Saturday, July 02, 2005
Checkpoint Charlie Monument to be Bulldozed  

Reported by David's Medienkritik:

In Berlin last November a memorial was unveiled to remember the men and women who lost their lives in their attempt to gain freedom by escaping from East Germany. The memorial, which is adjacent to Checkpoint Charlie, is made up around one thousand crosses which bear the names and pictures of the men and women who risked their lives to gain their freedom. The memorial was the work of many who were led by Ms. Alexandra Hildebrandt who is the director of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. It was opened on November 15, 2004 in order to mark the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

Less than a year later, the memorial will be torn down by the city government. Originally the memorial was scheduled to be razed at 4:01 AM on July 4th. Due to protests by relatives of those honored by the memorial and American veteran groups, the city changed the time to 4:01 AM on July 5th. The explanation provide was that the original time was "media imprudent." However, as David's Medienkritik notes, although it will be July 5th in Berlin at the time of the bulldozing, it will still be July 4th in the United States.

The Berlin government which is made of Social Democrats (German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party) and the Social Unity Party has been annoyed by the monument's existence throughout the few short months it has been in place. This is despite the fact that the memorial is well-done, attracts numerous visitors, and produces income. Perhaps the difficulty found with the monument lies with the Social Unity Party. This party, in particular, may want to silence this reminder of East German brutality because this party is the renamed version of the party which ran the German Democratic Republic until the wall came down.

The memorial is on land owned by a bank which is leased to the memorial's caretakers. The bank went along with the city's disapproval of the monument, and the bank has successfully sued for the memorial to be razed. The only offer the bank has made to prevent the removal would be for the land to be purchased. They have only offered a ridiculously inflated price which is outside the price range of the memorial's supporters.

The irony of this move by the Berlin government is that the day of the memorial's razing is right on the heels of Chancellor Schroeder's visit with President Bush, which in part, was designed to demonstrate that German-American relations were doing quite well. This action seems to fly in the face of that idea.

Posted by David at 8:00 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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