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Keeping the past alive

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Franz Strasser | 14:08 UK time, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I have now reached Sorge, which is a few metres away from the former inner-German border. I asked people there whether it's possible to embrace the past while moving forward in the 21st Century.

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Do you like the idea of keeping the fence alive? I look forward to your comments.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thank you, Herr Strasser for a fascinating and atmospheric piece.

    Yes, indeed the fence should stay to remind us of the extent of human folly.

    Best wishes

  • Comment number 2.

    Perhaps one should keep a watch tower and 100 metres of fence as a memorial. Anywhere else, tear the blessed thing down.

    The lingering prejudice on either side of Germany (and either side of Europe) is bad enough as it is, without the comfort of a fence to hide behind.

  • Comment number 3.

    The fence definitely needs to stay as a monument to remind future generations, and even the current one, of life behind the Iron Curtain.

    Franz, as an East German, how do you feel about preserving the wall? How did Sorge and her natural monument affect you?

    Paul Geerligs

  • Comment number 4.

    Fascinating journey/blog Franz.

    As a Brit who travelled a couple of time to the DDR in the early 1980's to visit a pen friend, I was not that aware of too many cultural differences between east and west Germany, “Germans are Germans” I would say to my UK friends who found my trips behind the Iron Curtain a bizarre way to spend good holiday time. However after the wall/fence came down I noticed that the differences were quite clearly defined by the 40 years of opposing political, economical and social systems. One of my Eastern friends was “released” to the west in 1984 and even his attitude to fellow “Ossies” in the 1990s was somewhat judgemental regarding their work ethic and need for reliance on the state.

    In Leipzig in 1980 I remember some friends of my pen friend gathering around me fascinated by the fact I came from England (West Germans were not so interesting!) They wanted me to play the alarm on my digital watch (“The Yellow Rose of Texas” if I remember rightly). In 1999 I returned to Leipzig to the very same pub and when the new locals were told I had come from near London they replied “so what?” Like you Franz that new generation had rushed to experience the more exotic locations of the world and England was no longer that desirable place in the minds of the free Ossies!

    The whole ere was an extraordinary period of German history as it was for Europe as a whole I suppose. But my own British generation (Born late 50s) seemed generally oblivious to the eastern bloc and it's sad divisions.

    The film the “The Lives of Others” will stand as a poignant testimony of life in the DDR for generations of Germans to come. And yes, leave a bit of the fence up. Like Hadrian's wall it will help the tourist industry and beg the question from those to come “was it to keep them in or the others out?”

  • Comment number 5.

    The wall has not gone it was just moved to Palestine.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have been fascinated by the history of the fall of Berlin Wall for many years now (as, an American, it's one of my earliest childhood memory of international news), particularly since my visit to the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin in 2002. I was personally changed and deeply emotionally moved as a human during that museum visit, and ever since have been trying to learn more and comprehend what it must have been like (or currently is like for the Palestinian people) to have such a tangible monument of ideological division and disrespect for human rights in one's own country and cities. This video blog really reminded me again that a wall in any country under any pretext is the ultimate abomination of human liberty.
    On a technical aspect, as a fellow recent graduate in journalism, I really appreciate what you're doing. Thank you SO much for using subtitles rather than dubbing, as it's much nicer to hear the emotions and emphasis in the actual person's voice. Also, the music you've been choosing for the intros and outros is outstanding. Just perfect for setting the right mood/tone. What piece did you use for this report?
    Thanks again for informing me and so many others in such a personal manner about such a complicated, intense topic.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks everybody for your honest opinion.

    @paulgeerligs: It still makes me feel very humble to see remaining
    pieces of the wall or the fence. The mayor complained that the sun
    wasn't shining that day and I told her that this weather was much more
    fitting to my mood.

    @eric_ga: It's Porcelain by Moby. Glad you liked it.

  • Comment number 8.

    enormous fascination clip - that gives me the creeps.

  • Comment number 9.


    ~Do you like the idea of keeping the fence alive?
    I honestly think that idea of keeping the fence alive is a good
    thing in reality; because many of the younger people do not have
    a picture of previous situation...

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 10.

    @FranzStrasser: It's not Moby, it's Teardrop by Massive Attack that's used on this clip.

    Agree that small sections of the wall/fence should remain as a testimony of mans inhumanity to man.

  • Comment number 11.

    My mom grew up in a border town on the western side. I see no reason to tear it down. Division doesn't need to be a bad thing. The many towns and regions of Germany have their own dialects and unique customs. This is a form of division and one that I personally like a lot. The fences of east/west are no different in this respect. They are symbols of events that affected the culture of these border towns in good and bad ways. The fence in my mind serves as a reminder to appreciate the freedoms that we now can all share that were once not possible in the east. So long as division doesn't lead to mass bitterness and hate it most likely is not bad.

  • Comment number 12.

    In case you want to further your understanding of the subject on population declines past-1989: Case in point - Bulgaria. More than 2 million! people have left the country since the fall of the Wall, in search of opportunities and mere survival, in a lot of cases; unlike GDR, we didn't have a sugar-daddy donate billions upon billions of DMs; instead we had corruption, crime, misery, decimation of the whole economy, especially agriculture, and of course the classic transfer of wealth issue: $40bn evaporated overnight; 95% of people decreased their standard of living from a somewhat decent lifestyle down to the edge of subsistence! how's that for a case study of the effects of the fall of the wall?!
    Further, the country is only now beginning to show some tenuous signs of life with the new government which seems to be moving away from past practices. Anyways, thanks Western Europe for nothing....

  • Comment number 13.

    HIstory should be remembered!Especially to the new generations!

  • Comment number 14.


    Yes, I think that the idea of keeping the fence alive is, a good idea...Since, it will welcome the next generation to the fight of the previous generations....

    ~Dennis Junior~


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