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The Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago but the mental bricks are still falling for many Germans - 07 April 10
Remnants: consigned to history but still in living memory

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 triggered the almost total global collapse of communism.

The capital of a re-unified Germany beats to an international vibe that appears to have all but eradicated the memory of severed country.

Just enough of the Wall and symbols of physical and ideaological division of a bygone era have been retained for the tourists and school history trips.

The infamy, however, of the 100 miles of closely-guarded concrete and barbed wire designed to keep the East Germans in (rather than the "enemy" out) lingers on.

Many cannot forget the 239 who died trying to escape to freedom in the West. The Orwellian
oppression suffocated art, music and literature as well as life.

A businessman explained the reality of living in a divided country with a city of millions encircled by the Wall and guarded by British, French, American and Soviet troops.

Despite having the rigorously checked visas and permits, he never knew if the East German border guards would let him through the checkpoints to his buiness contacts in Poland. After queuing for hours it would often be a seemingly harmless word or phrase that would upset the guard. Bringing a special variety of beer for a friend's party resulted in confiscation - the guard was offended that he thought that the East didn't have beer. The memories of this harshness still rankled. Forgiving and forgetting seemed to be equally hard to do.

But the West was just as guilty, playing Ronald Reagan and Maragaret Thatcher opposite Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker.
Andy Warhol first exhibited the iconic Campbell's soup tin painting in West Berlin and it seemed the capitalists took great pains to throw the ultimate in partying, consumerism and indulgence in its eastern neighbours' faces. The city became a battleground of ideology while the actual wars were played out in the poorest nations in the world.

Now there is just under a mile of Wall left as a monument to human stupidity and inhumanity. Just a couple of months after the wall came down, artists were invited to graphically display their thoughts and feelings about almost three decades of being under siege on its stone slabs. The graffiti and paintings faded over the next 20 years, in much the same way as many assumed the memories of living under the threat of nuclear annilation and Russian invasions faded.

But the memories were as sharp as he reality and just as the artists were asked to renovate their work last year for the anniversary, so many people took the time to relive and regale their experiences in the hope that it would make humanity think twice before erecting walls to separate itself.