By Vatican News
As Europeans across the continent mark 30 years from the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, one cannot but recall the role played by Pope Saint John Paul II in unifying Europe in freedom.
The military guarded concrete barrier physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border, which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, the Berlin wall came to physically symbolize the "Iron Curtain" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
The Polish Pope’s Apostolic Visit to his native country in June of 1979 made a great impact on the divided continent, as it was the first visit of a Pope to a Communist country.
The values that, so clearly were at the center of his pontificate, were widely acknowledged as playing a pivotal part in sparking the revolution that brought down the wall paving the way for German reunification, and ultimately the demise of totalitarian regimes in Europe.
From the Archives of Vatican Radio, we bring you a programme written and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick to mark the historical event:
Berlin, a city once at the heart of twentieth century geopolitics, as the stage of Nazi Germany and subsequent Cold War. One which has moved beyond East West boundaries ever since the reunification of Germany which took place on the 3rd of October 1990. A result of the clamorous historical event which paved the way to that reunification, the 'Fall of the Wall', that 162 kilometre barrier that had divided Berlin in two for twenty eight long years.
The date to remember is the 9th November 1989. Twenty years later, to mark that same date, a German author by the name of Victoria Strachwitz set out to interview a cross section of twenty people from each side of that Wall shining the spotlight on their personal witness in an effort to put people into the picture. Let’s listen to what she discovered in this series of interviews.
Among those Victoria Strachwitz interviewed were some of the key players in this event. To mention a few, the Mayor of West Berlin at the time, Walter Momper, the last Commander of the British sector in West Berlin, Sir Robert Corbett and Gunter Schabowski who in a sense triggered the opening of borders by raising popular expectations during a press conference.
She chose to give the book the title of , “Nothing special occurred”, because these words were pronounced by some of the officials in East Berlin at the time, with the intention of playing down the historical significance of this event.
What Victoria Strachwitz discovered in the course of her research was the high risk factor involved in the opening of the borders. One she hadn’t previously taken into consideration, the fact that the loss of one single person’s life on this occasion might have changed the outcome of the event from peaceful to bloody.