Saturday, July 02, 2005

Berlin to Bulldoze Checkpoint Charlie Monument

A monument to victims of the Cold War will be bulldozed on July 5.

Berlin city government, made up of a coalition between the SPD (Gerhard Schroeder's Social-Democrats) and the PDS (former SED party that ran Communist East Germany), has decided to allow the razing of the Checkpoint Charlie monument by court order.

... The monument ... consists of over 1,000 crosses adorned with the names of those murdered attempting to escape Communist East Germany for freedom ... .

... As we indicated above, the Communist PDS is currently a member of the coalition that governs the city of Berlin. But prior to 1990, the PDS was known as the SED, the party that ruled East Germany with an absolutist iron fist. It was the SED dictatorship that was directly responsible for the hundreds of murders that the crosses at Checkpoint Charlie memorialize. And guess what? The PDS wants the monument torn down!

The monument grounds were leased to Ms. Alexandra Hildebrandt of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum by a bank named Bankaktiengesellschaft (BAG) headquartered in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Ms. Hildebrandt and a team of others began erecting the crosses in October 2004. The bank subsequently refused to renew the lease and, when Ms. Hildebrandt refused to remove the monument, sued and won. Ms. Hildebrandt wants to buy the land from the bank and keep the monument at its historic location, but the city government has made it clear that it will oppose her and wants the monument to go despite its enormous popularity.*

... [T]he Socialists and Communists in Berlin's city government don't want to be constantly reminded of the murders that the SED dictatorship committed during the Cold War. How unpleasant that would be for them! So they would rather allow the crosses to be bulldozed ... .
During the Cold War before the reunification of Germany, Checkpoint Charlie was the main entry point from the former East Berlin into what was the post-war American sector of West Berlin. Originally a temporary shack on the West Berlin side, the site was made more permanent when it became obvious that the Soviets intended to make East Germany a part of the Communist empire.

As more and more Germans in the East fled to the West, the Soviets and East German Communists erected a barrier, known as the Berlin Wall, to prevent further escapes and severely restricted legal visits to West Berlin, fearing that East German visitors would choose to stay in West Germany. Nevertheless, many East Germans attempted to escape over, under, around, and through the Berlin Wall. East German border guards were ordered to shoot to kill any who tried.

The purpose of the Checkpoint Charlie monument was to preserve the memory of those East Germans who were killed by the Communists for the crime of trying to escape to West Berlin and freedom. The Communists and the Social Democrats, the party that currently controls the government of Germany, want to erase the memory.

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