Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 9th

You might have realized yesterday was an important day in Germany. While the day the Berlin Wall fell is not a holiday in my country (for historical reasons, you see, decades before the Nazis burned the synagogues on the same date), it still is a day to be celebrated.

I have my own story to tell about this day. I’ve never lived in the GDR (which basically ceased to exist when the Wall fell), but I have quite some relatives who did. When my father’s family fled from Eastern Prussia during the last year of the Second World War, some came to the northern part of Germany (close to the border to Denmark, where my father grew up) while others stayed in the eastern part (which later on became the GDR).

Anyway. One of my grandaunts was about to celebrate her birthday (her 65th birthday) in the middle of November and so we were organizing to get a visa for most of the older relatives living in the GDR. It was difficult and we didn’t expect that many of them to be able to come.

Then, about two weeks before my grandaunt’s birthday, the wall fell and suddenly all her relatives could come for a visit. It was a great party, as you can probably imagine.

But even for people without any relatives in the GDR it was a great day. Before it, nobody ever believed it would happen, the two German states would ever grow together into one. It was a dream, of course, for many people, but not one that could ever come true. (Very much like a dream in which you can fly – it can be great, but you won’t be able to fly any time soon in real life.)

Then, suddenly, people were climbing the wall, they started to tear it down. Within days the GDR ceased to really exist, because the border no longer existed. And not only did Germany grow back together into one country, Europe opened up to the east, countries like Poland or Hungary could become part of the European Union.

Today, Europe is much bigger than people ever expected it to be when the European Union was planned. In essence, it all started in the summer of 1989 when Hungary opened its borders, but the fall of the Berlin Wall became the most remembered situation connected to it.

Twenty years ago the Berlin Wall fell and two German states started to merge into one. It’s still not done completely, but we’re getting there. And twenty years ago the Cold War ended for good. That’s a good thing all by itself.

No comments: