Remembering the Wall
The scars of the First World War remained fresh in the German conscience and were incubating angst in Hitler’s mind. Fuelled by the insatiable urge for supremacy, coupled with the rise of the Third Reich heralded the world that war is not over yet and worse things are only to follow. We’ve learnt a lot more about the World Wars since our school history classes though the politics behind the events those unfolded were discovered upon self learning.
This piece of writing is not about compiling the information and providing a brief outlook of this historically important event. It’s, instead, about remembering the event as it unfolded to me. I was six when the Berlin Wall fell; living in the remotest place from Germany, in India, down south. We had to rely on Doordharshan the only Indian television channel then. One of our favorite shows was ‘The World this week’ hosted by Prannoy Roy, now identified as the co-founder of New Delhi Television Network (NDTV). That was our window to the world. The show aired on Fridays at 9.30 in the night gave a glimpse of the world events, which otherwise we would’ve never known.
On one such Friday night the Mr. Roy gave us the story of the fall of the Berlin wall from the studios. Followed by his briefing on the event a video clip was shown, on which men, mostly youths, tools in hands were bringing the wall down amid roaring cheers. Moments after the wall feel, people from either side embraced each others with tear clogged eyes. The screen was filled with faces laughing and crying at the same time.
There seems a problem with the wall. So it was demolished. But why are people crying and laughing simultaneously? The question, though sprout from my mind had no answers. That was something beyond the comprehension of a 6 year old mind.
Years later when I experienced Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye Lenin (2003) the sensibilities of this historical events unfolded to me. This movie has wonderfully captured how a life changing historical event affects an ordinary citizen. An ill mother fights back her coma. The doctor advices her children to protect her from shock of any kind. Nothing is same out there as she recovers from Coma. The personal life of this poor mother is essayed in the movie before and after the fall of the Wall. In her memories, that have frozen with the day of her coma, the socio-cultural change out in Eastern Germany, now Germany would prove a fatal shock.
The entire film focuses on the desperations of her son and daughter, both youngsters, in recreating the Pre- East Germany Era before the fall of the wall. They take extreme care to make believe their fragile but loving mother, as if nothing has changed around her. Throughout the film, the near forgotten years old memory of the video footage of the reunion post the demolition kept blinking in my mind. After the movie I began to sense the emotional aspirations of those laughing tears that kept dripping from those eyes.
November 9th marked the 25 Anniversary of the Fall of Berlin Wall.