The wall be­gan com­ing down

The Maui News - - OPINION -

Twenty-nine years ago to­day, Nov. 9, 1989, a great sym­bol of the en­slave­ment of a peo­ple be­gan to crum­ble.

The Ger­man Demo­cratic Repub­lic — the pup­pet regime of the Soviet Union in East Ger­many — an­nounced that res­i­dents of East Ber­lin would no longer be re­stricted from cross­ing to free­dom in West Ber­lin. Peo­ple im­me­di­ately be­gan crawl­ing over the dreaded Ber­lin Wall — the 1961 Cold War artifact that kept East Ger­mans slaves of their com­mu­nist mas­ters.

By the end of the fol­low­ing year, the wall had been torn com­pletely down.

The de­struc­tion of the wall did not oc­cur in a vac­uum, of course. It fol­lowed the lib­er­al­iza­tion — and even­tual lib­er­a­tion — of gov­ern­ments in Poland and Hun­gary in Eastern Eu­rope. The sup­port of the West­ern Al­lies and the Catholic Church un­der Pol­ish Pope John Paul II em­bold­ened the Sol­i­dar­ity Move­ment in Poland and it gath­ered strength through­out the 1980s and the push for free­dom spread.

It is also true that Soviet Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Mikhail Gor­bachev re­sisted hard­lin­ers in his coun­try and re­fused to send armies to quell the re­volts. The Sovi­ets’ Eastern Bloc crum­bled.

In 1991, the Soviet Union it­self col­lapsed. Through­out the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, the wall was a con­stant re­minder of what was at stake in the Cold War — free­dom vs. slav­ery. Amer­i­can pres­i­dents fa­mously used the wall to drive home that point.

Just months be­fore his as­sas­si­na­tion, Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy stood be­fore the wall on June 26, 1963, and pro­claimed, “Ich bin ein Ber­liner (I am a Ber­liner).”

On June 12 1987, Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan stood be­fore the Bran­den­burg Gate at the wall and chal­lenged the Soviet Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, “Mr. Gor­bachev, tear down this wall.”

Just over two years later, the wall be­gan com­ing down.

(Sources: The Wash­ing­ton Post and Wikipedia)

Ed­i­to­ri­als re­flect the opin­ion of the pub­lisher.

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