The Berlin Wall Did Not Fall

The Berlin wall did not fall, it was destroyed, with hammers, picks and axes. Strong men bravely hit the stone Wall that ran through their lives, until they destroyed it, making it possible for the two Germanys to reunite. 

Those who came up on top of the Wall were hit with water cannons, but they resisted. 

It was 1989, a cold autumn day of November 9.

In Chișinău, 30 years ago, November 9 was to come with unprecedented protests for Moldova. There were clear signs of it on November 7, when, during the traditional military parade dedicated to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, thousands of people came out with slogans with a completely different content from the traditional ones displayed at such events. 

On November 7, 1989, in the Victory Square, as it was called at that time, hundreds of people wore slogans that could not be accepted by the power: “Down with imperial thinking! We are demilitarizing the republic! Down with the policy of importing human resources! Free and democratic elections! We have the right to history! Neostalinists, free the political scene! Down with the communist dictatorship!”

Those days, several hundred protesters, including the martyr poet Leonida Lari, tried to block the parade of tanks through the center of Chișinău, and a battalion of special troops hit the crowd without mercy. 

Nobody in Soviet Moldova could admit then that a military event, dedicated to the Bolshevik Revolution, could be disturbed by a handful of simple, unarmed people, lacking the support of the authorities.

On November 10, just a day after the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany, in Chișinău, protesters, angered by the slaughter on November 7, decided to protest in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. (Vladimir Voronin, who later became President and leader of the Communisty Party, was then Minister of Internal Affairs).

The protests were also motivated by the intention of the Central Committee of the Communist Party to arrest and expel from Moldova those who were on the front line at the protests of November 7, so as not to “contaminate” the whole society by the plague of protests.

On November 10, people armed with banners posted on the steps of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, calling out “Violence generates violence”, “Down the anti-people militia”, “Why do you strike your brothers?”. 

The protesters demanded the release of the persons detained on November 7. In consequence of the violent protests, 75 protesters were detained, 145 militiamen were traumatized. Some windows of the ministry were broken.

Despite the threats and violence applied, those gathered in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs resisted, and their firmness made it clear to the whole society that change was in the air, that change was inevitable. 

Few of our citizens had heard then about the fall of the Berlin Wall, about regime changes in central Europe, because the press was controlled by the party, and the party did not accept open minds.

The protests of 30 years ago could have culminated otherwise, if Moldova had politicians as firm and steadfast as the simple people, ready at any time to take to streets and defend their cause. 

There were days when they, the simple people, shielded the politicians, without realizing that those politicians were men good for nothing, that they took advantage of them, that they had other interests and that the blood they shed in protests for them was a simple color, which gave them support and stirred public admiration.

After the Berlin Wall had fallen in Germany, the Germans set to work. They worked and they built, not new walls, but new houses, schools, hospitals and businesses. They thought about their lives and their families. 

In Moldova, after the fall of the Soviet regime, the politicians fought for power, and the people, those who overthrew the regime, dreamed. They dreamed that they chose the best, that each of the elected officials deserved their vote, their support and even their love. 

The years passed at a fast speed for both the Moldovans and the Germans. And if we were to compare life here and there, we would see huge differences. 

From everything that has happened here in the last 30 years we have got, in particular, some memories and lost dreams. The Germans, besides memories, have got a palpable standard of living. What a big difference!

Aneta Grosu, aneta@zdg.md

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