Two decades of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

sob

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On 9th Nov. 2009, the whole world will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary for the Fall of the Berlin Wall, which had divided Germany in two halfs and split the whole of Europe in two opposing military camps.

There will be major celebrations planned in Brlin to commomerate the historic event. As a precusor to the festivities three major leaders of that period, Michael (Peristroika ) Gobachev of the Soviet Republic, Sr. George Bush of USA and Helmu Kohl former Chancellor of Germany, gathered together for the start of the festivities.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Leaders recall Berlin Wall's fall
 

sob

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The Iron Wall Still remains for Animals

Nearly 2 decades have passed since the Iron curtain dividing Europe in two halves, was brought down. Human beings have forgotten about the artificial divide and have been crossing the former borders regularly.

But it seems for a group of animals in the forests on the border of Germany and Czech Republic, the memories of the Iron Wall and the fences are still fresh. Even today after the boundary wires have been removed the deers refuse to move from the German side to the Czech side. Radio trackers using GPS have shown that they move to the point where the fence used to exist 20 years ago, and then they come back. It seems that for the animals, the scars of the scores of their berthern killed at the fence, is still fresh.

Deep in the forest, a red deer remains Cold War's last prisoner

It has been 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell. But deep in the forest here, a red deer called Ahornia still refuses to cross the old Iron Curtain.
Ahornia inhabits the thickly wooded mountains along what once was the fortified border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia. At the height of the Cold War, a high electric fence, barbed wire and machine-gun-carrying guards cut off Eastern Europe from the Western world. The barriers severed the herds of deer on the two sides as well.

The fence is long gone, and the no-man's land where it stood now is part of Europe's biggest nature preserve. The once-deadly border area is alive with songbirds nesting in crumbling watchtowers, foxes hiding in weedy fortifications and animals not seen here for years, such as elk and lynx.

But one species is boycotting the reunified animal kingdom: red deer. Herds of them roam both sides of the old NATOWarsaw Pact border here but mysteriously turn around when they approach it. This although the deer alive today have no memory of the ominous fence.

Ahornia, a doe with a grayish-brown winter coat and a light patch around her tail, was born 18 years after the fence came down. Wildlife biologists who track her and other deer via electronic collars know that she has never ventured beyond the strip where the fence once stood.

That is now just a narrow footpath in the woods, today marking the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. On a misty October afternoon, the sound of a distant woodpecker was all that disturbed the mountaintop silence.

A small white sign in German said "State Border." Ahornia grazes on the Western side but stops when she nears the border, her world ending where the Free World once did.

"The wall in the head is still there," says Tom Synnatzschke, a German producer of nature films who has worked in area.

In the seven years since wildlife biologists began tracking the deer, only two, a German stag named Florian and a Czech stag incongruously called Izabel, have crossed the border to stay. Lately, some young males have begun to explore the pastures on the other side, but they always come back. Females don't set foot in the once-forbidden area.

"In the past, the deer didn't go to the Czech side because of the fence," says Marco Heurich, a wildlife biologist who runs the animal tracking project in the Bavarian Forest National Park in Germany. "Now the fence is gone but they still stop at the border."

http://epaper.livemint.com/ArticleImage.aspx?article=05_11_2009_019_003&mode=1
 

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German Reunification

When the wall fell nearly 20 years back the Govt. of the West Germany kickstarted an ambitious project to reintegrate the nation and today they can justifiably be proud of their achievement.

With the Berlin Wall Just a Memory, German Divisions Fade

The impending anniversary on Monday has prompted a powerful national conversation, not just about a moment two decades in the past, but about the Germany of today. It is a country that is peaceful, more united and less turbulent than many here or abroad expected and, given its troubled 20th century, than many thought it deserved to be. Especially among the young, there is the sense that the aspiration to transcend Germany’s dark history and simply become normal may finally be within reach.

The latest round of news media accounts on the tumultuous final hours of the wall have emphasized not some sense of historical inevitability driven by economics and geopolitics, but rather the capricious human side of the event. That is reflected in last week’s cover story in the magazine Der Spiegel, which meticulously reconstructed, hour by hour, the events of the day that built up to the wall’s unexpected opening, titled “The Error That Led to Unity.”

Bureaucratic confusion over new travel regulations led crowds of East Berliners to gather at border checkpoints on the night of Nov. 9, 1989, prompting guards to open the gates, bringing a sudden end to the division of the city with a night of spontaneous celebration and reunion.

In recent weeks polls have been released on the differences, and as often as not the similarities, between the former East and the former West in matters of love and real estate, table manners and car ownership. In ways both typically serious and atypically jocular, Germans seem to be groping for an understanding of what happened and what, along the way, they have become.

Beneath the trivial differences lies a country more together than anyone expected. That is not to say that there are not still some hard feelings, and particularly among those from the East, known officially as the German Democratic Republic. Despite great strides and an estimated $2 trillion in assistance since 1989, many there have not quite caught up to the West materially and saw their everyday way of life disappear along with the wall.
 

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Gorbachev 'proud' of role in fall of Berlin Wall

MOSCOW — Mikhail Gorbachev said Tuesday that he was proud of his role in the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, defending himself against Russian critics who accuse him of losing the Soviet empire.

"I am proud that we -- and by that I mean both Western and Eastern European countries -- found an approach that took everyone's interests into account, so this most painful thing was liquidated," Gorbachev said.

Gorbachev indicated that leaders had no choice other than ending the decades-long division of Germany into Communist East and NATO-aligned West.

"The issue is not shame, but the fact there was a split in a country in the centre of Europe, the centre of the world, with a huge population," he told reporters in Moscow.

Gorbachev, 78, is widely admired in the West but often criticised in Russia for policies that led to economic chaos and the dismantling of Moscow's sprawling empire.

His Western admirers have lauded his decision not to use force to stop the mounting resistance to Communist regimes in eastern Europe in the late 1980s, which culminated in the dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

The fall of the barrier, where many East Germans had been killed trying to flee to the West, paved the way for Germany's reunification in 1990.

"If the Soviet Union had wanted, it could have stopped reunification. And what would have happened then? I don't know. Maybe World War III," Gorbachev mused in a free-wheeling talk with a group of reporters.

He said that he had not regarded the fall of the Wall as a reason to panic, noting that he had been asleep when it was breached.

Gorbachev also criticised the behaviour of the United States, which he said had suffered from a "victor's complex" in the years after the Cold War, overextending its power throughout Europe and the world.

"The Americans should understand that their monopoly has ended," Gorbachev said earlier, speaking at the presentation of a book by US billionaire and former media mogul Ted Turner at his foundation in Moscow.

"But that America is going to be a leader for a long time, that it is going to be very influential -- this is a fact, whether you like it or not."

Gorbachev praised US President Barack Obama, who has sought to improve the United States' image and repair US-Russian relations that were damaged under his predecessor George W. Bush.

Comparing Obama's efforts with his own attempt to reform the Soviet Union in the 1980s -- which was called "perestroika", or "restructuring" -- Gorbachev said that Obama faced the harder task.

"I do not envy Obama, because I think changing and 'restructuring' America is not easier than changing the Soviet Union," Gorbachev said.

"I wish the Americans luck. I think the president's steps need the support of the American people," he added.

Gorbachev, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, also said he approved of Obama's unexpected Peace Prize victory last month, saying it could help push the United States towards greater multilateralism.

Gorbachev criticised "dividing lines" that he said had reappeared in the world and called on the United States, Russia and Europe to cooperate in creating a "fairer" world order.

"There should be no walls. Now, by the way, dividing lines are beginning to appear again. We need to live in peace in this house called Europe, with all its doors and windows," Gorbachev said.

"Only in cooperation with Russia and the United States can Europe play its role in the global process of creating a new world order," he said, adding this had been a dream of his "good acquaintance" the late pope John Paul II.
AFP: Gorbachev 'proud' of role in fall of Berlin Wall
 

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