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The Berlin Wall: My Thoughts

The Berlin Wall was a part of my childhood. I think a picture of it appeared in the first “My Weekly Reader” that was passed out in 4th grade.

The Berlin Wall divided Berlin into free and Communist halves. That was the way it had been my whole life, and what child would anticipate a change in the natural order of things? It would have made as much sense to suggest that baseball would cease to be the national sport, or that phone numbers would no longer be dialed by sticking your fingers in the little round holes.


To be reminded of the 25th anniversary of the event that ended a structure so intrinsic to our world view seems not just surreal, but freakish. Did I stray outside the space-time continuum at some point? Twenty-five years?

Twenty-five years since PJ O’Rourke wrote that the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell becausethe people of East Germany got sick of wearing ugly shoes?  Well, he said something very like that. I have spent more than an hour trying to find the essay or the quote. Correct me if you have it.

(Lest you think O’Rourke was being flippant, that statement came after hundreds of words describing previous trips to the Eastern Block and the soul-sucking hopelessness he found there.If I could find the article I’d be more specific, or quote him at his wittiest.)

But the point is that the Berlin Wall was was a fact of life. Then it wasn’t. No war or bloody encounters; it just went away because enough people got sick of it, and too few people felt like defending its existence any longer.

Kids since learn about the Berlin Wall and the Cold War in history class. It is as meaningful to them as the Titanic or the Civil War.

But to me, the fact that we woke up one morning  to find it gone is the closest thing I can think of to an authentic miracle.

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