Berlin Wall – then and now

Say what you want about print media, the New York Times come out with some freaking cool stuff on their website. Their current feature on the Berlin wall has some fantastically interactive pictures of Berlin from 1989 and today. Stop reading this and check that out, because it’s freaking cool.

The Brandenburg gate in 1989, and today
The Brandenburg gate in 1989, and today

The fall of the wall in Berlin seems to me to be one of those events that the West has a pure love for: mostly because (at least in the retelling) it is a triumph of “democracy, freedom and capitalism” over the tyranny of communism. It’s a story we can tell where we can unambiguously claim the moral high-ground. And make no mistake: this is a beautiful story: a triumph of the force of will of a people, to overthrow their oppressors. How nice it is to be sure that you’re the good guys in the story.

But I couldn’t let this opportunity go past, and while I have no ability to verify the accuracy of this story, that doesn’t change it’s worthiness. In my year 11 German class, we were studying a bit about the fall of the Berlin wall, and saw a great film: “Das Versprechen” (The Promise). In one scene they were showing the East German guards in their guard towers, while just the other side of the wall, West German propaganda was blaring from cars driving alongside. Through the loudspeaker came one of my all time favourite quotes:

“The Roman soldiers would wear red so that their enemies could never see their blood, and your soldiers wear brown pants”

Feel free to get someone to explain that to you if it doesn’t make sense at first pass.

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