obie119 (obie119) wrote,

Berlin Wall

I read a quote that struck a chord with me in the NYT coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling:

"For many Americans of both political parties, 1989 seemed a wonderful example of the embrace of universal values that happened to be theirs, and some believed it was only a matter of time before all dictatorships crumbled before the same forces of strength, openness, economic liberalism and people power."

If you are 13 when this happens, it means you've probably had maybe just a few years, maybe 5 at the most, of being aware that there is a world around you with history and different countries and problems and triumphs. So, that would put me at age 8, in 1984.

What we learned about the world: Russia is evil, it's communist. There are mean people who divided up Berlin into two halves - they are so careful to keep them separate that they made a big wall and they have mirrors under the cars to make sure nobody is sneaking in. The word "Russia" was like a curseword; there was graffiti in my town saying "the only good Russian is a dead one." As a kid of half-Russian ancestry, I especially did not like this!

So then when five years later, you see the whole Eastern bloc falling apart - and Russia itself not far behind - and on the TV you see all these nice German people celebrating and they are not much older than me...Well, you sort of think "Well, that was easy!" I think there's definitely a sense of optimism born of seeing only the tail end of the Cold War, only a movie's worth of A-Bomb fear before the happy ending and the credits roll.
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