Monitor: Comment in the American press on the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall

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The Independent Culture
Boston Globe

This marks the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event that exposed the moral and economic bankruptcy of communism once and for all. It would lead to the reunification of Germany, the end of Soviet rule over Eastern Europe, and the break-up of the Soviet Union itself within couple of years. By 1989, as John Le Carre prophetically wrote, the Soviet knight was already dead in his armor. Historians rank 1989 as a watershed year, along with 1945, 1918, 1789, and even 1648, when the treaty of Westphalia ended the Holy Roman Empire and ushered in the modern nation state. For 1989 ended not only the Cold War rivalry between East and West; it also ended the monstrous version of Marx and Engels that Lenin and Stalin had imposed on half of Europe and a great deal of Asia. Today there is a misplaced nostalgia growing in former communist countries for the certainties of tyranny. But the events of Nov 9, 1989, were a true example of a people refusing to be ruled the way they had been before, and taking freedom back with their own hands. What happened on those days and nights in the streets of Berlin 10 years ago will defy any attempts at revisionist history.

USA Today

The task of building democracies and capitalism on the rubble of communism has not been easy. The reconstruction is like a Kafka Metamorphosis, half normal, half gruesome. Not surprisingly, millions of people have become cynical about their hopes for an American-style good life. True democracy and true capitalism remain out of reach.

Delivering the promise of 9 November 1989 to those who haven't seen it remains a challenge. Some answers lie in sweeping out more of the old: the rubble of communist institutions, hard-line politicians and economic controls. That could take another decade or more. There's inspiration, though, in the knowledge that where there [were] once barbed wire, guards and attack dogs, central European capitals glisten in their restored, centuries-old beauty.

New York Post

The destruction of the Berlin Wall was the climax of an unbelievable and awe-inspiring campaign throughout Eastern Europe in which one communist regime after another was toppled by popular sentiment and mass demonstrations. What happened 10 years ago today was a testament to the ultimate triumph of freedom over the most despotic of political systems and a reminder that liberation from dictatorship is its own reward.

The New York Times

What began in 1961 as a crude expanse of cinder blocks and barbed wire became in time a 113-mile stretch of fortified concrete and steel, imprisoning West Berlin. It was both a physical and psychic barrier, for 28 years the most powerful symbol of the cold war, dividing not just Berlin and Germany and Europe but East from West. Then, 10 years ago, on the evening of 9 November, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, its collapse was a dramatic expression of the larger failure of a Soviet empire brought down by economic decay, the cynicism of its citizens and the historic decision of its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, not to use the force needed to hold it together. Germany itself illustrates the complexities of moving from one system to another. The German economy is a third larger than any other in Europe. But integrating two economic systems and two ideologies has not been a seamless process. Even now there is a still a nostalgia for the old days when everyone had a job, however meaningless.