This past month marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since construction began in 1961, the Berlin Wall has stood as a symbol for oppression and division. The wall originally divided the Capitalist occupied West Berlin from the Communist occupied East Berlin. The two sides had been divided by the allies t the end of the Second World War. Each side saw the other as the enemy, and the armed guards and security checkpoints lining the wall were a constant reminder of the tensions of the Cold War. Many tried to escape over the wall during its 28 years dividing Berlin, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries. The wall finally fell in 1989, as Germans on both sides chipped their way through and celebrated. This proved to be the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union, one of the last true Communist states.
While the wall came down 25 years ago, there is still a sense of separation in Berlin. The new unified German government had big plans for the city, but these never quite came into fruition. The city lost population, and lost much of its identity as the wall was destroyed. The hatred of Communism in the West led to the destruction of much of East Berlin, a scar that has not been erased with time. The two Germanys were distinct and each had their own history and character. The hasty attempts to eradicate Marxism had a much different effect than what was anticipated. Rather than bringing the two Berlins and the two Germanys together, they have been kept markedly separate.
East Germany was forced to accept West German customs, including currency and national traditions, continuing the oppression that they had felt under Communist occupation. While it came from a new source, the feelings of division still existed. Rather than a physical wall, there was an invisible wall erected between the Germans and the rest of the world. Foreign governments once again worried about the power of a unified German state. Unification brought about bigger issues than it solved. Now there was an economic and governmental burden here, as well as a social burden for former East-Berliners who were often treated with reproach.
Most of the wall has now dissapeared, and rather than serving as a historic warning against the faults of the Cold War, the efforts to push it aside remind many of the problems it symbolized. There are few parts left standing in their original places (like the one pictured on the right), but most have been removed or taken as souvenirs. Berlin has surely changed since the wall came down, and some of the immediate negative effects are no longer as visible, but the city and the country have not been restored to any sort of former glory. The effects of Communism and division are rooted too deep, and the efforts to bury them have not succeeded.