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Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall

 
The Grey Knight
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11/09/2009 01:08 PM
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Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Mikhail Gorbachev played a great role in closing the eyes for the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.
Link: [link to www.google.com]
Text: Mikhail Gorbachev said Tuesday that he was proud of his role in the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, defending himself against Russian critics who accuse him of losing the Soviet empire.

"I am proud that we -- and by that I mean both Western and Eastern European countries -- found an approach that took everyone's interests into account, so this most painful thing was liquidated," Gorbachev said.

Gorbachev indicated that leaders had no choice other than ending the decades-long division of Germany into Communist East and NATO-aligned West.

"The issue is not shame, but the fact there was a split in a country in the centre of Europe, the centre of the world, with a huge population," he told reporters in Moscow.

Gorbachev, 78, is widely admired in the West but often criticised in Russia for policies that led to economic chaos and the dismantling of Moscow's sprawling empire.

His Western admirers have lauded his decision not to use force to stop the mounting resistance to Communist regimes in eastern Europe in the late 1980s, which culminated in the dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

The fall of the barrier, where many East Germans had been killed trying to flee to the West, paved the way for Germany's reunification in 1990.

"If the Soviet Union had wanted, it could have stopped reunification. And what would have happened then? I don't know. Maybe World War III," Gorbachev mused in a free-wheeling talk with a group of reporters.

He said that he had not regarded the fall of the Wall as a reason to panic, noting that he had been asleep when it was breached.

Gorbachev also criticised the behaviour of the United States, which he said had suffered from a "victor's complex" in the years after the Cold War, overextending its power throughout Europe and the world.

"The Americans should understand that their monopoly has ended," Gorbachev said earlier, speaking at the presentation of a book by US billionaire and former media mogul Ted Turner at his foundation in Moscow.

"But that America is going to be a leader for a long time, that it is going to be very influential -- this is a fact, whether you like it or not."

Gorbachev praised US President Barack Obama, who has sought to improve the United States' image and repair US-Russian relations that were damaged under his predecessor George W. Bush.

Comparing Obama's efforts with his own attempt to reform the Soviet Union in the 1980s -- which was called "perestroika", or "restructuring" -- Gorbachev said that Obama faced the harder task.

"I do not envy Obama, because I think changing and 'restructuring' America is not easier than changing the Soviet Union," Gorbachev said.

"I wish the Americans luck. I think the president's steps need the support of the American people," he added.

Gorbachev, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, also said he approved of Obama's unexpected Peace Prize victory last month, saying it could help push the United States towards greater multilateralism.

Gorbachev criticised "dividing lines" that he said had reappeared in the world and called on the United States, Russia and Europe to cooperate in creating a "fairer" world order.

"There should be no walls. Now, by the way, dividing lines are beginning to appear again. We need to live in peace in this house called Europe, with all its doors and windows," Gorbachev said.

"Only in cooperation with Russia and the United States can Europe play its role in the global process of creating a new world order," he said, adding this had been a dream of his "good acquaintance" the late pope John Paul II.
Do you believe that the events from '89 have changed in good your life?
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 01:08 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
I thought the world would be great after that. For a while it was.
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:12 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
I thought the world would be great after that. For a while it was.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 769657

Agree with you. I was excited, too, about great times ahead. After some years, I was sad, I realized that many politicians have lied us. God, if I were 20 years in the past, again!
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 01:13 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
classic, 24 carat gold, sheeplebah
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:13 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
classic, 24 carat gold, sheeplebah
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 814230

hf
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:17 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Link: [link to worldblog.msnbc.msn.com]
Text:
BEIJING – Twenty years after the toppling of the Berlin Wall, another "wall" is facing intense public scrutiny in China.

The so-called Great Firewall of China, the online filtering and surveillance program run by the communist government’s Ministry of Public Security, is alive and well and censoring freedom of expression for millions of Chinese.

But over the past few months, Chinese discontent with the Great Firewall has bubbled over with increasing frequency and fervor.

Image:
SLIDESHOW: Celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall
Chinese netizen's ire was recently sparked by the Green Dam censoring software that was proposed last summer and the blocking of popular social media pages like Facebook and Twitter during the Uighur riots in Xinjiang in July.

The censorship during the Uighur riots caused such consternation online, it sparked one bitter Chinese Twitter user to mournfully tweet that day, "Today, two ‘140s’ were killed in China – 140 people in Xinjiang and 140 character micro-blogging service Twitter."

It is perhaps fitting then that the Great Firewall should find its opposition in another online medium: Twitter.

The Berlin Twitter wall
The most recent incident occurred late in October when organizers for the Culture Project Berlin, a non-profit organization in Germany that promotes art and culture, created an online "Berlin Twitter Wall" where German tweeters were encouraged to share their memories of the tumultuous times surrounding the fall of wall 20 years ago.

However, when organizers also asked tweeters to write about, "which walls still have to come down to make our world a better place," the global response was sudden and overwhelming.

The site was soon flooded by over a thousand comments from China complaining about the infamous Great Firewall. Chinese netizens, who circumvented the government’s usual blocking of Twitter by using proxy servers, had suddenly transformed the online memorial site into a protest against 21st century forms of censorship.

Chinese censors were relatively slow to respond to the swift outpouring of anger, taking a couple days before finally blocking the website hosting the Berlin Twitter Wall. By then though, the damage had been done. Prior to the blocking, Carsten Hein, a director of the project estimated around 1,500 of the around 3,300 comments posted on the page were in Chinese.

Showing the resourcefulness and the doggedness of China’s netizens, even after the site was blocked, posters in China were still visiting the website and leaving messages on the Twitter wall.

One user wrote, "Mr. Hu Jintao, Tear Down the Great Firewall!" putting a twist on President Ronald Reagan’s famous words to his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 imploring him to "Tear down this wall!"

Another poster, appealed to President Barack Obama to take action during his visit to China later this month writing: "Mr. Obama please ask Mr. Hu to tear down the GFW, insure Chinese people use Internet free."

Shifting plates of change
The outpouring on the Berlin Twitter Wall are representative of how over the past 20 years, the Internet has not only unequivocally changed how the world communicates, but how it perceives freedom of expression.

For China though, perhaps the more interesting storyline is the quiet, but increasingly frequent clashes that occur between two large, disparate groups that make up of China’s social, economic and political bedrock: China’s youth and its government.

In the 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, China internalized the shocking collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and its own scary brush with democracy with the Tiananmen Square protests the same year.

In the past two decades, economic prosperity and the incremental opening of personal freedoms has silenced the calls for greater democratization that was at the center of the 1989 student movement in China. Today’s Chinese youths have largely shifted their focus on improving their social and financial condition and are mostly passive about expressing any misgivings they may have with government restrictions on individual freedom.

To that point, China’s public security minister, Meng Jianzhu, recently held a press conference calling for even greater security over the country’s Internet network.

The idea of even tighter control seems shocking when one considers that Internet access in the vast Xinjiang region was effectively cut off for months after the Uighur riots this past summer.

Still, things like the Berlin Twitter Wall and the outrage over the proposed Green Dam censoring program show that when China’s censorship mechanisms impinge on the freedoms now expected by China’s youth, the two societal plates push against each other and with increasing frequency, the government is being pushed back slightly. (Examples here and here).

It is likely that today will be just another day here in China and one shouldn’t expect mass demonstrations calling for the toppling of China’s Great Firewall anytime soon.

But, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the spirit of those heady days still resonates here and burns bright deep behind China’s other Great Wall.
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:21 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
The people from Europe don't have the right to forget the price they have paid fro their freedom. Unfortunately, EU was a great delusion, it's worse than former USSR. In days like these, we must remember that we have fought for decades for freedom. A Knight from Old Europe.
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:26 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Link: [link to www.freep.com]
Excerpt:
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a sharp generational schism has formed in how people in Europe's former communist countries view the shift to democracy and capitalism, a survey has found.

People in nine eastern European countries polled who were born shortly before or after the Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago Monday were markedly more approving of the move to a multiparty political system and a market economy than older generations.

The survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project mirrored one carried out in 1991. The new poll showed an overall slip in approval of democracy and capitalism among most countries surveyed. Despite the slip, many more people surveyed expressed satisfaction with their lives than in 1991. In Poland, for instance, 44% said they were satisfied this year, compared with 12% in 1991. In other countries, the change was less marked. In Bulgaria and Hungary, 15% of people polled this year said they were satisfied, compared with 4% and 8%, respectively, in 1991.

Paradoxically, a majority of respondents in many countries that reflected this boost in satisfaction also said that people were worse off than under communism. In Ukraine, 62% of those polled judged their people worse off. In Russia, 45% said people were worse off, versus 33% who said they were better. Only in the Czech Republic and Poland did a majority of respondents say the people were better off since the transition from communism.

The new survey was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 24 among 14,760 respondents in 14 countries. The margin of the polls conducted in local languages varied between plus or minus 3.5 and 5 percentage points.
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:31 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Link: [link to www.csmonitor.com]
Text:
prague, czech republic; AND partizÁnske, slovakia - In the airy lobby of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, George Santayana's immortal words are a daily reminder to Czech staffers digitizing millions of Communist-era files: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Yet even the institute's spokesman says his grandparents criticize the organization's mission. They brush aside four decades of neighbors and co-workers spying on one another in the former Czechoslovakia and long wistfully for a time of full employment.

"My grandmother says the Com­munists were great, while my grandfather says we're stupid to open the archives, because people don't have jobs, which is more important than ... history," says Jiri Reichl.

On the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germans and others across the world are celebrating the moment that clinched the end of the cold war. But the Czech Republic reflects another trend across Eastern Europe, 20 years into the traumatic shift from dictatorship to democracy: creeping nostalgia.

Cold Wars end brought harsh competition

Each positive development of "democracy" ushered in negative consequences: Free-market competition brought soaring prices and joblessness; free elections brought extremist parties; free press brought incitement; free movement brought cross-border crime and westward "brain drain."

This nostalgia is born of deep disillusionment with the present, says Libuse Valentova, a Czech professor.

"People here admired the freedom and prosperity of the Western world," says Ms. Valentova, who tears up when recalling her time in the streets during the 1968 anti-Soviet revolt. "Now what they see is materialism, corruption, inflation, lawlessness – and they can't find spiritual or material prosperity."

Generations reared during Com­mun­ism typically yearn for the days of free healthcare and education, of more affordable goods and services. But they forget the years of deprivation, poor-quality goods and services – and the climate of fear and severe censorship. Most frustrating to them is the divide between those who could and couldn't adapt.

Take the city of Partizánske, in neighboring Slovakia. The vast Bata shoe factory, at its zenith, employed 10,000 workers, produced 30 million pairs of shoes, and saw factory officials and ruling Communists control every facet of work and social life.

"Here was 'Strong Bata' and 'Strong Socialism,' " says Partizánske's mayor, Jan Podmanicky. "Families didn't have to struggle for anything, because the boss provided all their needs."

'When there's no work, no money, there's no happy life'

That was just fine by Julius Mich­nik, who arrived here in 1943 as a 15-year-old apprentice. He attended mandatory morning exercise in the town square, then donned his uniform and headed to the factory.

"If you worked hard, you made enough money; even enough to save some," says Mr. Michnik, now president of the company's alumni association.

In time, he joined the party. "I was a Communist," says Mich­nik, who later had 1,500 workers under him. "To be a director, you had to be.… But I'm not ashamed. I never did anything bad to anybody."

When the regime crumbled in 1989, so did the firm. Asian competitors meant that only a sliver of the workforce remains.

"This is the hardest thing to learn about the new system: Things rise, things vanish," says the mayor. "How do you teach people to be independent and take responsibility for themselves? People from the outside can give you advice, but you have to change yourself."

Laid-off workers remind Michnik of what was lost. "Work, it's the most important thing," he says. "I see all the unemployed here, spending their last cents in the bar around the corner. When there's no work, no money, there's no happy life."

Unemployment: 14 percent

Back on the Czech side, Jan Klan is from the youth wing of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the third-largest parliamentary party.

Just 26, Mr. Klan is a Communist candidate for parliamentary elections next year. His grandfather was a Communist, as was his mother, the local party official in their Bohemian village of Záborí nad Labem.

When the system disintegrated, some neighbors turned on her. "They blamed her for what the Communists did," says her son.

Whereas the Communist era boasted "full employment," joblessness here is now 14 percent. Drawn to Communist solutions, Klan joined the party in 2003.

In the old days, too, the party ordered Záborí nad Labem residents to regularly clean up their village. They resented it, but the village stayed tidy. Today, no one is required to pick up litter or tend to vegetation – and residents decry the slovenliness.

If elected, Klan says he would offer residents an economic incentive to clean up. But what if he has no budget, or if they simply refuse? Would Communists revert to their brutal methods of the past?

"We would want to change the mentality, that they should do it for the good of the village," he says. "I know there were some mistakes in the past that we would want to avoid. It would be against human rights to force someone to do something."

Mr. Reichl, of the Prague Institute, says such whitewashing – simply noting "mistakes" – drives his colleagues to not only expose the regime's secrets, but "do PR for history," to puncture nostalgia with public events, exhibits, and classroom education. "We don't want the younger generations to forget," he says. "We want them to think about the history of their own family and friends, and what actually happened during this period."
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The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:33 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Pictures from Berlin:
Link: [link to www.guardian.co.uk]
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:43 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
We don't appreciate the liberty we conquered 20 years ago. We don't care anymore. What a difference between the idealists people from '89 and the nowadays politicians! We give the freedom for so called "prosperity and security": Lisbon Treaty.
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 01:44 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
More pics:
The Day the Berlin Wall Fell
[link to www.spiegel.de]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/09/2009 01:46 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
More pics:
The Day the Berlin Wall Fell
[link to www.spiegel.de]
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 813641

Great post, remembers me from Germany, I lived there for two years.
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 01:50 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Wearing nothing but a coat over his pajamas, the man spoke rapidly in his thick Berlin accent: "We live on Bornholmer Street, in the East, you know. I was in bed already. My wife had gone out to walk the dog, came back up and said, 'Hey, they're all going to the West!' I was dressed and out here in a flash."

Another man, driving an East German Trabant car, rolled down his window and excitedly said: "I keep shaking my head. I'm driving on the Kurfürstendamm!" referring to West Berlin's main shopping boulevard.



A woman standing outside the Kaiser William Memorial Church, West Berlin's famous bomb-scarred landmark, stammered: "That's always been my dream, to walk around this monument."

As they watched their East German guests gush with excitement, West Berliners were just as stunned. Many could hardly believe what they were seeing.

It was November 9, the night the Berlin Wall fell.


quoted from here:
[link to www.spiegel.de]
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 02:13 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
The 9th of November is a date of fate in German history:

November 9 is also the 71st anniversary of Reichskristallnacht, a nationwide Nazi pogrom against Jews in 1938. Two other historical events fell on that date in 1918 and 1923 respectively -- the German Revolution that removed the monarchy, and a failed coup attempt by Adolf Hitler in 1923 known as the Beer Hall Putsch.

[link to www.spiegel.de]
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 03:36 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Yep. Dang, times flies. I remember when I was at high school, 20 years ago, the turbullent last months of 1989. The revolution in Romania and the fall of the Berlin wall.
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 03:37 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
It's ok, replacement walls have already been put up in Jerusalem, Baghdad and Kabul.
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 04:31 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Yep. Dang, times flies. I remember when I was at high school, 20 years ago, the turbullent last months of 1989. The revolution in Romania and the fall of the Berlin wall.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 812359

I remember those times, I was in the army then.
Revbo

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11/09/2009 04:37 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
It's ok, replacement walls have already been put up in Jerusalem, Baghdad and Kabul.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 814348


Don't ruin the celebration, jackass. The Berlin Wall was built to hold good people prisoner. The wall in Israel was bult to prevent terrorism. There is no moral equivalent.

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." -Ronald Reagan

"The Muslim call to prayer is one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset." -Barack Hussein Obama
TANSTAAFL
New Age Messiah

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11/09/2009 04:39 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
I was in frickin Bremen Germany when the wall came down, and I heard the first announcement live on my car radio!!!

I was THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dance dancedancedancedancedancedancedance
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/09/2009 04:41 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
I was in frickin Bremen Germany when the wall came down, and I heard the first announcement live on my car radio!!!

I was THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dance dancedancedancedancedancedancedance
 Quoting: New Age Messiah

Those were exciting times, with a lot of hope for the future.
New Age Messiah

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11/09/2009 04:44 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Those were exciting times, with a lot of hope for the future.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 676936


Reagan was awesome. I met an East German girl at my hangout the next night after the wall came down.

I saw this girl sitting alone, and looking a little by herself, you know. So I go up and say hi, to be nice, and who knows...

She says she's an ostie, that's what they called 'em. Ost means east.

So I said I'm an American. We had to do it, you know. Commie Ami LOVE connection. The first American FLAG on Commie turf. sun
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 04:47 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Those were exciting times, with a lot of hope for the future.


Reagan was awesome. I met an East German girl at my hangout the next night after the wall came down.

I saw this girl sitting alone, and looking a little by herself, you know. So I go up and say hi, to be nice, and who knows...

She says she's an ostie, that's what they called 'em. Ost means east.

So I said I'm an American. We had to do it, you know. Commie Ami LOVE connection. The first American FLAG on Commie turf. sun
 Quoting: New Age Messiah

Wow! Fine remembers! O tempora, o moris! Sorry for Latin, friend!
New Age Messiah

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11/09/2009 04:53 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
So I said I'm an American. We had to do it, you know. Commie Ami LOVE connection. The first American FLAG on Commie turf. sun

Wow! Fine remembers! O tempora, o moris! Sorry for Latin, friend!
 Quoting: The Grey Knight 676936


Die mauer wird abgebaut!!!!

That's what they said on the radio. Like somebody scored a touchdown, you know, in the last second of the super bowl. It was so cool.

The girl I met turned me onto some coop music, and ended up marrying my best friend over there, at least I think they were married. Sometime I want to go back and say hi to everyone.

This is the club where we met, and where I hung out. [link to www.stubu.de] They modernized it since, made it more trendy, it sued to be a dank cellar type place. sun
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/09/2009 04:55 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
So I said I'm an American. We had to do it, you know. Commie Ami LOVE connection. The first American FLAG on Commie turf. sun

Wow! Fine remembers! O tempora, o moris! Sorry for Latin, friend!


Die mauer wird abgebaut!!!!

That's what they said on the radio. Like somebody scored a touchdown, you know, in the last second of the super bowl. It was so cool.

The girl I met turned me onto some coop music, and ended up marrying my best friend over there, at least I think they were married. Sometime I want to go back and say hi to everyone.

This is the club where we met, and where I hung out. [link to www.stubu.de] They modernized it since, made it more trendy, it sued to be a dank cellar type place. sun
 Quoting: New Age Messiah

Die Deutschen waren unglaublich! I was in another Eastern European country then, where the Revolution was bloody.
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 04:56 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
[link to www.lasvegas.net]

Possibly the best-kept secret in all of Las Vegas, nestled just a few steps north of the Fremont Street Experience, is Main Street Station Casino Brewery & Hotel. Set in the splendor of the Victorian era with a fabulous collection of antiques, artifacts and collectibles, visitors will find non-stop casino action and great dining.

Visit the pictureque lobby and pick up a descriptive brochure at the bell desk and take a self-guided tour of the antiques and artifacts from around the world. The collection includes Buffalo Bill Cody's private rail car, a fireplace from Scotland's Preswick Castle, lamps that graced the streets of eighteenth century Brussels, beautiful statues, chandeliers from the Figaro Opera House and Coca-Cola building, woodwork from American mansions of long ago - and more.

There's even a piece of the Berlin Wall. This odd attraction can be found in the men's room off the main casino floor. The Travel Channel voted it Las Vegas' #2 historic bathroom.

Main Street Station ...one of Las Vegas' most unique properties and downtown's best hotel!
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2009 04:56 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
That's right, the wall ended up int he men's bathroom in Main Street Station.
The Grey Knight (OP)
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11/09/2009 04:59 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
I remember the joy of east-germans when they passed freely in West-Berlin, and then in West-Germany. To be honest, a lot of thanks to Gorbachev and Reagan.
New Age Messiah

User ID: 782948
United States
11/09/2009 05:01 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
I remember the joy of east-germans when they passed freely in West-Berlin, and then in West-Germany. To be honest, a lot of thanks to Gorbachev and Reagan.
 Quoting: The Grey Knight 676936


They were ASTOUNDED with the groceries that were available, especially produce. sun
The Grey Knight (OP)
User ID: 676936
Romania
11/09/2009 05:01 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Maybe for Americans this date has no significance, but for a German and an European it's time to remember 1989, the year of changes.
GlennQuagmire

User ID: 692844
United States
11/09/2009 05:03 PM
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Re: Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall
Obama didn't show up to celebrate, he was too busy apologizing to everyone for David Hasselhoff.
GiggityGiggityGiggity!

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