9 Nov 2009

Berlin & Me: 20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago today the Berlin Wall fell. I was 11. At school, they wheeled a TV in our classroom and we were given a break from the usual studies as our teachers insisted, "This is a moment in history. We don't want you to miss it." I did my best to focus and record it all mentally, but I now just have bits and pieces of my impression of everything.

My main impression is that I was too much of an idiot to grasp what was happening. We had only just begun to learn about World War II and my understanding of the war was flawed and overly simplified: Germans were Nazis and Nazis were the most evil humans that ever lived. Somewhere along the way, I misunderstood the West and East German divide and thought that West Germany was filled with "good" Germans like Anne Frank's dad and East Germany was a prison-like country for old Nazis and "bad" Germans. I had somehow gotten it in my head that the USSR had agreed to be the guards of the East German prison.

It was the images of the East Germans dancing on the wall, particularly what they were wearing - jean jackets, high-top sneakers, t-shirts - that made me realize for the first time that modern Germans probably weren't Nazis. Odd how seeing people in clothes like yours can shift your impression.

The other big memory I have of the Berlin Wall falling was that shortly after the unification of Germany, there was a Who's the Boss episode in which Mona was chastising Angela for not sharing her romantic feelings with Tony. Mona, exasperated, finally says "Angela! Let Tony know you love him! It's been years! Communism has fallen!"

Weird.

1 comments:

Foxy Renard 5:48 pm, November 17, 2009  

My main memory of it was that it happened on my twelfth birthday - a highly important birthday for a kid, you know! I think this fact contributes to a chunk of my famed obsession with Berlin and the Germans.

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