Commemorating the Fall of Berlin Wall: a Tribute to Humanity

Commemorating the fall of Berlin Wall: a Tribute to Humanity

By Iqra Anugrah, APS3

In the middle of 20th century, world witnessed the end of the Second World War. This catastrophe of civilization, however, did not end at that point. The winners of the war, namely the Western bloc led by the US and the Communist bloc led by the USSR, started to dismantle the power of the loser, Germany. The West initially proposed liberal democracy and market economy as a model for the newly reconstructed Germany, something that the USSR rejected. As a consequence of this policy, the Soviet Union initiated the declaration of Soviet-style republic in the Eastern part of Germany, to challenge the existence of West Germany. The construction of the Berlin Wall later started in 1961, in order to prevent emigration from the East and Western influence in Soviet-occupied areas.

Twenty years ago, in 1989, no one would imagine how the Berlin Wall could fall. At that time, socialism was tried to be implemented in East Germany. In the so-called Democratic Republic, the state provided everything. East Germany guaranteed free healthcare for everyone, free education until university level and the participation level of women in politics. Those things looked like an earthly heaven, but what went wrong?

In this “People’s Republic”, people could not elect their own leaders. Some party bureaucrats from the undemocratic Socialist Unity Party, SED, claimed to represent them. They also could not travel freely to foreign countries, especially those countries which were labeled as “capitalist”.

In Leipzig, twenty years ago, people started to gather at the historical St. Nicholas’ Church. At that time, it was prohibited for East German citizens to gather for political activities. The only thing the East German authority did not know was that Church was the only place for people to voice their aspirations.  People came and as the time goes by, more and more people attended the service. Slowly but sure, the voice of struggle started to reach out.

When the authority heard the news, they were not happy about it at all. They tried to arreste some people. But the spirit never dies and the movement still kept on going. Every Monday, after the regular prayer, people gathered for the demonstrations. The Montagsdemo, Monday demonstration began with few people, until 70,000 out of 500,000 citizens of Leipzig came to the street, driven by their consciousness and made the demonstrations noted as one of the most peaceful revolutions in the world. People were holding candles, a symbol of resistance and non-violence. Facing fully-armed security forces, the demonstrators shouted the most powerful chant, Wir sind das Volk!-“We are the people”, a statement for people’s sovereignty. They challenged the legitimacy of the authoritarian GDR regime and asked for more openness and freedom in the country.

The demonstrations spread to many other places as well, including Berlin. Series of peaceful demonstrations finally led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 and the fall of East German socialist state, which later triggered the fall of communist bloc in Europe.

Twenty years later a lot of people gathered again at St. Nicholas’ Church, prepared for another demonstration. In the past, people united for fight against the authoritarian nature of the communist rule. Now they unite again, struggling against the injustice of social security cuts, market fundamentalism and war, as a tribute of humanity.

*Published at The APU Times, November 2009

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