Tag Archive: DDR


During the course of your author’s life there have been four seminal events, each prompting the question: ‘Where were you when you heard … ?’

For Baby Boomer Almost DailyBrett, these were the four history changing news stories of a lifetime: JFK’s assassination (1963), Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon (1969), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the September 11 attacks (2001).

Ironically, it was a fatal PR mistake 30 years ago that triggered the final inevitable fall of the Wall, and with it the ultimate demise of Soviet Union-style Communism.

East Germany’s Günter Schabowski was tasked with announcing the planned travel policy easing of the so-called German Democratic Republic’s (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). When he was asked if the changes applied immediately … his assumed “as far as I know” response without reading the policy paper …  was affirmative.

Unintentionally he ignited the storming of the DDR’s borders, and most of all the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

Today ein Stück der Mauer prominently sits beside the elbow of your author, accompanying the futile search for the appropriate English words to recapture the global significance of this epochal event.

Tomorrow will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the monstrous Berlin Wall (1961-1989), leading directly to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Communist menace in Russia and Eastern Europe. The world is a safer place as result of overjoyed Ossies walking and driving with their sputtering Trabants  across East Germany’s borders to freedom, one of them being a woman by the name of … Angela Merkel.

She started the evening consuming a beer in a sauna east of the wall, and ended the evening drinking a celebratory brew from a bottle with a label she had never seen before on the west side of the wall. Today, she is the Chancellor of the reunified (Wiedervereinigung) Federal Republic of Germany.

Giving Proper Credit For The End Of Communism

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” — President Ronald Reagan speaking before the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall

If you ever travel to Berlin to touch the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, be sure to take the time to check out The Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The visitor can stand without fear on the very spot on the Friedrichstrasse in which American and Soviet tanks went eyeball to eyeball with each other. A critical miscalculation could have triggered a nuclear World War III.

Former Wall Street Journal Berlin bureau chief Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961, Kennedy, Khrushchev And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth” vividly recounts the tension of the superpower standoff. The museum also recounts these days, and the ingenious plots to escape East Germany and its hideous wall.

A separate wing of the museum is devoted to Reagan, his Tear Down This Wall speech on continuous loop, and his pivotal role in ending the Cold War.

And yet there is a debate to this day about who should take the lion’s share of the credit for putting together the plan, which led to the demise of the wall and the end of Communism.

The names in alphabetical order of Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, Pope Paul II and Margaret Thatcher all played a role in this transformation, and each should take a bow.

For Almost DailyBrett and those who despise historical revisionism for purely political purposes, Ronald Reagan will always take center stage in the eyes of history. He rejected detente or merely accepting Communist domination from Berlin to Vladivostok. Instead his policy was simple: “We win, they lose.”

The USSR lost.

Another winner was Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), who skillfully linked and achieved feared German reunification with the success of the European Union.  “German and European Unification are two sides of the same coin.” („Deutsche und europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten einer Medaille.“)

Today, Germany along with France are the de-facto leaders of Europe … regardless of when Britain leaves the EU. Germany has acknowledged, addressed and atoned its dark past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), particularly the 12 horrid years of Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust.

“The thought that a great nation (Germany) that had run amok should repent its crimes to the world. What other country has ever done such as thing?” — The character “Ed” quoting himself in John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field

And “Ed” speaking about yesterday leading to today:

“Germany was the cat’s whiskers. It’s citizens were simply the best Europeans ever. No other nation holds a candle to Germans, not when it comes to understanding what the European union is all about.”

Naturally, the point of emphasis is made by literary master John le Carré.

And it all started The Night The Wall Came Tumbling Down.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://www.forbes.com/profile/angela-merkel/#71bd54c022dd

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/cool-calm-and-collected-germany/

“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan

There are no trigger warnings at the front door.

Arguably there are more aging hippies per square inch in Eugene, Oregon than any other town in America. Berkeley may have a free-range beef against this claim. So be it.

And yet, there is a framed “Reagan Country” 1980 campaign poster in the living room of Almost DailyBrett’s Eugene residence.

Sometimes an aging hippie or wanna-be hippie will be enjoying one of Oregon’s craft beers or a glass of one of the Willamette Valley’s now legendary – and expensive – Pinot Noirs right under the smiling portrait of The Gipper.

Maybe out of politeness, guests neither mention the image of America’s 40th president nor ask to be moved to another venue in the house. Are they just being polite or have they somehow, someway reached the acceptance stage of Reagan’s legacy?

Either stance is just fine with your author.

As Nancy once said about her husband: “Ronnie appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

Making no aspersions either for or against the present leader of the free world, Almost DailyBrett would bring back Ronnie from the grave in a nanosecond. Alas, only one reportedly has risen from the dead.

“The man who beat communism”

Some historical revisionists have debated with your author about the roles that Harry Truman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II and maybe others played in ushering in the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism.

Indeed, they all contributed and deserve their respective shares of the credit.

The Reagan deniers are entitled to their opinions, but deep down we all know the truth: Reagan played the pivotal and primary role in ending the Communist menace and bringing down the ghastly Berlin Wall … therefore Reagan hangs proudly on your author’s living room wall.

“By defeating communism, Ronald Reagan ended one of history’s most violent centuries and opened the door … (that) democracy might become available to more of the people who wanted it.” – The Economist, June 12, 2004

“Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War – not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.” – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004

An entire wing of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum on the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin is dedicated to Ronald Reagan with his infamous, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” speech on continuous loop. The ich bin ein Berliners know the truth.

Walking freely and without fear underneath the Brandenburg Gate, your author appreciates the impact of these monumental words delivered a few feet away when the gate was closed, seemingly forever by the so-called Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR).

The Tax Cuts Worked

“There were two great triumphs, two things that I’m proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created – and filled – 19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale: America is respected again in the world, and looked to for leadership.” – Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, Jan. 12, 1989

Some have tried to convince Almost DailyBrett that tax cuts and tax reform (Reagan did both) simply did not, will not, and never will work. Sorry but your author must respectfully disagree.

The 19 million new jobs created  during Reagan’s presidency is a peacetime record in the history of the United States. Inflation plunged from 13.5 percent in 1980 to 5.1 percent two years later. Interest rates dropped from 21.5 percent in 1980 to 10 percent five years later.

As a campaign press director/gubernatorial press secretary for then-California Attorney General/later Governor George Deukmejian, we prevailed in the closest gubernatorial election in the history of the Golden State during a deep recession in 1982. Four years later during the Reagan economic boom, we won by the largest landslide in California’s history.

Yes, Governor George Deukmejian did a great job as the Golden State’s chief executive. We were also helped immensely by the success of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies.

Reagan was not perfect; perfection as always is in short supply.

The Gipper summed up best in his farewell address to the nation:

“All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.”

Not bad, not bad at all, Mr. Poster Man on the living room wall.

http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-tear-down.htm

https://www.reaganfoundation.org/ronald-reagan/reagan-quotes-speeches/farewell-address-to-the-nation-2/

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/when-reagan-walked-into-the-room/

“Been dazed and confused about walls for so long it’s not true
Wanted a border barrier, never bargained for you
Lots of people talk and few of them know
Soul of the Berlin Wall was created below” –
With Apologies to Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

There’s a whole lotta of confusion about walls.

Not just a brick in the wall, but the whole wall.

Many seem to equate the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall or barrier (if you wish) with the toppled Berlin Wall (1961-1989).

There are some who contend the proposed wall from Texas to California is “immoral.”

Does that mean they believed the Berlin Wall was “moral”?

Hope not.

Having twice visited Berlin and consumed oodles of history books and novels about the Cold War and the Berlin Wall, Almost DailyBrett may be able to throw some light on this subject, not a Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) floodlight.

The basic premise is that not all walls are created the same.

The Berlin Wall along with the western and southern borders of the German Democratic Republic was strictly intended to keep its citizens within the not-so-friendly confines of the Soviet satellite state.

For movie buffs, Sir Richard Burton (Alec Leamas) was shot at the base of the Berlin Wall in John le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.  Tom Hanks watched in terror from a subway train as brave souls were being mowed down at the wall in Bridge of Spies … they were trying to get out, not in.

The Berlin Wall and the entire elaborate border fencing system between West and East Germany was the only place on earth in which two nations’ border guards faced the same direction.

The Berlin Wall symbolized the Cold War division to between Freedom in the west and Communism in the east.

President John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963. President Ronald Reagan called upon Soviet boss Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” 24 years later. The both spoke at approximately the same spot in front of the Brandenburg Gate with die Mauer in the background.

For Almost DailyBrett a piece of the DDR’s “Antifascistischer Schutzwall” sits next to the PC composing this hopefully helpful blog.

Most of all, when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989. There was a global celebration as the Cold War came to an end.

The Intended Purpose of Most Border Walls

In contrast to the Berlin Wall, the intended purpose of most barriers throughout the course of civilization is border security.

Starting in the 221 BC, China built the first pieces of the 5,000-mile (or even longer) Great Wall with “border controls” to keep out unpleasant neighbors.

Ditto for Roman emperor Hadrian’s Wall, designating for 300 years the northern border of the empire, in present day Britain.

Closer to the present time, Israel has been concerned about its existence since its birth in 1948. Starting in 2000, Israel built a wall/fencing along the “Green Line” separating the Jewish state and unfriendly neighbors.

Could this successful wall be a model for the United States’ proposed barrier between itself and Mexico?

What do the Great Wall, Hadrian’s Wall, Israel’s Wall and the planned American wall/barrier all have in common: They were/are all intended to protect citizens and provide security against illegal entry, particularly those with nefarious intents.

The America-Wall is not meant to keep citizens in, but to keep non-citizens and related contraband out.

To be quite frank, Almost DailyBrett is dazed and confused why so many so very intelligent people for whatever reason are making historically ill-informed comparisons between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

Repeat: the former was to keep people in, the latter to keep people out.

Some have made the leap to suggest that since the Berlin Wall ultimately failed, therefore the U.S.-Mexico border wall will not prevail. The Berlin Wall was breached because East Germany collapsed under its own weight. In contrast, the United States is preparing for its 250th anniversary as an exceptional nation.

When the Berlin Wall came down, thousands were dancing, chiseling the wall, taking pieces of the despised wall as historical souvenirs.

If the U.S.-Mexico is ultimately constructed and properly enforced, Almost DailyBrett suspects that not everyone will celebrate in our divided country.

Nonetheless, your author is hopeful that everyone will some day at least comprehend the major differences between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/penning-his-25th-novel-at-86-years-young/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2017/09/20/build-trump-border-wall-learn-israel-first/678600001/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/brandenburg-gate-revisionist-history/

 

 

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