It has been 25 years since the Berlin Wall was torn down.
On Sunday, thousands of people gathered in Berlin at a ceremony to mark the occasion.
History of the Berlin Wall
In 1961, a vast wall was built around West Berlin, the western half of Germany’s capital city. The wall was built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as a barrier to keep the western side of the city secluded.
No one on either side of the wall could cross it without special permission from the East German government. Any East Germans who tried to leave were prevented by armed guards at the wall.
Life was very different for East Germans than it was for West Germans outside the wall.
After 1949, following World War II, East Germany’s military and police were controlled by the communist Soviet Union.
West Germany, on the other hand, “developed into a western capitalist country with a social market economy and a democratic parliamentary government,” Wikipedia says. This means that West Germany became much like a “westernized” democratic country.
In 1989, more than 13,000 people in East Germany managed to escape through Hungary. They later went to West Germany and protested the East German government. That sparked a protest within East Germany, known as “The Peaceful Revolution.” Eventually, the East German government agreed that the wall could come down.
There was an enormous party on the wall as people took hammers to it, chipping away at it, and rejoiced that East Germany was no longer off-limits. People welcomed the people from East Berlin as they flooded into West Germany and the country became united again.
At the 25th anniversary ceremony last weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the fall of the Berlin Wall sent, “a message of hope and that dreams can come true, nothing has to stay as it is, even if it’s difficult.”
Most of the wall is now gone, but 2.2 kilometres of it still stands as a monument in Germany. Some parts of the wall were sent to other countries, such as the United Nations in New York, as a monument.
By Jonathan Tilly
Walls are sometimes used by nations to create a barrier around themselves. This allows the government to control everything that enters or exits its borders. In this way, it protects but also restricts.
How much freedom would you be willing to sacrifice in order to be safe? Name everyday moments where you sacrifice freedom in order to maintaion your safety?
Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Read the following article about an unclaimed prize. How does it add to your understanding of today’s article?
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).
Language Feature: German – English
Many English words have a German origin.
Can you guess the words of German origin from the list below. Check this link to check your answers.