Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Berlin Wall and the Mexican Wall

november 10 2009

This week many people celebrate the fall of the wall in Berlin.

From august 13 1961 until november 9 1989 a wall divided families, a town, a country.

At the end of WW2 in 1945 it was decided at the Conference of Jalta to divide Germany in 4 areas, which would be governed by France, the Sovjet Union, the UK and the USA.

The area around the former capitol of Germany, Berlin, belonged to the Sovjet Union, but the city itself was devided into 4 zones too.

The end of WW2 accentuated the difference between communism (the sovjet union) and kapitalism (western world).

It escalated in 1948 at june 24 for the first time.
Because there was a lot of illegal trade the Deutsche Mark was introduced as a means of stopping illegal trade and preventing inflation. Russians felt threatened by it.
The sovjet union closed all traffic (streets, railways, waterways) between the western zones and West-Berlin.
West Berlin had to be supplied by air.
The blockage lasted until may 12 1949.

In the meantime the sovjet union had created a borderpolice.
Whoever wanted to cross the border between the eastern and western zone needed a interzonepassport.
Barricades and wires marked the border.

At october 2 1949 the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR)was founded in Eastern Germany.
Many people left for western germany, to find better jobs and a better life.

From 1952 the sovjet union took action against people who fled to the west.
The border was marked with fences, security towers and alarm installations.
At the side of the border they created a 500 meter wide bufferzone.
The part in the builded area was hard to guard which enabled people to cross the border without too many difficulties.
Between 1949 and 1961 about 2,6 million east german people escaped to western germany using Berlin. Polish and Tjech people used that part of the border too.

Because many people who fled were young and well educated this had a negative influence on the economy and in 1961 sovjet leader Nikita Chroesjtsjov decided this needed to stop.

In the night of august 12 to 13 the building of the Berlin Wall was started and within weeks a massive concrete wall marked the border. It was highly guarded with soldiers with the order to shoot to kill.
Only 7 places enabled people to cross the border with legal documents which were very hard to get.

It's said that during the years 200 fugitives were killed, but the number of missing people is a lot higher. At least one of the guards tried to cross the border. He was caught on camera and his photo was seen all over the world.

At the western side of the wall a statue was erected for those who died.

Protests against the wall were heard all over the world.
Many celebrities and politicians visited Berlin.
In 1963 John F. Kennedy, and in 1987 Ronald Reagan.
They both made very clear they wanted the wall to come down.

The aversion against the wall grew and in may 1989 Hunguarian guards cut a hole in the border with Austria. Soon after that the same happened in Prague.

In october 1989 Erich Honecker lost his position partly with the support of Moskow. He was succeeded by Egon Kenz who wanted free elections.

November 9 1989 DDR-politician Günter Schabowski announced at a press-conference that the wall would be opened.
A journalist asked him when people would be free to travel.
His answer: "Sofort, unverzüglich" (right now)

East germans immediately traveled to the wall, surprising the guards who didn't know what to do.
Because of the massive crowds they finally opened the gates.

People started to break the wall with everything they have, even scratching with their bare hands.
Some saw an economical gain and they took the blocks concrete home and sold them.
Up til now people buy blocks that are said to come from the Berlin Wall.

The fall of the Berlin Wall reunited families and friends and ended the imprisonment of a whole nation.

When you think this is something that happened in the past, and that we have learned from history, you're wrong.

Between the USA and Mexico a huge wall of concrete and fences is erected to prevent Mexican people to cross the border.
It's a wall between the first and third world, keeping people who are poor away from wealth.
The average income of a Mexican is less than $4,000, in the USA it's over $30,000.

Because the western world doesn't acknowledge people who want to better their life by wanting better jobs, Mexican people who have crossed the border are illegals.
The use of words as "illegal aliens", places these people outside feelings of compassion.

The US-Mexico border is about 2,000-miles (3,000 km) long.
661 miles (1,058 km) is marked with a fence or a concrete wall with a fence.
It's estimated that between 400,000 and 1 million people tried to cross the border and that 20 to 25% of them were caught.
The border is guarded by official guards, but also by citizens who see it as their duty or consider it as an adventure to catch people who cross the border.

Recent numbers indicate that repairing a hole in the wall/fence costs about 1,300 dollars, maintaining it the next 20 years: $6.5 billion
(according to Robin Emmott at http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/10/02-5)

Today it was in the news that at Juarez alone the border costs 15 deaths a day.

It's estimated in official documents that since 1994 5,600 people lost their live while trying to cross the border. Those who are killed by illegal border surveillance are not counted.
This year alone Customs and Border Protection has reported 416 deaths. Many of them died in the desert or in the rivers. Undertaking a risky journey to cross the border that way makes clear how desperate people are.

I can't understand how a country that calls itself Christian can tolerate the killing of so many people.

Didn't Jesus himself share Bread and Wine as an example for all?


1 comment:

  1. Hello. First, the USA is not a "Christian" country, no matter how many people may say it is, or want it to be. It is a secular nation with very strict rules about separation of church and state. Even though God is referenced on money & the tradition is strongly Christian (specifically protestant) the nation has no official religion, Christian or otherwise. It is barred by law from supporting one particular religion over another.

    Second. The people who were killed trying to cross the Berlin wall were murdered by the guards. The vast majority of people who die crossing the southern border into the USA (and it's not just Mexicans, they are from all over Latin America and South America) die from things like heat stroke, drowning, perhaps snake bites or perhaps at the hands of the smugglers. They're crossing the border at remote and dangerous places, and in the summer especially, it's dangerously hot. Once they get across the border, they still may have hundreds of miles to go before they reach any kind of civilization - it's a big country. Your post makes it sound like border guards are hunting these people down and executing them, and comparing them to the DDR guards. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but that's not true.

    Third. I think trying to build a wall between the border of the USA and Mexico is a big waste of money, and is a knee-jerk conservative reaction to this issue. It would be better in the long run to build up the economy in Mexico and other countries, but I honestly have no idea how to do that. I don't think my country has made that a priority, and it should.

    I have no great love for the likes of George Bush, but I can tell you right now, if I had to choose between living with George Bush as president, or spending my life under the rule of people like Erik Honecker or Leonid Brezhnev, I'd pick George Bush every time. You'd have to know me to know how strong a statement that is, because I can't stand George Bush.

    Anyway. My two cents. I like your blog.


Thank you for your comment.