How time flies! It’s 30 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall and 5 years since Border Crossings, my account of a long-term connection between a group of young Scots and young East Germans, came out on Kindle. Many of the hopes of those heady days of November 1989 have come to fruition, though not all. Intolerance and inequality are on the rise at an alarming rate. But there’s a growing resistance to that hatred and greed. Every new generation has to stand up against the evils of their own time – and understanding past struggles can be a pointer to what can be achieved. So to mark the achievements of those young Germans that I have known for so many years, I’m re-posting this piece about that Scottish-German friendship, a friendship that began in 1978 and has played such an important part of my life.
It’s 25 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall – 9th November 1989. A quarter of a century ago the seemingly impossible happened and that grotesque symbol of a brutal totalitarian regime was breached. Not through violence or bloodshed, but through the non-violent, patient, persistent refusal of the people of the GDR – East Germany – to tolerate any longer the brutal, unjust and economically inept rule of a decaying communist regime. It was a day not many had foreseen but what a day of rejoicing it was!
Sunday 9th November 2014 is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and I was delighted to be asked to take part in BBC Radio Scotland’s “Sunday Morning with Ricky Ross” programme to discuss that exciting time. It was an historic turning point for Europe – and the world – and I was privileged to have made many visits to East Germany both before and after those amazing days.
The courage, determination and hope of the people who lived through that brutal regime is remarkable. The endless shortages, the ban on travel to the West, the constant spying and fear of the dreaded Stasi (the secret police) made life extraordinarily hard. But in the end the regime fell and life changed for the people of the former East Germany.
My friends there live a very different life now and although the transitional period was not always easy, there was a whole new Europe for them and their children to explore, enjoy and contribute to. Political reform is rarely easy as those with power seldom wish to relinquish any of it! But events in what was East Germany – and the other countries in the former Soviet Bloc – show what can be done if people are determined, courageous and persistent enough!