Thirty years ago, this month, the people spoke and the Berlin Wall came down. Not many people even remember what the Berlin Wall was all about and more don’t care at this stage of the game. Real history is not a topic taught in our school systems these days.
I remember that day particularly well. My mother was actually in Germany at the time although she wasn’t in the vicinity of the historiic day. And when I heard the news, I was happy for many relatives who had spent the last thirty years behind the wall but sad for my mother as her mother lived in East Germany and died there behind the wall.
There were a lot of relatives from my grandfather’s side of the family residing in communism. When the allies divided up Germany, no one realized that Russia would take this step. Only one of family of my German relatives got out before they closed down all traffic in and out. The father of the family was a clever and hardworking man who knew Russia would never be satisifed watching people go in and out of ‘Russian’ terrority for long. At the early stages, Germans could get a pass to spend the day in the West visting relatives. My cousins did so taking with them their baby girl. At the checkpoint, initially, the Russian guards tried to take the baby for collateral to make sure the couple did return at the end of the day but, somehow, the couple assured them they would be back and walked through that checkpoint taking with them only their child, the baby carriage, and the clothing they were wearing and never looked back.
A young priest, who befriended my grandmother, was from West Germany and was in the newly-occupied Russian Zone on assignment. The wall went up and he woke up to being a ‘citizen’ and, basically a prisoner in a new situation.
My mother was there when the Americans pulled out of East Germany and watched the Russians come in. Being fluent in English, she had been called upon a lot by the American Army to help with translations and dealings with the Germans during their time there. When word came down that it was official that the Russians were coming in, my mother took to running down to the main square every morning to see what flag was flying. Her stomach dropped the morning she arrived to see the Americans taking down their flag and the Russian flag being hoisted up the flag pole. She walked slowly home.
However, several of the American soldiers she had been helping, contacted her and quietly said to pack a small bag and stand in the crowds watching the American troops pulling out at the train station. Her mother packed the bag and they stood side by side in the noisy crowds but had been warned to not do any goodbyes, just stand there. Minutes before the train pulled out, several American soldiers came up behind my mother and grandmother, circled my mother blocking her from view and the group marched into the train successfully hiding my mother.
Naturally, the American MP’s were carefully searching the train for people trying to leave on the troop trains. My mother’s soldier friends, put her into an oversized uniform, hat down over her face, and told her to be quiet. Sure enough, the MPs checked out the car and when they pointed to where my mother was shaking in her boots, the other soldiers indicated they needed to be quiet as the ‘soldier’ had done too much celebrating the night before and shouldn’t be bothered. My mother successfully made it to Bavaria and her uncle’s home but not without a lot more adventures.
Even though she wasn’t home in the States when the wall went down, I imagined that she was reliving what I just related and thanking God for the chances He gave her in life.
There is a difference between the Berlin Wall and the walls on our borders. The Berlin Wall was in place to prevent people from leaving. Our border walls are there for our protection yet we can cross back and forth without worry of being locked in against our will.