Wall to wall history..

imperial picA bit of the Berlin Wall has popped up outside the Imperial War Museum here in London.

Cold War relic, war museum – makes sense, I guess. (writes Patrick Jackson from the World Today ). There is a cartoon on it, a big face shouting “Change your life”. 

usainDid you know that last month the mayor of Berlin gave Usain Bolt a chunk of the wall after the World Championships?

Three tons of reinforced concrete for the fastest man on Earth. That’s some heavy symbolism. Breakthroughs, life-changing events, achievements.

My colleagues and I are playing with ideas about how to mark the 20th anniversary of the wall coming down. 

Unlike some of the others, I don’t have any fragment of the wall to ponder Berlin wall picmyself. On 9 November 1989 I was living incommunicado with some Soviet students in Moscow, fairly oblivious to the outside world.

We had no TV set and hardly ever bought the “newspapers”. It was the falling of the early snows, not the wall, that registered.

As somebody who could have been on the Moon for all it mattered, it’s doubly interesting for me to hear how the event affected people, and not just Germans. I imagine there is some strong magic in the bits of concrete people keep as souvenirs.

Though maybe not in the bits they use to decorate one Las Vegas urinal.   

How many of you keep a piece of the wall? Does it evoke a heady time of peace and possibilities?

After two decades of “hot” wars and the bursting of the credit bubble, how are the touchstones of people’s hopes looking now?

19 Responses to “Wall to wall history..”

  1. 1 vijay pillai
    September 30, 2009 at 00:33

    i know back in 1986 that world cannot go on as it were and predicted the collapse of cold war then and 1987 came the Blue print for our survival ,and in 1989 Gobachov announced openness and freedom to soviets and ended the cold war and the Berlin wall came down.

  2. 2 Dennis Junior
    September 30, 2009 at 04:50

    How many of you keep a piece of the wall?

    …No…I never got a piece of the wall (Berlin)

    ~Dennis Junior~

  3. 3 vijay pillai
    September 30, 2009 at 10:17

    I dont mind 2 pieces of a kg of the wall each free , one for keep and other for testing the charateristics of materials used to build and the strength by crushing it ..

  4. 4 John in Salem
    September 30, 2009 at 16:04

    I didn’t need to see the wall when it was standing to know what it meant, and I don’t need a piece of it now any more than I need a piece of Auschwitz or the World Trade Center to remind me of the nature of evil.

  5. 5 nora
    September 30, 2009 at 16:48

    The Berlin wall came down, the walls around Palestinians went up. What did we learn?

    • 6 loudobservant
      November 9, 2009 at 21:45

      loudoYou have made a good observation.
      Unfortunately,no one is paying attention to this subject as more and more Palestinian walls of apartheid are erected daily,and these divide father from son, home from farm and access to outside world.Talks and more talks, but no concrete actions are taken.I wonder how long and how far these talks will go on?

  6. 7 Ibrahim in UK
    September 30, 2009 at 18:20

    To me, walls symbolise how politicians use differences as justifications for hostility, competition and isolation, rather than an opportunity for reconciliation, cooperation and inclusion.

    • 8 Mustafa
      October 4, 2009 at 05:58

      That is exactly what is happening in Israel and was happening in Iraq too; and, may be in Afghanistan
      Palestine is the burning question right now.Clinton dilly-dangled around it for 8 years,Bush completely ignored it for 8 years,knowing and saying only one thing:Israel (ONLY) has a right to defend itself.

  7. 9 patti in cape coral
    October 1, 2009 at 13:36

    I agree with John in Salem, what the wall symbolized is more important than the wall itself.

  8. 10 scmehta
    October 1, 2009 at 14:34

    Walls are built piece-by-piece, and are also brought down piece-by-piece; the same goes for our trust on each other. Don’t raise such walls which sure need to be brought down!

  9. 11 Amy in Oregon
    October 1, 2009 at 17:31

    I was a college student doing a double major of journalism and Russian at the time the wall came down. I remember discussing the symbolism in many classes and the effect it would have on the world. I also remember talking with my dad the year before about how the Soviet Union was on the way out and so was communism in Eastern Europe. He thought I was so far off base and I took much pleasure in hearing him saying “You were right, I was wrong” when everything took place. In August of 1990, I was in Europe with a group of students from my university and we got to interact with fellow college students. One of the most memorable days was the one we spent with them in East Berlin and listening to how different their lives were from ours and what their expectations were now that the wall was down. We got to visit the wall and got to use a pick ax to help “knock” it down and I still have several chunks of the wall. Getting to do that with people my own age who were about to embark on careers and move away from the safe haven of college is something that will stay with me forever.

  10. October 3, 2009 at 15:46

    I like the text. It is a pertinent rebuke to the notion that ideas and people can be walled in permanently.

  11. 13 Jim Newman
    October 4, 2009 at 05:59

    Hello again
    I think the saying ‘good walls make good neighbours’ is not true in most cases. Churchill’s iron curtain decending over Europe presaged a propaganda war without mercy.
    We all build walls, unfortunately – invisible barriers that others cross at their peril.
    The best we can do, I suppose, is examine our motives, try to conquer our fears and dismantle our walls brick by brick.

  12. October 4, 2009 at 21:08

    It has to be both ways, to be truly working.
    What the world now vehemantly requires is:-
    The old order changeth
    Yielding place to new;
    And God fulfills himself in many ways,
    Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

    That is theposition in the world now.One “good” custom is “corrupting” the world.
    Churchill was the ardent opponent of Independence for African colonies, and, the churchill of today is doing the same thing as far as Palestinian sovereign state’s creation goes.

  13. October 4, 2009 at 21:49

    In January,1964,the then President of Tanganyika,Julius Nyerere,employed mercenaries to overthrow the sultunate in Zanzibar;the irony is, the UN the EU,UK,USA and thwe whole of Europe were watching and having a morbid pleasure out of the whole episode,but,no one of them had the courage to stop the massacre of innocent Musllim Arabs and others.The eye-witness account narrates that bodies were floating in the Indian Ocean and others were buried in mass graves, thouands of children,women and men and the aged.The same thing is repeatedly practised by Israel in Palestine, and yet again, the same scenario!!!That is why there is an ardent need of changing the old order which keeps corrupting the world.

  14. October 4, 2009 at 22:45

    The Islands of Zanzibar were annexed to Tanganyika to form the current Tanzania.After the bloody coup, after 45 years,the island has seen no growth in population nor prosperity.The currency has been drastically devalued and the island has become a zoo which attracts tourists for curiosity reasons.The place was once booming in commerce and trade, now has nothing to export, as the owners of the clove and copra plantations fled overnight and the first vice-president Karume initially destroyed all shambas to make room for houses,which have become haunted, ghost housing complex as there are no occupants.

  15. October 4, 2009 at 23:55

    Thanks Emille Barre.You have hit the nail on the spot,so to say.That is exactly the idea of the occupant,Israel,for the past 62 years.The naked truth is,that, despite open injustices and malpractices,the world is saliently silent and mum; thus, the oppressors get away with it and make a mockery of the whole situation.

  16. October 7, 2009 at 23:45

    The person who carried out a genocide of over a million Rwandesy a few.e 15 years ago, does not deserve a trial.I wonder how such creatures are given safe haven in the world? Does it not show that this world is a weird and corrupt entity, the same way as certain leaders and nations are? You can fill in the dots and gaps in view of the current and past wars on innocent nations by a few.

  17. 19 loudobservant
    November 10, 2009 at 19:04

    My comments about WALLS was in response to MS.Nora’s above.

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