More walls must fall

How come those who build truly massive anti-personnel walls in Palestine and Korea celebrate the fall of the relatively modest Berlin Wall?

The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November was marked by a media frenzy and had all the sleazy great and the self-important good in the imperialist countries out on parade proclaiming their glee at the fact that the people of East Germany had found ‘freedom’ and set off a chain reaction that brought about the collapse of a very large part of the world socialist camp. Nobody thought to mention that it was the imperialists who divided Germany and made necessary the building of the wall in the first place!

The reality, however, was that the only ‘freedom’ that came to East Germany was freedom for its people to be exploited by local and foreign bloodsuckers, who, in their thirst for profit, deprived the vast mass of working people of every social benefit that they had enjoyed for decades under socialism – guaranteed housing, health care, education, employment, nurseries and crèches, and so on.

An article in the pro-imperialist German magazine Der Spiegel is appalled to note that a 57 percent majority of people in East Germany, according to a poll conducted earlier this year, now consider that socialism was a good thing.

[One] political scientist has … compiled a selection of typical letters to document the climate of opinion in which the GDR and unified Germany are discussed in eastern Germany. Some of the material gives a shocking insight into the thoughts of disappointed and angry citizens. ‘From today’s perspective, I believe that we were driven out of paradise when the Wall came down,’ one person writes, and a 38-year-old man ‘thanks God’ that he was able to experience living in the GDR, noting that it wasn’t until after German reunification that he witnessed people who feared for their existence, beggars and homeless people.” (‘Majority of eastern Germans believe that “Life was better” in the German Democratic Republic’ by Julia Bonstein, Spiegel Online International,7 March 2009)

The constant declamations against the Berlin Wall in the imperialist media stand in stark contrast to their very subdued coverage of the wall built by the Israeli zionists to facilitate control of, and further landgrabs from, the Palestinian people, and the deafening silence about walls built by the south Korean puppet regime with US backing that have been separating the south from the northern part of the peninsula for nearly 50 years.

How many people know that:

Concrete walls … run along the southern edge of the Military Demarcation Line, which cuts across the waist of the Korean peninsula for 240 kilometres. They measure 5 to 8 metres in height, 10 to 19 metres wide at the bottom and 3 to 7 metres across the top. More than 800,000 tons of cement, over 200,000 tons of structural steel and upwards of 3.5m cubic metres of mixture were used in building the walls. Eight counties and 122 villages have been divided, and three railways, three roads and over 220 minor roads have been cut off by the walls.

The construction of the concrete walls took several years from 1977. In those days, the south Korean authorities advertised them as ‘barriers against tanks’ in case of ‘southward invasion’ from north Korea. However, this allegation did not persuade people at the time, just as today. According to the military manual, antitank barriers mostly average two metres in height, but the concrete walls are several times higher. The walls have been set up not only across roads and level ground but also across places inaccessible to tanks.” (Korean Committee for Solidarity with the World People, email dated 12 December 2005)

These barriers were built to keep the Korean people divided, to cut off contact between the exploited and oppressed south Korean people and the people of the socialist north who were enjoying an unprecedentedly high standard of living before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left them struggling with serious power shortages which were difficult to overcome because of the US trade embargo on their country.

We join with the government and people of the DPRK in demanding the removal of this wall as a step towards the long overdue reunification of the Korean people, who have been torn asunder because of the US appropriation of the southern part of their country.

Strangely, when this wall is finally torn down, while we shall be celebrating wildly, we have no doubt that those who were out celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall will choose to stay at home sulking.