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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
German press dissects "concrete monster"
Fragment of Wall memorial
The Wall was a favourite with graffiti artists
The Berlin Wall rose - and fell - almost overnight, yet it remains a potent symbol of the 20th century. The German press reflects on the 40th anniversary of the day when Berliners first woke to the harsh reality that theirs was a divided city.

"More than eleven years after its fall, the Wall is no longer just the past. It is beginning to become history," Frankfurter Allgemeine says.


The Wall wended its way through the city like the swollen scar of a festering wound

Berliner Morgenpost
The paper says the Wall served one purpose and one purpose alone: not, as once claimed, to keep "Western fascists" out - but to keep East Germany's own people in. And there were always people ready to risk their lives to jump what was for some a final hurdle.

Remnant of Berlin Wall
Little of the original structure remains today
"That is why there are calls to preserve the remains as memorials," Frankfurter Allgemeine adds. "The more the Wall fades in living memory, the greater the need to retain for posterity what the division meant for Berlin and all of Germany."

Festering wound

Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel likewise notes that history has marched on and the Wall is no more. "Who indeed still remembers exactly where it used to stand?" the paper asks. "And who does not have difficulty today in accepting that it really did exist?"

But while testimonies to this "monstrous structure" grow scarcer and the physical evidence disappears, the Wall remains "a German past which comprises an unavoidable, uncomfortable reality in our unified present", the paper says.


In the hearts and minds of all those who experienced and suffered it, everything lives on: those fateful nights when it appeared and disappeared - and everything in between. Terror and anger and pain and mourning

Berliner Morgenpost

The weekly Die Zeit comments on the political significance of the structure: "The building of the Wall 40 years ago was the first capitulation - and the fall of the Wall was the final capitulation - of Communism. And in both cases the Germans struck lucky."

They were lucky because - the paper says - "empires normally fall on the battlefield, not while peacefully asleep". Germany could easily have become the main arena for a new world conflagration. One false move - as in 1914 - and Germany would be no more.

The Berliner Morgenpost provides a particularly colourful epitaph to this ephemeral - yet paradoxically lingering - episode in the nation's history.

"The Wall" - the paper says - "wended its way through the city like the swollen scar tissue of a festering wound, and it hurt just as much."

Man-eating monster


The paper contrasts the day 40 years ago, when the division of Germany seemed set in stone, with today: "And what remains? Mere memories, fragments of the past... without the Wall."

Watch tower against backdrop of Berlin Wall
Watch towers were ubiquitous
"No sooner had this man-eating monster grown out of the void when, just as abruptly, it disappeared. Almost completely - almost too completely!" the paper says.

"Yet in the hearts and minds of all those who experienced and suffered it, everything lives on: those fateful nights when it appeared and disappeared - and everything in between. Terror and anger and pain and mourning - and unbridled joy," Berliner Morgenpost concludes.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

12 Aug 01 | Europe
Timeline: Berlin Wall
22 Jul 01 | Music
Berlin Love Parade in pictures
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