Piece of History
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Remembering the 9th of November 1989.
Despite visiting Berlin on ten different occasions, I don't really have any digital pictures of my time there and when it comes to talking about the Berlin Wall, I am embarrassed to admit that despite receiving a large piece of the wall from German friends in the late 80s, early 90s, my family seems to have thrown out that piece of history when we moved house.
The piece of history probably buried in the rubble of a footpath, foundation or another wall.
The fragment was not easily carried from Germany and represented a very different world where Berlin was at the forefront of any potential Cold War nuclear conflict or tank war.
People died attempting to cross that border and families were separated when the wall went up in 1961. I had friends who lived in the west and knew many people my own age who grew up in East Berlin.
One friend drove the iconic Trabant which was driven in East Germany and another never tasted chocolate until after the wall came down when she was 9 years old.
It was a very different time from the EU we know today, not long after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Ireland's own border started to become less dangerous in the 90s and was eventually dismantled.
Borders broke down across Europe and with the advance of a single currency and the ability to fly Ryanair into former military airports, travel and freedom expanded within the region as former communist countries in Eastern Europe joined the EU.
I have visited Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Slovakia and the only time I've needed a visa in Europe was to travel to Belarus.
BREAKING APART PEACE BY PEACE
This week during the Spanish election debates, a politician held up a piece of pavement from Catalunya that he claimed was not a piece of the Berlin Wall but a rock thrown at the Policia.
We see huge division around the world with the prospect of another border in Northern Ireland and people looking for independence in Scotland, Catalunya and even Wales. We see the leader of the free world winning an election on division and shouts to "Build the wall" which strongly contradicts the inspirational words of Ronald Reagan who demanded that Russia "Tear down this wall" or JFK who claimed, "Ich bin ein Berliner."
While we may have enjoyed peace for years in Europe, Vladimir Putin must be smiling now as he sees the fracturing and crumbling of Western democracies and remembers the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago where he was based in East Germany.
He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel with the KGB and resigned in 1991 after 16 years service and entered politics. I guess one man's rubbish is another man's treasure but I wish we never threw out that peace of history.
Photographs taken from a visit to Park Europa in Madrid which has a section of the Berlin Wall.