Tuesday, 27 June 2017


I remember, privileged to be in Berlin in autumn 89, a few days before the wall came down and  witnessing how the wall, a huge forbidding edifice  of concrete barbed wire  and no mans land that divided worlds, divided a a city, families, lives,  guarded by young men with machine guns, a place of death for many years, just physically was dismantled and became a thing of the past once people stopped believing in the separation. Belief in it just dissolved. We, my brother and I, were in Berlin performing The Summit at the Tempodrom on the Reichstag lawn. 
On an afternoon off, I went to the short distance, about 1/2 a mile to Checkpoint Charlie. Picture this: at Checkpoint Charlie,where a street crossed the wall going from west to east. There was a white line, representing the wall dividing east from west, painted on the road. It was  guarded by East German border guards with rifles. At that time, the week before the fall of the wall many East Berliners, 'Ossies' (the German for 'east is 'Ost') as they were nicknamed by the 'Wessies', had crossed the wall. They congregated at the wall to taunt the border guards from the West Berlin side of the line, who, rifles lowered, no longer believed in the military orders to shoot anyone crossing the line. The Ossies would put fingers and toes across the line- where a few days earlier they would have been killed for such an act, now it was a taunt, a joke about power. Belief in the wall had gone. It evaporated in days that autumn. At the time, it felt human beings had evolved beyond wall building. Now, the old knee jerk fear re-emerges.The Mexican Wall and Brexit mentality seems to have proved that wrong, but it became clear that the wall had to exist in people's mind for the physical wall of bricks and mortar to exist .That is the  true importance of this event now.
I suspect that attitude of wall building, barriers against the other are more and more becoming redundant concepts.
There is mingling of people there is mixing of cultures. The 'fear of the other' attitude that builds walls wants to return the world to a time that has gone

No comments:

Post a Comment