Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Save the Wall

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When U.S. president Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" in 1987, he could never have imagined that thousands of West Berliners and countless others around the world would be striving to save it today.

Just two years after Mr. Reagan's famous words -- possibly his most memorable speech -- the Soviet bloc was in disarray and East Germany began dismantling one of the greatest symbols of the Cold War.

Today, however, the remaining portions of the Wall, a recognized historic site, are under threat. Early Wednesday, under cover of night, work crews backed by 250 police officers tore down a wide section of what is known as the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining portion of the Wall.

Some $3 million had been invested in preserving the Soviet concrete barrier, which had separated East and West Berlin. It had even been protected under local heritage legislation, but a condo developer needed the space for a road to a new luxury condo complex.

Large sections of the structure had been torn down in the fury of celebrations in 1989 and 1990, leaving only a few sections to mark two of history's watershed moments. Its erection in 1961 deepened American resolve to stave off Communist oppression, while its partial destruction in 1989 was an iconic moment that marked the end of the Cold War.

The remaining sections of the Wall should not be torn down, but preserved as a monument to the triumph of freedom over oppression, and the end of the longest and most dangerous ideological struggle in history.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2013 A14

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