The political concept of a dividing line between oppression and freedom became physical, in the 20th Century, with the construction of the Berlin Wall (or Berliner Mauer in German). The symbolic manifestation of the end of oppression came about with the destruction (Die Zerstörung) of the wall.
Der Berliner Mauer had four major transformations during its history. The wall began as barbed wire fencing strung between concrete posts. Days later, the more permanent concrete block structure topped with barbed wire was begun. A third version of the wall came about in 1965. It consisted of a steel girder skeleton covered in concrete. The final version was made of 3.6 metre high by 1.2 metre thick concrete slabs. There was a smooth pipe across the top to deter climbers. The final version was under construction from 1975 until 1980.
The final version of the wall wasn’t just a simple wall. There was a 92 metre wide no mans’ land, an auxilliary inner wall, a raked ground cover that showed footprints, electric fencing, watchtowers, floodlights, bunkers, minefields, along with dog and soldier patrols.
The beginning of Die Zerstörung von der Berliner Mauer came about with regime change in the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev began two major policy shifts. Perestroika altered the economic system. Glasnost allowed public criticism of the political party system. In effect the centralized base of the USSR was broken up. Policies towards the satellite nations of Eastern Europe were liberalized. In 1988 and early 1989, new escape points from East Germany came about through the changes in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland.
In the autumn of 1989, under pressure from anti-government demonstrators in East Germany, the Politburo strongly advised that the Prime Minister of the GDR, German Democratic Republic, Erich Honecker step down. The members of the Politburo followed suit after the new Prime Minister, Hans Modrow, announce the policy of economic decentralization and liberalization of travel restrictions.
Suddenly, in the evening of November 9, 1989, the GDR government announced that permanent relocations could be done through all of the border checkpoints into West Germany via West Berlin. Shocked East Germans tentatively approached the border and discovered that guards had begun to allow passage.
Soon, the area around the wall was crowded with people from both sides. Some started to hammer and chip off pieces of the wall. Suddenly an impromptu celebration and party atmosphere erupted. The cheering, crying, singing, and hugging went on for hours.
The actual demolition of the wall began that night and lasted until July 1, 1990. But November 9, 1989 stands out in history as the time when the entire nation of Germany was reunited.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that free elections in the former GDR resumed on March 18, 1990.