Germany is recalling that sixty years ago the communist half of the divided country started to build the Berlin Wall, which would stand as a symbol of oppression and division, until the reunification of the country in late 1989.
Brandenburg Gate Closed, was headline in West German media in the early hours of August 13, 1961 to announce the beginning of the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the fencing off of Paradise for Germans.
East Germany's army with construction crews from the communist German Democratic Republic, or GDR, were deployed to cut off all access routes to West Berlin, initially in most locations with barbed wire.
Erich Honecker, later to become East Germany's leader, was at the head of Operation Secure the Border. The aim: to literally cement the division of Berlin. That was quickly followed by construction of a steel and concrete perimeter wall with a forbidding height of just short of 3.5 meters that surrounded the whole of West Berlin.
The aim was to prevent any more people from fleeing the GDR. At least 2.6 million people had already done so since its founding in 1949. They sought freedom and better lives across the border in West Germany, which was officially known as the Federal Republic of Germany.
The mass exodus from East Germany had pushed the country close to collapse. There were not enough doctors, not enough skilled workers. So, to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, GDR leaders concluded that there was just one solution: the Berlin Wall.
However, according to East German propaganda, the Wall was not designed to keep people in; rather, to keep people out: We can only continue to live in peace if we put a stop to the activities of West German revanchists.
Such aggressive rhetoric was typical of a time when the communist Soviet Union and capitalist America were caught up in a bitter rivalry to show the world which of the two superpowers could offer the best blueprint for a political system and society.
The GDR sided with the Soviets, while the FRG was firmly allied to the US. It was the time of the Cold War, and it ended with the fall of the Berlin War, 28 years later in 1989.
Following the Second World War, Berlin was carved up and handed over to the victorious powers in the form of four sectors. The Soviets controlled the east of the city while the west was shared mainly by the US, plus British, and French sectors. However each attempt by the Soviets to bring the whole of the city into their sphere of influence was thwarted by the resistance of the western allies.
But the anti-fascist protection rampart, as the 155-kilometer barrier was officially defined in the GDR remained erect and solid.
History has recorded that at least 140 men, women and children lost their lives trying to escape from paradise. A 200 meters section of the original wall has been preserved to the memory of those who tried to escape at the Berlin War Memorial on Bernausser Strasse.
However it was not until then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorvachov and US president George Bush agreed on the reunification process, --despite objections from the British and French who feared an even stronger annexed Germany leading Europe--, that word of the talks filtrated and the people of Berlin from both sides rushed to pull down the ignominious gate to Paradise. It was November 1989, the symbol crumbled and a year later, October 1990 Germany was officially reunited.
For the Latin American cabbalist numerologists it must also be mentioned that on 13 August, but of 1926, Fidel Alexander (dictator) Castro was born.