Sunday, August 14, 2011

50 years on: Getting over Berlin's 'Wall of Shame' (What aboaut the wall Israel has built?)

Fifty years ago today, the Berlin Wall was erected in haste across the bleeding heart of Germany's capital. The sudden and speedy construction of this East-West divide on the night of August 13, 1961, caught many Berliners by surprise, and those that tried - with increasing futility - to circumvent the barrier often became its victim.

These victims - not only those killed or imprisoned trying to cross the wall, but families separated by the partition for more than a generation – are commemorated at a newly upgraded Berlin Wall Memorial. With the German chancellor and president attending such a memorial for the first time, it is an unprecedented act of remembrance since, while Berliners have been happy to celebrate the fall of the wall, most have wanted to forget about its construction.

From the moment the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, Berliners not only rejoiced, but also quickly tried to remove every trace of their so-called Schandmauer, or "Wall of Shame".

"It was like, grab a hammer and knock it down. Get rid of this, just tear it down," remembers Martin Hirsch, only a teenager at the time. From what he can recall, no-one gave much thought to preserving any of the wall, or commemorating it. (more)