Jericho, Berlin and what wall next?


I remember going on a school trip to Germany when I was a young teenager. I don’t remember that much about the visit to be honest, but I do remember the wall.

We were not in Berlin but we were staying near enough to the border between East Germany and West Germany to warrant a visit. Indeed the teachers organising the trip clearly thought that it was something that we all needed to see.

It made a big impression. I can still remember being told that we all had to behave – no larking around and no running into the grass near the wall lest we risk being shot.

That in itself was shocking.

I remember the stillness around as we climbed up a lookout tower to look over into this other country – a strange place which you could be shot at for meddling with.

And looking into the other side, we could see members of the military looking back out at us in the West.

What were we really each looking at?

In many ways I think that the anniversary this weekend of the fall of the wall should have been more of a celebration for the whole of Europe. Even those tiresome Eurosceptics in the Tory party might have been expected to have got on board for a celebration of the end of the Cold War and the fall of repressive communism.

The incredible thing to my mind is that something which seemed so fixed, so immovable has gone. How often we need to be reminded that things can change.

The Berlin Wall wasn’t just a physical wall, it was something which existed in the politics of Europe and something which existed in our minds too. The physical represented something much more.

So, what walls need still to fall. Where does Joshua’s trumpet still need to sound?

Inevitably, thinking about the Berlin Wall one’s mind turns to the wall separating Israel from Palestine and cutting right through people’s lives. Thoughts turn too to Korea.

Berlin reminds us that such divisions are not eternal and that things can change utterly.

And there will be mental walls which we can barely recognise that will yet fall too.

Freedom isn’t just a passport to the West.


[Photo Credit: Gavin StewartCC Copyright Attribution 2.0]