It was not long after we arrived that we heard that the spot with the action was along Unter den Linden. So, of course, as soon as we got a bit of time off, we hounded the “old hands” who’d been there before us to guide us to that storied venue.
Several of us hopped on a city bus and headed out. We soon found the fabled strasse – and a surprising obstacle: The wall. The Berlin Wall, to be precise. It cut right across the strasse. Tall, ugly and imposing, it had observation stands at intervals along the side we were on.
One could step up on the stand and look across into East Berlin. There were guard towers on the other side, from which armed guards peered down. There was no spot on that side of the wall that was not under direct observation. I’d been there perhaps five months when we had an example of how seriously they on the other side took their duties.
At one interval, the wall was right up against a West Berlin apartment complex, which from the upper floors, residents could see down into the other side. And one morning, someone attempted to get over to “our side.” He didn’t make it. He was shot, and lay on the ground writhing and moaning. Enraged, occupants of that housing complex stormed out and knocked a hole in the wall, and prepared to retrieve the wounded man. Armed guards stood with weapons at the ready, looking quite scared, as military police from “our side” quickly arrived and began ushering folks away from the breach. A major international incident was avoided. A couple days later, word on the street announced the would-be escapee had died.
If that were the end of the story, such an example might be used to support Trump’s demand for a new wall. “See, it works!” he could crow. Except it didn’t.
After a few more days, we began serious discussion regarding the imperviousness of same. It was not. On several occasions, someone drove a heavy truck right through. On at least one other, an athletic young person pole-vaulted over. So the other side made adjustments, including raising the wall several inches. But people kept finding ways.
There was an extensive subway system throughout Berlin. People were able to get to the western side via those tunnels, and some simply dug their own tunnels. Point being, there was no way that wall was impenetrable. There has never been a wall that couldn’t be breached, not the Great Wall of China, nor Hadrian’s Wall, nor the Berlin Wall, nor any other. So, ignoring history, Donald Trump and some truly crackpot supporters demand a wall along our southern border – a very expensive wall – that also will not work.
I grew up along that border; Trump’s wall would be an immense waste of money and personnel. He needs to back off.
Editor’s note: William Mayers of Sullivan is a retired senior U.S. Army Corpsman. A certified healthcare professional since 1964, he holds two professional licenses, including that of Registered Professional Nurse licensed in New York, Alaska, Virginia and Louisiana. He is the father of three and avid analyst of current events.