Given that I was writing about communism in my last blog entry it seems fitting that I've now come to Berlin which was of course divided between the capitalist West and the Soviet East. I'm staying in a hostel that is two minutes' walk from where the Berlin Wall once was and about five minutes walk from Checkpoint Charlie which was the most famous gateway between the two sections of the city. Near the checkpoint there is a long section of display boards which give a pretty detailed history of the wall. It was put up by the (USSR-controlled) East German government in 1961 to stop its inhabitants from fleeing to the west - over two million had done so since the end of the Second World War when East Germany came under Soviet control. From then until its fall in 1989, several hundred people were shot trying to make the crossing, while many others managed to succeed.
I sat in a cafe right near the checkpoint and watched tourists having their photos taken with fake guards, and had a coffee while contemplating the rise and fall of communism. I know this is hardly the deepest of insights in political theory but it keeps occurring to me that if only they hadn't been so repressive, it might have worked.
Part of the preserved Berlin Wall