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Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: A realist perspective

The following article by Kosciuszko Chair researcher Pawel Styrna was published by the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: A realist perspective

During the twenty-fifth anniversary of the “fall” of the Berlin Wall, in Berlin, Mikhail Gorbachev ventured so far as to claim that “the world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some are even saying that it’s already begun.” Gorbachev no doubt understands that the West is reluctant to confront Russia and, therefore, resistant to recognizing the reality that the Chekists running the Kremlin did not see themselves as having “lost” the Cold War, but as merely having suffered a setback.

In the West, the “fall” of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 functions as a powerful symbol of the implosion of communism and the end of the Cold War; in Germany it is celebrated as the watershed initiating German reunification. The wall – which the East German communist propaganda apparatus called the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart” – was built by the Soviet puppet regime of the “German Democratic Republic” in 1961, primarily to halt the mass exodus of East Germans to the West. The wall was thus a reminder of the real nature of the communist bloc, which was essentially one giant Gulag – stretching from the heart of Europe all the way to the Sea of Japan – and that Marxist-Leninist regimes could not remain in power without terror, coercion, and intimidating border fortifications to prevent the slaves from “voting with their feet” and escaping from the “Socialist Paradise.”

The Berlin Wall also represented the Yalta betrayal and the subsequent division of Europe into two zones following the Second World War: a free Western Europe benefiting from the American protective umbrella, and a captive Central and Eastern Europe under the Soviet jackboot. The barrier cutting Berlin in half was a deep wound, and the scar has yet to heal completely.

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