Germany, allies mark 30 years since Berlin Wall fell

International

FILE – In this Nov. 13, 1989, file photo, East German border guards stand in front of segments of the Berlin Wall, which were removed to open the wall at Potsdamer Platz passage in Berlin. Months before the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989, with the Soviet stranglehold over the Eastern Bloc crumbling, a young political scientist named Francis Fukuyama made a declaration that quickly became famous. It was, he declared, “the end of history.” (AP Photo/John Gaps III, File)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany marked the 30th anniversary Saturday of the opening of the Berlin Wall, a pivotal moment in the events that brought down Communism in eastern Europe.

Leaders from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic attended a ceremony at Bernauer Strasse — where one of the last parts of the Berlin Wall remains — before placing roses in the once-fearsome barrier that divided the city for 28 years.

“The Berlin Wall, ladies and gentlemen, is history,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said later at a memorial service inside a small chapel near where the Wall once stood. “It teaches us: No wall that keeps people out and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it can’t be broken down.”

Noting the cruelty of the East German regime — which had torn down a previous church on the former death strip site so snipers could get a better shot at people fleeing to the West — Merkel paid tribute to those who were killed or imprisoned during the Communist dictatorship and insisted that the fight for freedom worldwide isn’t over.

“We are bereft of excuses, challenged to do our part for freedom and democracy,” she said.

In a statement issued by his office, U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Germany on its anniversary, saying that “courageous men and women from both East and West Germany united to tear down a wall that stood as a symbol of oppression and failed socialism for more than a quarter of a century.”

“The United States and our allies and partners remain steadfast in our unwavering allegiance to advancing the principles of individual liberty and freedom that have sustained peace and spawned unparalleled prosperity,” he added.

Speaking to European leaders at Bernauer Strasse, head of the Berlin Wall memorial site, Axel Klausmeier, recalled the images of delirious Berliners from East and West crying tears of joy as they hugged each other on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989 .

The collapse of the Berlin Wall was brought about largely by peaceful protests and a stream of people fleeing East Germany that piled pressure on the country’s Communist government to open its borders to the West and ultimately end the nation’s post-war division.

Thirty years on, Germany has become the most powerful economic and political force on the continent, but there remain deep misgivings among some in the country about how the transition from socialism to capitalism was managed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged this in a recent interview with daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, saying that “with some things, where one might have thought that East and West would have aligned, one can see today that it might rather take half a century or more.”

She also recalled that Nov. 9 remains a fraught date in German history, as it also marks the anniversary of the so-called Night of Broken Glass, an anti-Jewish pogrom in 1938 that foreshadowed the Nazi’s Holocaust.

Light installations, concerts and public debates were planned throughout the city and other parts of Germany to mark the fall of the Wall, including a concert at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate.

Among those who had come to Berlin to celebrate were members of the Trabant Club Middle Hesse, an association that promotes the old East German car affectionately known as the Trabi.

Jens Schmidt, who fled East Germany before the fall of the Wall by driving his Trabi to Hungary and then across the open border to the West, said the club has many young members for whom learning to repair the simple but sturdy vehicles can be a lesson in history and civics, too.

“The team spirit,” he said. “It was stronger back then.”

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at https://www.apnews.com/FalloftheBerlinWall

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Clear

Abbeville

42°F Clear Feels like 34°
Wind
16 mph N
Humidity
53%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy. Record low temperatures expected. Low 24F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.
24°F Partly cloudy. Record low temperatures expected. Low 24F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.
Wind
12 mph NNE
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Full
Clear

Crowley

41°F Clear Feels like 33°
Wind
18 mph N
Humidity
55%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy. Record low temperatures expected. Low around 25F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.
24°F Partly cloudy. Record low temperatures expected. Low around 25F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.
Wind
12 mph NNE
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Full
Clear

Opelousas

39°F Clear Feels like 30°
Wind
16 mph N
Humidity
55%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies. Record low temperatures expected. Low 23F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.
24°F Partly cloudy skies. Record low temperatures expected. Low 23F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.
Wind
12 mph NNE
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Full
Clear

Breaux Bridge

39°F Clear Feels like 28°
Wind
23 mph N
Humidity
57%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A few clouds. Record low temperatures expected. Low near 25F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.
24°F A few clouds. Record low temperatures expected. Low near 25F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.
Wind
12 mph NNE
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Full
Clear

New Iberia

41°F Clear Feels like 31°
Wind
23 mph NNE
Humidity
65%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A few clouds from time to time. Low 34F. Winds light and variable.
25°F A few clouds from time to time. Low 34F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
7 mph NE
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Full

Sidebar

Trending Stories