Saturday, November 07, 2009

"Ich bin ein Berliner," again

NBC stalwart Tom Brokaw marched into the Newseum this week to a sold-out forum with PBS legend Robert MacNeil commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.  “It was as though the people of Venus had come to Mars,” Brokaw said, remembering the joyous demolition that pulverized the Cold War era and spawned a flowering of democracy across eastern Europe.

The first time Brokaw saw the structure, he was "struck by its sinister quality." Being confined by The Wall (on the East, at least) was “worse than being at Alcatraz,” he said.

MacNeil said Germans were shocked when The Wall was built right through their towns. “People before had worked on either side, they had relatives on the other side."

"There were two men," he said, "who lived on either side of The Wall, one was a tailor and the other a bureaucrat, and they had never met. But every morning, for many years, as they went off to work, they waved at each other. And when The Wall came down, they held each other in a warm embrace.”

Who says Germans are stiff?

When Newseum VP and moderator-in-chief Susan Bennett finally called the discussion to an end the audience sighed with regret, hoping for a few more minutes of the journalists' memories.  Brokaw offered: “Today, eastern Germany is still an open wound. It is not doing well economically, and not surviving. Many people there believe that communism would be better. And West Germany thinks the Eastern half is a drain on the German economy.”


Posted by HOP contributor Beth Koralia
Photo credit: Jeff Malet