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History in Berlin

November 12, 2009

Re "Getting over the wall," Opinion, Nov. 8

I am the son of a Berliner who celebrated her 85th birthday this month and grew up in the Kreuzberg district. My mother is a living eyewitness to Berlin's history and the nightmare of mankind's darkest days -- World War II.

We were most pleased to see the excellent coverage you gave on the destruction of the Berlin Wall, as we had relatives cemented in by the Soviets' bricks.

It is our great regret that my mother's parents did not live long enough to see the wall torn down. My mother survived living in a city where tens of thousands died over the course of five years of air raids. The wall was just one more insult to humanity and the value of life.

Craig Carr

West Hills

Re "Missing our evil twin," Opinion, Nov. 9

Gregory Rodriguez's article refers to the nostalgia felt by the residents of the former East Germany, but there has been a similar sentiment from those on the Western side as well. Once both sides' initial joy over the fall of the Berlin Wall passed, all Germans faced hard realities, such as higher unemployment and crime rates. For years the old West had blamed most of its problems on the old East.

In this context, one must analyze nostalgia not only as a longing for the past but also as a defense tool against the difficulties of the present. It is a reaffirmation of a quasi-lost identity formed by a political and economic system that, for better or worse, marked all Germans for generations to come.

Berta

Graciano-Buchman

Beverly Hills

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Rodriguez's column should have been titled "Kennedy nostalgia" for its misplaced emphasis on the "Ich bin ein Berliner" phrase and speech -- which made everyone feel good after the Berlin Wall was erected but that made no contribution toward its eventual fall.

But I understand that this is The Times, so referencing those politically incorrect leaders who really contributed to the fall of the wall -- Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa -- is difficult to do.

Kevin Dretzka

Los Angeles

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