|Tragic jokes at the Iron Curtain|
In hindsight, nuclear holocaust being averted, the Cold War can be appreciated from the Western side as a grand and sinister work of art; 'The world according to Kafka' directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Berlin with its Wall was like no other city in the world, a wormhole connecting War and Peace, East and West, Freedom and Tiranny in defiance of all the usual laws of causality. Although it took only a Western passport to move in and out of that black hole in the middle of East Germany, it seemed so locked tight in historical spacetime that I never expected it to move an Angstrom in my lifetime.
But then, in between my second and third visit to Berlin, a sorcerers
apprentice called Gorbatsjov started tampering with it and it evaporated! The
awesome threat of the Warschau Pact armies, the demonic omnipresence of KGB,
Stasi and Mutual Assured Destruction, the stifling intimidation of the Vopo's,
it all crumbled to dust practically overnight and left you wondering whether
they had not been an illusion all along.
But the crosses in this picture, next to the Reichstag, tell you that for the people on the wrong side of the Wall, it was all deadly real. Each cross bears the name of one DDR-citizen, killed during his or her attempt to escape from the black hole. Under each name is a date; the last time a life desperate for freedom was cut off by DDR-bullets was only days before the Wall came down and thousands of Ossies simply drove to West-Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie in their Trabants. Somebody should track down the Vopo who fired these last shots, and ask him how it feels to have made the most absurd and senseless execution in the history of Communism.