Germany marks construction of infamous Berlin Wall

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    Aug 13, 2011 4:39 PM GMT
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-08-13-berlin-wall-anniversary_n.htm

    A few random thoughts:

    Been on both sides of the wall. Differences between east and west were stark.

    Met two brothers who on separate occasions escaped from E Berlin to W Berlin. Couldn't tell their parents they were making the attempt. Stasi would hold relatives for 24 hours and if they confessed to knowing, they would be imprisoned for months. Told me they thought they had a 60% chance of successfully escaping, but living in a free market system was worth the chance. Expected to never see their parents again. Went with them to the spot in former E Berlin where they would look towards the West and know someday they would be there. Met the brothers' parents.

    Met one guy who tried to escape and was caught. He went to prison for months. Only when E Germany fell was he released.

    Was in Berlin when the wall came down. Have pieces of it.

    A few days after the border was opened, I was seated at a table in a restaurant with two families who were reuniting for the first time since the wall went up.

    Met 3 E German border policemen patrolling. Gave one my camera and he took photos of me and the other 2 in front of the wall.

    Been to the spot near where the wall used to be which is a memorial for those killed. Site below is in English. If you have the time, pick a couple of victims and read about them.

    http://www.berlin.de/mauer/gedenkstaetten/index/index.en.php
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    Aug 14, 2011 6:23 PM GMT
    Will just bump this one time to see if there is any interest in this topic. Most of the view count up to this point has been my adding or correcting typos.
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    Aug 14, 2011 8:01 PM GMT
    I think what's interesting is that since the reunification of Germany, there's still this economic and cultural division between East and West. Apparently the East still lags behind the West in the job market and overall standard of living. I know many people from the East migrated to the West no sooner than the country reunified.

    Many older people who remember divided Germany have maintained the mentality of 'us' versus 'them'. I've heard that young people born and raised after reunification don't see or care about the East-West division, but older people do. Some still see each other in an antagonizing way.
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    Aug 14, 2011 8:57 PM GMT
    pocketnico saidI think what's interesting is that since the reunification of Germany, there's still this economic and cultural division between East and West. Apparently the East still lags behind the West in the job market and overall standard of living. I know many people from the East migrated to the West no sooner than the country reunified.

    Many older people who remember divided Germany have maintained the mentality of 'us' versus 'them'. I've heard that young people born and raised after reunification don't see or care about the East-West division, but older people do. Some still see each other in an antagonizing way.

    This is consistent with my recollection. When the border restrictions were first lifted there was widespread euphoria on both sides. I still have a couple of T-shirts, in German "The bears are dancing." (Two bears, symbols of Berlin, one with a Bundesrepublik flag, the other with one from the DDR.) Another T-shirt "We never want to be separated again." Also at the time many stores in West Berlin put up signs welcoming people from the East to browse, knowing they could not buy much because their Ostmarks were not worth much.

    Many younger folks, such as the brothers, even though they were raised in the East, quickly adapted and pursued careers. Was a problem with the older ones. Some of them from the East felt they were owed things because they had been deprived over the years. There got to become some resentment by those in the West. Many said "We worked for what we have. They can too." One guy told me that he and many others wanted the wall back, but this time a few meters higher.

    I think those antagonisms have largely faded with the newer generation, and especially with new problems they jointly face, especially resulting from immigration issues, but that is a whole other subject.