by John Steinberger | November 9, 2019 8:27 am
November 9, 1989 is a date free people all over the world should celebrate. In the middle of the night on that. date, thousands of East Germans with pick axes and sledge hammers toppled the barrier that kept them trapped behind the “Iron Curtain” for decades. It marked the beginning of the end of Communist control over Eastern Europe.
Yet news coverage on the 30th anniversary of that monumental event is sparse. My daily newspaper, The (Charleston, SC) Post and Courier, didn’t even mention the event in its “Today In History” section. I watched an hour of the Fox and Friends morning news show, and the anniversary was overlooked. Fake News CNN covered the anniversary in a negative context, stating that it propelled Eastern Europe into economic turmoil.
In the aftermath of World War II, Germany was divided into four sectors control by the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The capital city of Berlin, which was inside the Soviet sector was also divided among the four countries. In 1949, the Soviet sector became known as the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the sectors controlled by the Western countries combined to form the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
In the succeeding decade, millions of East Germans fled to the west. To stop the exodus, the Soviet Union erected the Berlin Wall in 1961, which was surrounded by armed soldiers on guard towers. Anyone attempting to scale the wall was shot. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed a crowd in West Berlin and rebuked Communism. He said, “We don’t need a wall to keep our people in!”
Subsequent Presidents just accepted Communist rule in Eastern Europe. President Ronald Reagan campaigned against incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980 on the platform of defeating the Soviet Union and relegating Communism to “the ash heap of history.” In 1987, during his second term, Reagan visited West Berlin and compared the freedom and prosperity in the west to the failure and poverty behind the Iron Curtain, which included the Eastern European countries controlled by the Soviets. Pointing to the wall, Reagan challenged Soviet Premier Mikail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” The thousands of Germans in attendance cheered and waved American flags.
After Reagan’s stirring speech, protests began popping up in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and other Iron Curtain countries. The 1989 uprising in East Berlin started spontaneously when the East German government announced the easing of travel restrictions to other countries. The event led to a domino effect, and countries throughout the Iron Curtain became liberated from the Soviet Union. In 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed and was divided into Russia and many other countries, including Ukraine, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan. A statue of Regan sits in the middle of Budapest, Hungary’s city square today, crediting him for the country’s liberation.
When learning about the stunning event in East Berlin, President George H.W. Bush was somber. America did not celebrate. Key anniversary dates were overlooked by the media and succeeding American Presidents. The Trump Administration unveiled a statue of Reagan at the American Embassy in Berlin on Friday.
As free people, we should all celebrate the events of November 9, 1989 and the collapse of Communism in Europe. We need to educate our people about the cruelty and misery caused by Communism in Europe and the effect it continues to have on the people of China, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. Let freedom ring throughout the world!
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