Robin Niblett talks to Gitika Bhardwaj around the physical and psychological significance of border walls and also their role in national politics today.

You are watching: What did the fall of the berlin wall symbolize


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This year point out the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall, i beg your pardon stood in between 1961 come 1989, came to symbolize the ‘Iron Curtain’ – the ideology system split between East and West – the existed across Europe and between the two superpowers, the US and also the Soviet Union, and also their allies, during the Cold War. How far-ranging was the Berlin wall surface during the Cold battle – was it an ext important physically or psychologically?

The Berlin wall surface was essential physically, and psychologically, since Berlin was the just city that was split physically by the Cold War in between the Soviet Union and also its allies in the eastern Bloc and also the West.

Given the disparity that conveniently emerged in between the two sides in economic wealth, flexibility of expression and so on, the fear was that, without that wall, there would’ve been a unification of Berlin in a means that the Soviet side would have lost.

But it to be also really important psychologically because it came to be the symbol of the department between two ideologies that experienced each various other as inimical to every other.

That supposed that if you want to visualize the Cold War, and the separation between the capitalist, autonomous system of the West and also the communist, command-and-control mechanism of the East, Berlin available a place where you might physically walk from one world, through a checkpoint, right into the other. The entirety Cold War could be lessened to this one nexus point.

Because the its psychological as well as its physical significance, the fall of the Berlin wall surface quickly became the price of the please of the communist ideology it had actually shielded.

Since the loss of the Berlin Wall, European countries have reportedly constructed over 1,000 kilometre of walls – the tantamount of more than six times the complete length that the Berlin wall surface – along their borders.

Why has actually Europe been building more walls and also how reliable have they been? have they to be used an ext as icons to very nice to political bases, and if so, has actually it operated with voters?

The walls that have actually been built in Europe recently have actually been for a very certain reason. This to be the large influx that migrants and also refugees to Europe in 2015, with what was called the ‘eastern Mediterranean’ or ‘western Balkan route’, native Turkey to Greece and also on with the Balkans, Serbia and also Hungary to northern Europe – in what to be Europe’s greatest migrant and also refugee crisis because the second World War.

What’s amazing is the for Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian government, which to be on the frontline of the flow of migrants and refugees, building a wall was a way of reasserting the sovereignty.

Like numerous other countries along the ‘migrant route’, lock resented that the rule under which people could migrate into Europe to be flouted by northern European federal governments which to be willing to accept large numbers the migrants and refugees.

By agree them, they kept attracting more, and also so Orbán was worried that, at some point, Germany might say ‘We can’t take anymore’ and they’d it is in left in Hungary.

It’s essential to remember the the communist states of main and eastern Europe were maintained in aspic by the Soviet Union – they exist in a hermetically sealed atmosphere without immigration. Together a result, castle didn’t endure the rise of multicultural societies of the type that arised in Britain, Belgium, France and Germany, wherein immigration persisted transparent the Cold war period.

The countries of central and eastern Europe to be delighted the the Berlin wall collapsed due to the fact that it enabled them come unify with western Europe. They had actually been vassal states of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and by involvement the EU, they re-discovered personal freedom and re-gained national sovereignty. They thought they had end up being masters the their very own future again.

But lock suddenly found they were on the frontline the a new movement of people that wanted to acquire into the same world that they’d gone into some 15 years earlier. And, as thousands of thousands of migrants and refugees began arriving, they all of sudden realised they to be in a union that did no respect their sovereignty.

So, because that them, putting up walls was a sovereign act against a europe Union that didn’t seem to take your sovereignty seriously.

Has the worked? Definitely. The circulation of migrants has been decreased drastically. This is partly due to the fact that the EU payment Turkey to hold earlier the over 3 million migrants based there. But the walls likewise acted as a physical and psychological deterrent.

It also worked politically. It enabled Viktor Orbán and also other europe parties the took the sovereigntist line to strengthen your appeal to voter – voters favor to recognize that governments can do details things choose protecting them and their borders.

What is hypocritical, however, is that countless of the federal governments in western Europe which criticize the Hungarian federal government for building its wall surface have actually been quite grateful the they walk so as it slowed under the circulation of migrants to your countries.

Then yes the additional hypocrisy that the EU criticizing Donald trumped for building his wall surface with Mexico as soon as Europeans room benefitting from theirs in Hungary.

Two years prior to the autumn of the Berlin Wall, former US chairman Ronald Reagan tested Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to ‘tear under this wall’ heralding ‘across Europe this wall surface will fall. For it cannot withstand .’

32 year later, building a wall surface along the US–Mexico border has come to be a cornerstone of the present US management under Donald trump who has pledged to construct a ‘big beautiful wall’. Just how does this reflect the political evolution of the US and what impact does the have throughout the remainder of the world?

President Reagan talked about tearing down the Berlin wall as a symbol of the Cold War. The knew that the fall of the wall surface would threaten the Soviet Union.

President trump card is means beyond the Cold War. Structure a new wall is his solution to the growing sense of financial dislocation the segments the America, like Britain and other parts of Europe and the developed world, have experienced ~ above the back of the increase of globalization, which was partly the result of the end of the Cold war but additionally the increase of China.

The spread out of globalization, the decreasing earning strength of numerous workers in the West, advances in technology which have actually taken away numerous high-earning jobs, the eight years of austerity after ~ the worldwide financial situation – these are all determinants driving Trump’s thinking.

Have inflows the Mexican immigrant or immigrants v the Mexico border to be the principal driver of financial insecurity? No. What you’ve obtained is Trump promise to construct a wall surface as a price of his administration’s determination to defend Americans.

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So I’d say the US–Mexico wall surface is an additional symbolic – or emotional – wall. Trump’s wall surface is supposedly around stopping illegal immigration yet there space still many of ways to come with the border posts. That principally an practice in political theatre.