November 10, 2008

On Anniversary of Berlin Wall’s Fall, Expat Pub Ignores Causes, and What Led to Its Original Construction

Expatica is an overseas publication for US expatriates in Europe with six country-customized editions. It betrays many of the biases that permeate mainstream US journalism. What follows is a prime example of that.

The publication’s Germany version today has an article celebrating the 19th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that makes it appear as if it, well, y’know, sorta just serendipitously happened because a bunch of people protested for a while.

Here are the key paragraphs (bolds are mine):

‘A wonderful gift’

Germans recall end of Berlin Wall 19 years ago as ‘wonderful gift’ in commemoration ceremonies.

Berlin — Germany marked the sudden end of the Berlin Wall 19 years ago, with the former mayor of West Berlin, Walter Momper, recalling it as a “wonderful gift.”

….. After weeks of protests, East German authorities suddenly announced on Nov. 9, 1989, that their citizens could pass through the wall and visit the West at will.

In the months following, the wall was demolished and East Germany merged into West Germany.

….. At a ceremony in the Bernauer Strasse Memorial next to remains of the wall, Momper said, “This day was a wonderful gift to Germans.”

“From unification, we learned to walk tall, which we had often not been able to do before,” he added. “The division of Germany dissolved with amazing orderliness and the East German system just collapsed.”

Gee, the wall just had a “sudden end.” As if by magic, it “just collapsed.” Isn’t tha something?

There’s no mention of Ronald Reagan, his eight years of military build-up, his steadfast resolve, or of the Soviet Union’s and East German governments’ failure to use force — as the Soviet Union did in 1956 against Hungary and 1968 against Czechoslovakia. There’s total silence about the 44 years East Germans lived under the Soviet axis.

Nor, for that matter, is there mention of the fact that the wall was built in 1961 partially in response to a calculation by Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev that new president John F. Kennedy was weak and lacking in resolve. On May 22 of this year, this was even acknowledged in, of all places, the New York Times, where Nathan Thrall and Jesse James Wilkins wrote that:

Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy, a World War II veteran, told James Reston of The New York Times that the summit meeting had been the “roughest thing in my life.” Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.

The Expatica item is of a piece with leftist dogma that the Soviet Union and its satellite system “just collapsed.” The exit question is obvious: “How is that ‘they’ll just collapse’ scenario working out in Cuba and North Korea?”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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