Update: The Monument Has Been Destroyed.
Important Update: Henry Nickel of Republicans Abroad in Germany has been closely following the planned removal of the monument and has just emailed us this vital information:
"Dear Friends:It looks like the Berlin bureaucracy has bent a bit to pressure, apparently they have postponed demolishion one day (rather more cynical than considerate). Nonetheless the story is taking on a life of its own and has spread considerably. (...) Thanks to all of you who kept the story alive.
So now instead of bulldozing the site at 4:01 AM on July 4th, the monument will be razed at 4:01 AM on July 5th. (Yes, the authorities wanted to remove the monument at a minute past 4 in the morning so that no one would notice.) The irony of this? At 4:01 AM Berlin time on the 5th, it will still be July 4th in the USA! It will be 10 PM in New York and 7 PM in LA, just about the time Americans will be setting off fireworks to celebrate the anniversary of their independence! There is even more to this story...and it has already been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Stay tuned for more soon...
Original article: We didn't think it could get much worse in Germany...well, it just did. Davids Medienkritik recently learned that the Berlin city government, made up of a coalition between the SPD (Gerhard Schroeder's Social-Democrats) and the PDS (former SED party that ran Communist East Germany), has decided to allow the razing of the Checkpoint Charlie monument by court order.
And get this: The monument, which consists of over 1,000 crosses adorned with the names of those murdered attempting to escape Communist East Germany for freedom, will be bulldozed on the 4th of July! (See update above, now rescheduled for July 5th because of the pressure we put on!)
The Checkpoint Charlie monument scheduled for destruction July 4th in Berlin: Each cross has the name, and in some cases, photo of a victim of Communism murdered attempting to escape East Germany during the Cold War.
Berlin's Socialist-Communist City Government: Massive Conflict of Interest
What makes this story all the more disturbing is the obvious conflict of interest involved. As we indicated above, the Communist PDS is currently a member of the coalition that governs the city of Berlin. But prior to 1990, the PDS was known as the SED, the party that ruled East Germany with an absolutist iron fist. It was the SED dictatorship that was directly responsible for the hundreds of murders that the crosses at Checkpoint Charlie memorialize. And guess what? The PDS wants the monument torn down!
To justify their decision to allow the removal, both members of the SPD and PDS have described the Checkpoint Charlie monument as an eye-sore or as something that trivializes the Cold War by turning the city into a Disneyland-style theme park. (How solemn rows of crosses with the names and faces of those murdered by the SED government could possibly make any place seem like Disneyland is something that perhaps only members of Germany's Left can truly comprehend.)
The monument grounds were leased to Ms. Alexandra Hildebrandt of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum by a bank named Bankaktiengesellschaft (BAG) headquartered in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Ms. Hildebrandt and a team of others began erecting the crosses in October 2004. The bank subsequently refused to renew the lease and, when Ms. Hildebrandt refused to remove the monument, sued and won. Ms. Hildebrandt wants to buy the land from the bank and keep the monument at its historic location, but the city government has made it clear that it will oppose her and wants the monument to go despite its enormous popularity.*
According to Deutsche Welle:
"The Berlin Senate for Urban Planning, one of the project's main detractors, fears that the capital is fast becoming a "Disneyland" version of its former self and insists the wall monument is too reminiscent of the Holocaust project at the Brandenburg Gate. The authority stresses that the East German dictatorship cannot be equated with the atrocities of the Third Reich."
In other words, the Socialists and Communists in Berlin's city government don't want to be constantly reminded of the murders that the SED dictatorship committed during the Cold War. How unpleasant that would be for them! So they would rather allow the crosses to be bulldozed on July 4th and mockingly associate the monument with Disneyland, a place that many Germans see as a symbol of trivial American commercialization.
President Bush Ought to Ask Schroeder About the Monument's Destruction
Certainly, we feel that the outrageous timing of the monument's destruction is incredibly insensitive not only to the families of those killed at the wall, but also to all those Americans and their families who served in Berlin and around Germany during the Cold War. To bulldoze this monument on a date that symbolizes liberty to millions of Americans around the world is an incredibly insulting gesture. We hope that President Bush brings the matter up with Chancellor Schroeder tomorrow during their White House meeting. Hopefully the media present at the meeting will also quiz Mr. Schroeder on the matter.
Need Another Reason to Demonstrate?
This much we can say: Davids Medienkritik will absolutely, positively bring the matter up tomorrow during our demonstration at Lafayette park in Washington, DC. We will also be supporting plans already underway to demonstrate in Berlin on July 4th should the plans to raze the monument go ahead unchanged.
Like Disneyland? How can Schroeder's SPD Support the Monument's Destruction on July 4th of all Days?
You can email Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit (SPD) at: Der-Regierende-Buergermeister@Skzl.Verwalt-Berlin.de
Our commenter Trish writes:
"The land may be the (is the) property of the bank, but Checkpoint Charlie is a part of history. It is difficult to understand that neither the city of Berlin nor the Federal Government preserved this property to do what Ms. Hildebrandt is doing, namely commerating more than 1000 people who died trying to attain FREEDOM! Furthermore the choice of the 4th of July, our Independence day, the birthdate of the oldest Democracy on the face of this earth, a Beacon of Freedom to many, to bulldoze this site is quite curious. The educated Germans pride themselves on being knowledgable of history - should the choice of the 4th of July really just be a coincidence?"
Thanks Trish. Very well said. As an aside, the US is one of the world's oldest democracies, but not the very oldest. That honor goes to Iceland.
(Article by Ray D., *hattip Americanbychoice)