Memories of the Berlin Wall

Journalists recall covering Germany’s “9/11” — 20 years ago — when
the Cold War that had seized the world for some two generations
symbolically began to melt.

Two decades ago this month Greg
Locke, contributing editor of visual journalism for J-Source,
documented the fall of the Berlin Wall. A gallery of some his photos is on his Straylight site.

The Globe and Mail features reporters Jim Sheppard, Paul Koring and John Gray telling Doug Saunders about being there. CBC’s Stephanie Jenzer shared her thoughts, comparing covering the Berlin Wall and her current assignment covering today’s Israel/West Bank separation barrier. The New York Times has a marvelous essay
by Alison Smale, now of the International Herald Tribune, about passing
through East Germany’s Checkpoint Charlie with the first East German
woman to get through.

Smale reflects on why the landmark
anniversary is not considered a big deal in America — perhaps that
encompasses North America.

“Perhaps it is because of everything
that has followed that 9/11 — the colossal expenditure of blood and
treasure in Afghanistan and Iraq, the other terrorist attacks on Madrid
and London, the vain search for Middle East peace, the prospect of a
nuclear Iran whose own popular revolt was crushed this year, the
digital revolution, the market crash and the ongoing crisis eating the
economy and the environment — that the United States seems little
inclined to mark with fanfare the 20th anniversary of the fall of the
wall,” writes Smale. “Or perhaps it is because Americans, unlike
Europeans, do not dwell much on the past. Tomorrow is always another
day, and yesterday’s lessons fade.”

Or perhaps all of North America needs more real and less bread-and-circuses journalism to report on what is important.

For background, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall is documented by the CBC archives.