is trying its level best to avoid talking about what the fall of the Berlin Wall was about and how it came to be, then they’re doing a good job.  We are left with the bare event and its consequences.  But of song and lay there is none, for the bards have fallen silent on the subject.  Not that the heroes of old mind. Ronald Reagan once said “there is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit”.  If one cares not for glory or tale, the deed is enough.

Yet some things still remain in their absence. For example there is in Air Force tradition of the Missing Man Formation. A finger four “flown with the second element leader position conspicuously empty … the flight approaches from the south, preferably near sundown, and one of the aircraft will suddenly split off to the west, flying into the sunset.”

In the Missing Man it’s not the aircraft we see that are important, but the one we can’t see. This is the poem that is traditionally associated with the ceremony.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

And they soar far aloft, chasing the shouting wind, too far for even memory or  forgetfulness to mar.

Dead solid perfect, Richard, beautiful.

Walter Erickson:

The world is full of lesser lights
And full of lesser men
Who fly their paper ego kites
Denying where and when
The history of the time was changed
By greater men than they
And so their galas are arranged
As taking place today
Where mum’s the word on who did more
Demolishing that wall
No mention made of Reagan nor
Of Maggie or Pope Paul

-The Atlantic has up a very good slideshow here on The Berlin Wall.

-I’m looking over the wall and they’re looking at me…

-We could be heroes, just for one day…

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 November 2014 @ 12:47 12:47

    Being the child of a (legal) Grenadian immigrant (mom’s an American citizen now, having earned it long before my birth) I am compelled to tell you (and Mark Steyn) that the commies FAILED to gobble up Grenada because Ronald Reagan answered Grenada’s plea for help and he sent the Marines who went in and kicked Cuba’s ass and SAVED GRENADA. To this day, Ronald Reagan and the US Marines are held in high regard by the Grenadian people who appreciate their freedom.

    • formwiz permalink
      10 November 2014 @ 14:59 14:59

      Not just the Marines, but the 82nd Airborne, and the Rangers (Grenada put them on the map of the public consciousness) even more so.

      October 23rd is hailed as their 4th of July or Cinco De Mayo for what Uncle Reagan, as they call him still, did for them.

      • 10 November 2014 @ 15:21 15:21

        My Grenadian relatives still call him Uncle Reagan, he is loved. Thank you for providing the additional military information.

        I remember hearing terrible stories about what the commies did to innocent Grenadians before America rescued them, one story was that they (Castro’s commie bastards) forced young men into military service and one of those young men is known to have jumped from their ship, into the sea where he died, as death was preferable to that young man than forced servitude to the enemy.

        Castro’s goons also enforced a curfew with “shoot on sight” orders for violators.

        When America came to liberate Grenada, my grandmother hid under her bed as battle debris landed loudly on her home’s tin roof. There was great joy among my relatives when it was over, and Grenada ended up with a really nice airport that they did not have before then.

  2. 10 November 2014 @ 13:03 13:03

    Reblogged this on Femininican and commented:
    If YOU do not tell the tale of who caused the fall of the Berlin Wall and why it is important that the wall was brought down, you are failing future generations & aiding in their likely enslavement to the very totalitarianism that the Cold Warriors fought to free people from. Young people will not learn this history in school or in the media, it is up to YOU.
    Please click through to The Camp Of The Saints & read Bob’s entire powerful post. Thank you, Bob, for being one of the few who stubbornly refuses to allow revisionist history to come to pass unremarked. Never surrender.

  3. formwiz permalink
    10 November 2014 @ 14:55 14:55

    In a lot of ways, it was not only the end of the Cold War (WWIII, as some have called it), but also WWII in Europe.

  4. Shermlaw (RS) permalink
    11 November 2014 @ 10:17 10:17

    Bob,

    Please forgive a long comment. What follows is something I posted in 2009 when I had a blog.

    Further to part of yesterday’s post, comes now Paul Hollander, in an editorial published November 2, 2009 in The Washington Post (H/T Volokh) writes:

    The Berlin Wall that came down 20 years ago this month was an apt symbol of communism. It represented a historically unprecedented effort to prevent people from “voting with their feet” and leaving a society they rejected.

    [Snip]

    Soviet communism collapsed for many reasons, including the economic inefficiency that resulted in chronic shortages of food and consumer goods, and pervasive and mendacious propaganda, which amounted to the routine misrepresentation of reality highlighting the gap between theory and practice, and promise and fulfillment.

    [Snip]

    The failure of Soviet communism confirms that humans motivated by lofty ideals are capable of inflicting great suffering with a clear conscience. But communism’s collapse also suggests that under certain conditions people can tell the difference between right and wrong. The embrace and rejection of communism correspond to the spectrum of attitudes ranging from deluded and destructive idealism to the realization that human nature precludes utopian social arrangements and that the careful balancing of ends and means is the essential precondition of creating and preserving a decent society.

    I was aware that during this month, we would mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I knew it was the 9th, but as is my wont, I became distracted by other things this weekend, only to be reminded yesterday during my morning internet surfing.

    It’s hard to believe that are people who have no recollection of the existence of the Iron Curtain, a metaphor brought into existence during a speech by Winston Churchill at an otherwise nondescript liberal arts college in Fulton, Missouri. It some respects, I think that those of the younger generation, like my kids or my German nephew and niece, are perhaps the worse for it.

    People forget how stunning, indeed unanticipated the opening of the Wall was. For those of us with long memories, we recall that Hungary opened it’s border first, which caused a massive number of East Germans to decide to take a holiday to Budapest, following which they crossed the border to Austria and thence, to Germany. The East German government began being pressured to allow visits to the West and on this evening, 20 years ago, at about 5:00 PM, a spokesman stated that the borders would be open.

    No one believed him.

    After three hours or so, the first timid souls approached and were allowed through the checkpoints. Within minutes, it became a flood. By midnight, people were dancing on top of the wall and by morning the Iron Curtain was gone.

    It’s amazing how fast the idea of freedom takes hold. The EMBLOS mentioned last night, that the whole thing unfolded on television in Germany. In West Berlin an elderly woman said to her husband, *”Kurt, the Wall is open!” His response: “You’re crazy.”

    As for my own memory, in 1985, I flew to Germany during the Christmas holiday to meet the my future wife’s family for the first time. Among other activities , I accompanied my fiance and my future father-in-law on a day trip to Prague, the capital of what was then communist Czechoslovakia. Let me suggest, dear reader, that that single excursion disabused me forever of any sympathies I might have toward collective utopias established by governmental fiat, under circumstances where those governed are repressed in the name of the commonweal.

    I should note here, that the Official In-Laws To Be had a weekend condo a few kilometers from the Czech border. We’d payed a couple of visits to the border for purposes of skiing at a little town called “Bayerisch Eisenstein,” one of those obligingly quaint and picturesque towns that dot the Bavarian countryside. There, we’d skied on a slope which literally abutted the border, which was marked on the German side with blue and white barber poles and a split-rail fence. We’d also gone into town for lunch and visited the local train station, which, due to the boundary adjustments made following World War Two, was divided in half by the border.

    Anyway, a day or so later, we crossed the border on a German tour bus and made our way to Prague. Immediately across the border there was a delay as the bus had to be emptied and searched, the totalitarian functionaries conducting a complete inventory lest we be secretly smuggling Levis jeans or copies of the Declaration of Independence.

    Following that, we were ushered into a building where we were required to exchange one hundred, perfectly good German marks for it’s nominal equivalent in Czech Crowns, which were suitable for lining bird cages, inasmuch as there was nothing to buy where we were headed and the Czechs wouldn’t allow you to change the money back into German currency when you left.

    Then, finally, mercifully, we were on the way to Prague.

    Perhaps it was the fact that it was a gloomy day, but as we walked around the old city accompanied by the obligatory governmental handlers, I couldn’t help but notice the ubiquitous cameras at every intersection, panning the crowds. Perhaps that’s why no one smiled, even though it was the holiday season. As we would walk, people would brush past us and whisper “Geld wechseln?” One, who either had a very good eye or was one of the secret police about which we’d been warned in advance, asked me the previous question in English: “Change money?”

    Otherwise, Prague is an interesting city and were it not for the fact that I was constantly on guard against doing something which would cause me to run afoul of the secret police which we had been assured would be tailing our group, I would have enjoyed it.

    The real fun, however, came when we attempted to leave the country late that night. As we approached the border near the town of Železná Ruda, the checkpoints became more frequent and the inspections more intrusive, until we finally rounded a bend to be illuminated in what seemed to be thousands of spotlights. There, in front of us was a massive steel barricade blocking the road which I doubt even a tank could breach. No danger of anyone crashing through the border in an attempt to reach freedom.

    Anyway, we were ordered off the bus, without our coats and told to stand on a platform while, yet again, a complete search of the bus and contents, including our personal effects was conducted.

    A Czech soldier armed with the obligatory AK-47 and surly demeanor confiscated our passports and disappeared for half and hour while we waited in twenty degree cold. When he reappeared, he began to call the names of the tourists, handing each his/her passport in turn and allowing them back onto the bus.

    I should note, in 1985, West German passports were green. American passports were navy blue as they’ve been for a some time. Given that I was the only American citizen on this little excursion, my passport was easily visible in the pile of about 40 or so the soldier was holding.

    The soldier came to my passport about a third of the way through and studied for a moment before putting it back into the stack. Again it rose to the top and more people were allowed on the bus, and again, he stuck it back in the stack. One more time this occurred, until your humble correspondent was the lone person on the platform. The soldier, yet again, studied for a few moments before saying in very precise, if accented English:

    “Meeester Sheermaan.”

    Then, he proceeded to look around the platform for fifteen seconds or so, as if there might be another R. Sherman somewhere. I tentatively raised my hand. He stared me in the eye for a few seconds before flipping my passport at me, which hit me in the chest and fell to the ground, necessitating that I bend over to pick it up. I’m not ashamed to say, that as I did so, the thought of having a rifle butt smack me in the head crossed my mind.

    Of course that didn’t happen, but when I stood up to get on the bus, I noticed that the border guard was smiling, and it wasn’t one of those “thanks for visiting and come back soon” sort of smiles, but one of the most malevolent expressions I’ve ever seen. Suffice it to say, I vowed never to return behind the Iron Curtain as long as it existed.*

    Perhaps the above experience is why I’ve been rather cranky lately about the increasing government encroachment on our personal autonomy on numerous fronts.

    I’ve seen what the end result looks like. It most definitely made an impression.

    Please forgive formatting weirdness.

    • 11 November 2014 @ 22:11 22:11

      Thank you for that.

      You got a direct taste and view of Heaven On Earth.

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