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August 20, 2011

August 13, 1961: The Day Communism Admitted Its Complete and Total Failure

This month, 50 years ago, the Berlin Wall went up and the Iron Curtain descended upon millions. In the early hours of Sunday morning, August 13, East German police and military forces executed a carefully planned maneuver to completely close off all access from the Soviet sector to West Berlin. Walter Ulbricht's Soviet-backed solution to stopping the mass exodus that was killing his Communist satellite state vision of East Germany was to pen them in and kill them if they tried to escape.

For 38 years.


East German soldier Conrad Schumann tosses aside his rifle and leaps over the barbed wire to escape to the west. Almost ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, suffering from depression and unreconciled differences with family and former comrades, Schumann committed suicide by hanging himself.

This was the month, 50 years ago, that communism had to admit its complete and total failure, so much so they penned in their people behind a wall, and enslave them.

I've been reading Frederick Kempe's "Berlin 1961", which chronicles the conflict between Kennedy and Khrushchev, and the "most dangerous place on the planet" in 1961, Berlin.

Even though Berlin was controlled by the "Four Powers" after WWII (England, France, the United States and the USSR), Berlin was physically behind the Soviet line of control, the border between East and West Germany. A single 100 mile highway ran through to the American, French and British sectors. In a show of power in 1948, the Soviets closed down the Autobahn, and the Americans responded with a massive airlift of food and supplies to keep West Berliners alive for almost a year, until the humiliated Soviets reopened passage having to admit failure.

East German communist leader Walter Ulbricht complained bitterly to Khrushchev that the open border was bleeding East Germany of badly needed laborers and professionals who fled harsh conditions in the East for the powerful post-war growth and prosperity in the west under the leadership of Konrad Adenauer. Khrushchev had already humiliated Kennedy at the Vienna Summit, held closely after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Khrushchev believed Kennedy to be weak, and indecisive.

One line in Kempe's book sounded so damned familiar, after Kennedy's complete failure at Vienna, "Throughout his life, Kennedy had depended on his charm and personality to overcome obstacles.

Yet none of that had broken through Khrushchev's force field."

Now who could it be, who could it be, who believes so amazingly in his powers of pretty charming verbal persuasion, having only tested these skills on adoring fans?

Anyhow, this is a good read and I recommend.


The deadline


Deadly face off at Checkpoint Charlie


Shot while trying to escape, like so many


Ronald Reagan is vindicated, because the he understood the human spirit

I remember Reagan's challenge. And I remember I thought he was wrong, the world could not change just because he called them out.

He was right, and I was so wrong.

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posted by Dave In Texas at 03:42 PM

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