Monday, November 9, 2009

Berlin 20 Years On

Twenty years ago today the Berlin Wall came down. Germany was reunited soon after and the following year the communist governments of Eastern Europe were consigned to history. By December 1991 the USSR would cease to exist and 14 counties would gain their independence from Moscow. Today Europe is entirely democratic with the possible exception of the former Soviet republic of Belarus. The reason that Europe is a free continent today is that the US led NATO alliance was willing to stand up to the Soviet Union and ultimately wrestled it to the ground. This is a fact that many left wingers have trouble accepting but it is an indisputable fact of history. And thanks to those who stood up for democracy the average Eastern European citizen can visit a relative in Germany, go on holidays to Spain or move to Ireland for work. A far cry from the Eastern Europe of old with its barbed wire and high walls. Below are some photographs I took in Berlin in 2006 of various cold war relics.

A section of the Berlin Wall remains in place as a symbol of the city's dark past.

On closer inspection

More of the wall

The famous Check Point Charlie where US and East German troops faced each other for over 25 years. The check point with the mock troops remains as a tourist attraction.

This image of the US soldier is a well known Berlin land mark

A view of Check Point Charlie from the museum above the site of the former East West flash point. The souvenir sellers are a constant presence at this location.


Paul said...

Hi Ted, it's not just left wingers that have a problem in accepting that the US and NATO deterred the Warsaw Pact and kept the peace. Supporters of the EU project do as well. They seem to believe that the EU has kept the peace in Europe and that centralised power is the key to European peace. I would argue in fact, that centralising power was a key reason for the 1914-45 conflicts and earlier ones. The 'rights of small nations' still seems a good idea to me. Separately Re your top ten war films, is '9 Company' on the list? About the USSSR in AFG, a great film that of course resonates today.

Ted Leddy said...

Hey Paul,

Thanks for your comment as always. Interesting point about the EU even though I do think the European project played its part despite the concerns we share about centralising power. The EU with its common market and interests did succeed in eroding nationalism throughout the continent resulting in less wars and more political stability. Furthermore the economic prosperity of the EU gave the countries of the Eastern block a real incentive to go democratic when they could just as easily have become dictatorial post 1990. This is also true of Spain and Portugal who might have remained dictatorial into the 1980s had it not been for the dangling EU carrot.

I'll be honest, I don't know "9 Company" but I will try to see it before I complete my list. I'm working on my number 5 right now. Hope all is well this Armistace Day.