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The Dismantling Of The Berlin Wall

1325 words - 6 pages

1989 was a very important year for Europe and the world. Leading up to this time, many countries were involved in the Cold War, a time of military and political tension between western and eastern powers. People were glum, economies were weak, and political competition was at its peak. But this was the year the Berlin Wall was opened; this year ultimately led to the ending of the Cold War (Erlanger). On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall was ordered to be taken down. Within a year, West Germany and East Germany (formally known as the German Democratic Republic) became unified, and within two, the Cold War had completely ended (Schmemann). The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 triggered an extraordinary transformation of Europe. The event affected the lives of the citizens of the now unified Germany, led to the collapse of Communist rule, and brought rise to the question of political superiority in Europe and the United States.
Following the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the lives of those who moved from East to West Germany were dramatically altered, and over time, the division between the two sides has continued to fade. While the opening of the wall brought immediate happiness to those who crossed, this initial happiness began to fade as early as the following day (Smale). The realization of their true situation began to set in: while the possibility for a new, improved life was there, most East Germans were not emotionally or financially capable of this radical transformation they had wished for. Even today, many citizens who moved from the East to the West have not entirely caught up to the West materially. They left their everyday lives in East Germany in hopes to create better lives for themselves in the West, but the transformation has been a slow and difficult process. Unlike those there before them, they had to start their lives anew (Kulish). Furthermore, there is not much left for East Germans to remember their old lives by. Jana Hensel, a writer originally from Leipzig, an eastern German city, explains that “in the West they don’t have to remember because those things are still there...For East Germans, it is still painful to have to remember the things they have lost” (qtd. in Kulish). For these people, the transition was not only difficult because they had to rebuild their lives from scratch, but also emotionally taxing, for they had to learn to forget their past or try to remember it, despite the fact no physical remnants of their former lives remain (Kulish).
Although the lives of many formerly East Germans have continued to improve, it has taken years since the reunification for the division to really blur. For the generations who experienced this life-changing event, the move was a very hard transition, and one’s origin, “Wessis” or “Ossis” (colloquial and somewhat derogatory terms for West and East Germans, respectively), still greatly defines him or her. But for the newer generations born after 1989, the event is more a...

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