In the late
eighties, dominated by the Soviet Union, socialist countries in the East were
troubled with economic problems and rising opposition from within. The
following liberalization caused Hungary to open its borders, thus opening the "Iron
Curtain" between East and West for the first time.
On November 9, 1989, during a press conference after several weeks of civil unrest in the former German Democratic Republic's (GDR), government representative Günther Schabowski announced that all citizens are immediately allowed to visit West Germany and West Berlin.
All citizens are allowed to visit West Germany and West Berlin
Soon after, there was a spontaneous mass assembly of East Germans demanding to cross the border – despite the law not being in effect yet, as Schabowski had provided wrong information. The overwhelmed border police gave in, and after 28 years of separation, the border was opened. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.
After the opening of the border, crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.
Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the Wall. The Brandenburg Gate was opened on December 22, 1989. The "Mauerfall" (fall of the wall) paved the way for the German reunification, which formally took place on October 3, 1990. It is also said to mark the end of the Cold War, since the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact disintegrated not long after, decisively changing the global balance of power and the political landscape.
Second Lieutenant Lorena Mueller and Officer Designate Julian Pabst reconstructed the story of two fragments of the Berlin Wall, erected as a memorial in the Wilhelmsburg Barracks in Ulm, Germany.
Second Lieutenant Lorena Mueller and Officer Designate Julian Pabst, both interns of the Joint Support and Enabling Command, stand in front of the Wall fragments in the Wilhelmsburg Barracks. (JSEC Photo by Senior Airman Bastian Süpple, DEU AF)
After its demolition, fragments of the Wall were spread all over the country, being a horrifying symbol for the 28 years of German separation, but at the same time for its peaceful reunification.
"The first owner of the two pieces was the Heimatschutzbrigade 37 in Dresden, set up with units of the dissolved 7th Armoured Division of the GDR Armed Forces. Their engineers literally helped to demolish the wall with their heavy equipment," Mueller reconstructs the story. "Subsequently, the two elements were transferred to the armoured brigade "Panzerbrigade 12" in Amberg."
In 2017, the barracks in Amberg were closed and the two fragments were handed over to the Multinational Joint Headquarters in Ulm, roughly 130 kilometres further south. Pabst adds, "From their original location in Pankow-Weissensee in Berlin via Dresden and Amberg to Ulm, they travelled an impressive linear distance of about 540 kilometres."
A display presents the history of the Berlin Wall fragments in the Wilhelmsburg Barracks in Ulm, Germany. (JSEC Photo by Senior Airman Bastian Süpple, DEU AF)
Moving the heavy concrete relics to their final destination required a lot of enablement, planning and logistics –important skills the Joint Support and Enabling Command is ready to provide NATO with.