Germany Marks 50 Years Since Construction of Berlin Wall

Madeleine Morgenstern
The Blaze

BERLIN (AP) — The Berlin Wall’s construction 50 years ago must be a constant reminder to citizens today to stand up for freedom and democracy, the city’s mayor said Saturday as a united Germany commemorated the bitter anniversary.

Seeing Berlin divided by the wall tore apart the country as well as separating the city’s streets, neighbors and families, mayor Klaus Wowereit said at a televised ceremony.

“It is our shared responsibility to keep the memory alive and to pass it on to the coming generations as a reminder to stand up for freedom and democracy to ensure that such injustice may never happen again,” Wowereit said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – who grew up behind the wall in Germany’s communist eastern part – also attended the commemoration in Berlin, where parts of the wall and an attached surveillance tower now form a museum.

The road where the museum is located was divided in two on August 13, 1961, and some 2,000 east German residents were expelled from their houses to allow the communist authorities to secure the new border.

The country was then divided for 28 years. Hundreds of east Germans were arrested while trying to flee to democratic Western Germany and at least 136 were killed trying to cross the wall.

German President Christian Wulff said the “life-asphyxiating wall“ must be a reminder to appreciate and preserve the ”openness of today’s world.”…

The article, with video, continues at The Blaze.

Photo essay, The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall:

Death at the wall A dying Peter Fechter is carried away by East German border guards who shot him when he tried to flee to the West on Aug. 17, 1962. Fechter jumped the barbed wire fence near Checkpoint Charlie and was wounded. He was left in 'no-man's land' for about 50 minutes before being taken to hospital where he died a short time later. Fechter’s death, in full view of the Western media, sparked negative publicity worldwide. According to the August 13 Association, which specializes in the history of the Berlin Wall, at least 938 people were killed by East German border guards as they attempted to flee to West Berlin or West Germany. The last person to be shot while trying to cross the border was Chris Gueffroy on Feb. 6, 1989.

click on the image to view at full size

Related: Czech anti-communist fighter Masin dies at 81

PRAGUE (AP) — Ctirad Masin, a controversial anti-communist fighter in the former nation of Czechoslovakia who eluded a massive East Bloc manhunt during the Cold War, has died at age 81.

Czech public radio and television said Masin died Saturday of an undisclosed illness in a war veteran’s residence in Cleveland, Ohio.

Masin, his brother Josef and Milan Paumer were part of a resistance cell after the communists took power in 1948 in the Central European nation of Czechoslovakia. They killed two policemen while trying to capture arms in a police station, and also killed a cashier during a robbery to raise funds for their sabotage operations.

In 1953, they fled to the West, killing three police officers in East Germany during their epic escape as tens of thousands of police searched for them. Two other members of the cell were captured, sentenced to death and executed.

The three later settled in the United States and served in the U.S. army. Paumer returned home following the fall of communism and died last year here. But the Masin brothers refused to come home because they claimed the country still has not fully rid itself of its communist past…


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