Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall II: St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig

Pictured above is the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, the physical heart and soul of the citizens movement for freedom in East Germany. Here, Johannes Sebastian Bach spent most of his career overseeing the musical life of the church, playing the organ, and composing most of his glorious music. It's a Protestant church, plain inside, mostly shades of white. It is small but beautiful. Its feel isn't terribly different than that important symbol of our own American Revolution, the Old North Church in Boston. During the waning days of East Germany the citizens met here every Monday night at 5 pm , and then as November, 1989 approached the meetings became nightly.

In speaking of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Koch, Editor-in Chief of German media giant Deutsche Welle World, said

"[T]wenty years later, it is important to remember that it was neither the West nor politicians who made this day possible. It was citizens of the GDR who, on the dismal streets of their walled-in state, asked for nothing more than their rights.

"The fact that weeks of peaceful protest led to the collapse of the concrete and barbed wire barrier affirms the place of democratic constitutional history, and the values upon which it rests."

When George Bush the Elder started talking about the reunification of Germany I thought he had lost his mind. Wasn't a unified Germany the fiercest enemy of the US and its allies in both World War I and II? Didn't it represent a peril that no sane person would ever embrace? What I didn't factor in was the human desire for freedom, and how that works on the hearts and minds of people who seek it.

For a comprehensive coverage on the fall of the Berlin wall, click here to go to the English language version of Deutsche Welle, with photos, stories, editorials, and even a story about how the Stasi, the old East German secret police, tried to recruit young Angela Merkel as a spy.

Do you love the picture of the Nikolaikirche? I do. I was so delighted by my photo skills when I found it in my Leipzig travel photos, I knew I had to share it with you. Unfortunately, I now seem to remember that I copied the travel photos of another family member and put them on my little computer, leading me to believe that this wonderful photo wasn't taken by me at all.


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