Leading article: They tore down that wall

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is 50 years ago today that Berliners awoke to find their city divided by a wall, which became higher, more forbidding and more murderous by the year.

Almost three decades on, with the system that conceived and built it terminally discredited, the concrete blocks and barbed wire were spontaneously torn to pieces by the citizens themselves in one of the most joyous nights of celebration and freedom Europe has known since the end of the Second World War.

The city has knitted itself together with impressive speed, but it still bears some of the physical traces, and the psychological dislocation will persist for as long as there are people alive to remember. That Berlin has become the flourishing creative and international metropolis it is today is a tribute to German industry and drive. But still walls divide, whether in Belfast, Nicosia or Jerusalem, perverting what a city should be. The reality of the Berlin Wall has gone; as the ultimate symbol of division – of a city, a country, a continent and a world – it will, and it should, live on.