BERLIN — I was in grammar school when the Berlin Wall went up, and I was married with three children when it came down. The physical division of Berlin began in 1961 and ended in 1989 — 30 years ago today (November 9, 2019).
Barbed wire eventually gave way to 96 miles of concrete wall that zigzagged through the city and into the countryside. More ominous than the wall itself were 302 watchtowers manned by soldiers ready to shoot.
Today, less than 1 percent of the wall remains. In places where portions stand, explanatory markers and photos tell the story. Elsewhere, stones in the street trace its former location. It was very sobering to witness when I visited Berlin in 2010.
In today’s hyper-partisan United States, it is interesting to reflect on how a clear fact can be described in opposing fashions. Consider this from one of the historical markers along the wall: “In West Berlin, the wall was openly called the ‘wall of shame,” while in East Germany it was described as the ‘anti-fascist protection barrier.'”