The fall of the wall

I grew up with the and the cold war with Soviet Empire as a fact of life. No one really thought that the Berlin Wall would ever come down. In fact most people thought there was a greater than even chance of a global nuclear war ending life on the planet.

Even a year before the wall came down, you would have been thought mad if you had predicted its peaceful demise.

The fall of the wall (and eventual collapse of the Soviet Empire) remain the most significant global events of my lifetime.

But it was also the end of a tragic era for many families. Some parents gave away their children to friends West Berlin, so they could grow up free. Siblings were not able to see each other for almost 30 years. An entire country was locked up behind the wall – the only way the communist state could keep its citizens from fleeing the so called workers paradise.

A few years ago I was fortunate to meet Ronald Reagan’s speech writer, who penned the immortal line:

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

We often refer to the Holocaust, saying “We must never forget”. For me the same maxim applies to Eastern Europe – we must never forget. Hundreds of millions in effective state slavery. No rights to vote. No rights to leave. Basically no rights at all.

I personally have special reason to celebrate the fall of the wall. One of the most special people in my life was born in East Germany, and I would have never met her if Germany had remained divided.

The UN has days for everything – World Children’s Day, World Agriculture Day etc. I propose that the 9th of November should be World Freedom Day. That would be a day worth celebrating.

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