Posted by: Jennifer | August 13, 2011

fifty years

There’s one thing that I find European countries do better than North American nations: they make a point of remember the bad along with the good. The goal is to ensure that it never leaves the consciousness of the citizens, in the hopes that it never happens again.

Berlin on Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall started to go up with a memorial service and a minute of silence in memory of those who died trying to flee to the West.

German President Christian Wulff, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in the East, and Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit attended a nationally televised commemoration followed by a ecumenical church service at a chapel built where the Wall stood for 28 years.

Flags flew at half mast on the Reichstag (parliament) and church bells tolled at noon as Germans were called to observe a minute of silence in remembrance of the 136 people who are known to have died in Berlin between 1961 and 1989 while trying to cross the Wall.

Overall figures of those killed while attempting to flee from East to West Germany stand at between 600 and 700.

[…]”The Wall was part of a dictatorial system, an unjust state,” Wowereit said for his part.

“It illustrated the bankrupcy of a system people wanted out of.

“The Wall is now history, but it must not be forgotten.

“It is our responsibility to keep its memory alive and pass it on to future generations . . . so that such injustices never repeat themselves,” he added.

Yeah, the Mayor said it much more eloquently than I ever could, and he’s completely right. It may not be popular thinking and it may be considered horrible or racist or sexist or otherwise discriminatory, but we can never remove the events that we don’t like from our history. All mistakes are learning experiences and if you don’t learn then you will keep making the same mistake over and over again.

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