Steinmeier: Wall «Testimonial to a hopeless failure» | free press

Berlin (dpa) – 60 years after the construction of the Berlin Wall, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier commemorates the victims of decades of division and described the former stronghold as “a testimony to a hopeless failure”.

“The wall was the clear sign of an unjust state that was neither sovereign nor legitimate in the eyes of its own citizens. Actually the beginning of the end – which was still too long in coming,” Steinmeier said on Friday at the central commemoration in Berlin.

“August 13, 1961 was a fateful day for us Germans and for the world – and a day that destroyed dreams and hopes, separated children from parents, grandchildren from grandparents, and painfully and painfully intervened in the lives of countless individuals,” he continued. . . “When we commemorate the construction of the Wall today, we also commemorate the dead and wounded and those arrested – all those who risked their life for freedom.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) also drew attention to those who died in the Wall. “We also think of those who had to endure imprisonment, abuse and demotion after a failed escape attempt in prisons like Berlin-Hohenschönhausen,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. Coming to terms with the dictatorship in the GDR and commemorating the victims “is our job and duty for the future,” he emphasized. The federal government will continue to devote significant resources to this.

The Federal President also called on us not to look back. The memory of the wall and the separation is a permanent challenge. “Freedom and democracy are never given by nature and never achieved once and for all. Freedom and democracy must be fought for, but then also protected, defended and preserved.” It begins with participation in democratic elections, “Elections that have denied the wall and what it stood for so long. Think of everyone if there is one soon new Bundestag is elected.”

The Berlin Wall Lasted 28 Years

On August 13, 1961, the construction of the Berlin Wall, which sealed the division of Germany, began. The stronghold was about 155 kilometers long and enclosed the western part of Berlin. The wall ran for 45 kilometers through the city. Only after more than 28 years did the division end with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. In Berlin alone, according to scientific research, at least 140 people died as a result of the GDR border regime after the wall was built. According to the federal government, at least 260 people would be mourned at the inner German border.

“Nowhere else has the inhumane character of the SED dictatorship been more evident than on the wall,” Berlin Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) said at the memorial hour. “Until the 1980s, the GDR leadership perfected the border with Berlin into a structure of almost insurmountable monstrosity.” Nevertheless, many would have tried to overcome the wall, many would have paid for it with their lives.

“The fact that the reunification of Berlin was so miraculously successful at the border between East and West is a great victory over decades of division,” Müller said. But this is also a great triumph for those East Germans who bravely demonstrated in the streets for their freedom in 1989 and brought down the wall.

SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz also paid tribute to the GDR citizens’ achievements in overcoming the division of Germany. “That was caused by the citizens – they broke down the wall,” he said at a memorial meeting in Potsdam. FDP Secretary General Volker Wissing said the anniversary of the Wall’s construction was “both a warning and an obligation to work tirelessly for freedom”.

Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock said in Berlin that the anniversary is “always a warning of the struggle for freedom, for democracy and for human rights” and shows that even today walls cannot solve problems.

Photo campaign as a reminder

CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak told the German news agency: “The wall was cemented in human contempt. Even today it is the most visible symbol of the injustice of the SED dictatorship, of the regime of the old old men of the SED, of the rigged elections, of slavery, persecution and intimidation. And also for the economic misery of the planned economy.” The memory of this injustice must be kept alive and remain an integral part of the culture of remembrance.

Since Friday, posters in more than 300 locations in Berlin have commemorated the construction of the Berlin Wall. They showed well-known and lesser-known historical motifs, in which the importance of the construction of the wall in all its tragedy becomes clear, according to Kulturprojekte GmbH. It is about barbed wire, torn families, escape, protest, the army and the victims of the GDR border regime.

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