Germany after World War II
After World War II, the winners of the war divided Europe into two spheres. The United States, Great Britain, and France were in charge of establishing order and helping the western nations rebuild. The Communist Soviet Union was in charge of the East. The victors promised that all Europeans would enjoy free elections and determine their future on their own. However, the Soviet Union, led by Stalin, lied and militarily forced the people of Central and Eastern Europe to become communist and follow the will of the Soviet Union. Western Germany was free and Eastern Germany was under the Communists. Berlin, the capital city of Germany, was located in Eastern Germany. Berlin was also divided into a Soviet sphere and a free sphere.
What is Communism?
Communism is a political philosophy developed by 19th century German Karl Marx, but the ideas have existed for thousands of years. In a communist country, everyone is supposed to share everything. Nobody is allowed to own private property, and all people are supposed to have an equal amount of material things. In practice, communist countries are led by totalitarian regimes. Communist leaders treat their citizens like slaves, and make life miserable or kill those under their control. Communists control their citizens, don’t allow basic liberties, such as free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to vote. In the 1900s, communist countries also tortured and murdered over 100,000,000 people.
Communism in Eastern Europe under the Soviet Union
A few years after the end of World War II, it was clear that the communist Soviet Union was not going to allow the Central and Eastern Europeans their freedom. Through propaganda, murder, and brutal oppression, the Soviets kept the Europeans under control. At varying times, individual countries tried to overthrow their rulers, but to no avail. In 1956 the Soviet militarily crushed the Hungarians, and in 1968, the communist countries crushed the Czechoslovakia push for freedom.
Berlin during Communist Control of Europe
While Western Europe modernized and became a beautiful place to live after World War II, Eastern Europe suffered greatly under the Communists. In the east, there was a lack of food and lack of clothing. Everything looked gray and even the buildings fell in disrepair. In Berlin, where there was a free Berlin and a communist Berlin, it was easy to see where the better life was. Even though the Communists didn’t allow anyone to leave, tens of thousands of East Germans escaped to West Germany through Berlin. The Communists decided to put a stop to this, and had a wall built around West Berlin. This was was not only concrete, but included guard dogs, guards in watch towers with machine guns, and a large no man’s land where people could be shot.
The Communists of Europe Lose
Many attempts were made by the Communists to control West Berlin and to defeat the free countries of the west, but they were never successful. The main reason for defeat of Communism in Europe was the United States of America. The U.S.A. helped rebuild the west through generous gifts of money, people, and leadership. It occupied West Germany with 300,000 soldiers to show the Soviets they could not invade. Americans undermined the Communists by broadcasting American music, news, and events by radio to the Communist countries. The more the Communists taught their people that America was the enemy, the more the people loved America.
In the 1980s, American President Ronald Reagan drastically changed the American approach to ending Communism in Europe. Before him, the American policy was containment. The idea was that if the Communists were left alone, they would eventually fall. Reagan, however, followed a more aggressive policy. He challenged the Communists through words by calling the Soviet Union the Evil Empire. He built up American forces which made the Soviet Union to try and outspend the U.S. in building weapons. Reagan also place intermediate range missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet threat. The Soviet Union could not keep up with this challenge and started to loosen its grip on Central and Eastern Europe. Eventually, the Berlin Wall was broken by East and West Berliners scaling the walls and tearing it down, piece by piece. The Communists of Europe lost, the Soviet Union disintegrated, and the free countries of the west, led by the United States, won.
Where is the Celebration of the Fall of the Berlin Wall in the U.S.A?
Unfortunately, there were no great celebrations in the U.S. of the fall of the Berlin Wall. How could this be? How could a complete American victory for freedom over a philosophy and regime not be celebrated by the very people who led it? In 2009, President Obama was invited but turned down the offer to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall. Why didn’t he go? One writer, Jennifer Dyer, notes in her blog, “Obama doesn’t go celebrate a victory for people’s freedom from government because he doesn’t believe in freedom from government.”
Read more at http://libertyunyielding.com/2014/11/09/one-guitar-25-years-fall-berlin-wall/#Tg1FAsB0Guj4efbh.99 She further explains that because President Obama has unfailing respect for governmental power, he does not like the idea that the west, led by the United States, defeated a regime whose aim was to control every segment of society.
1. What happened after World War II in Europe?
2. Who are the Communists?
3. How many people did Communists murder in the last 100 years?
4. What happened in Berlin, from 1961 to 1989?
5. According to one author, why has there not been huge celebrations for the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism?