The Fall of the Wall

Bloomberg reports on what happened after the wall fell in Germany.

“Today, on the 16th anniversary of the fall of the wall, not much is left standing. Finding the remnants requires patience and persistence — or the help of an expert like Gunar Jaekel, who organizes bicycle tours along the wall’s tracks.

“It’s the most important tourist attraction in Berlin, and yet there’s hardly anything left to see,” says Jaekel, 30. “It was idiotic to pull it all down.”

Streets were cut off in the middle, separating neighbors; even churches and graveyards were demolished. Over the years, the wall became more and more impenetrable.

That gradual erosion-by-chipping was too slow for the last, pre-reunification East German government, run by Lothar de Maiziere, which ordered the official demolition of the wall — a job that involved shifting 180,000 metric tons (198,416 tons) of concrete, 6,000 tons of scrap metal and 15,000 tons of asbestos. The grit became road metal for new streets and paths — many of them linking the east and the west.

“The perpetrators wanted to get rid of it,” he said in an interview at the museum at Checkpoint Charlie. “The victims also wanted to erase this reminder of their pain. I had to fight all these parties. My thinking was: If the wall is demolished, we’ll forget it. We must keep some of it.”