We were euphoric. On October 3, 1990 I walked through the Brandenburg Gate, the barrier dividing West Berlin its other half in the East. It was the official day of German re-unification. A year before, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall had been breached, and within months the Soviet Union imploded, the Cold War ended, and the West declared victory for its values and the institutions of liberal democracy.
In the 1970’s and 80’s I lived and worked in West Berlin. And, occasionally during those years I would make a wrong turn while looking for an unfamiliar address and end up facing The Wall. It was always disarming. I was living an ordinary life – except that I couldn’t walk, bike, or drive out of the city without running the East German gauntlet of checkpoints, blockades, and restricted rest stops. Life seemed normal enough – get the kids to school, go to work, shop at the local supermarket, hang out in trendy bars and cafes, and run in the Grunewaldwith the wild boars. For the most part it seemedlike a normal life. But… there was always The Wall.