The Remains of the Berlin Wall, now a tourist attraction.
SINCE 1789 pieces of the Bastille have been sought-after decorations on mantelpieces in France. Two centuries later, bits of the Berlin Wall have travelled all around the globe. It is “the only monument that exists on all continents,” except possibly Antarctica, says Axel Klausmeier, the boss of a Berlin foundation for its remembrance. That says a lot about what Germans call their “peaceful revolution”, which climaxed with the breaching of the wall on November 9th 1989. This weekend Germans will mark its 25th anniversary with a celebratory bash.
As the first successful liberal revolution in German history, 1989 ranks in importance with 1789, says Rainer Eppelmann, head of a foundation studying the East German dictatorship. Even better, unlike that French revolution 200 years earlier, the German one was non-violent. Because the Berlin Wall divided not just a city but also a country, a continent and the world, its fall implied a global promise of liberty. In geopolitics the “end of history” seemed possible, though it later gave way to a “clash of civilisations”, as duelling book titles put it in the 1990s….
From The Economist, November 8th, 2014