Twenty-five years ago, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made one of the most iconic Cold War speeches in American history: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” our President said at the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989, at the same time that the East German government collapsed.
There had been 44 years of brutal totalitarian control of East Germany and the other parts of Weimar Germany, which were simply swallowed up by Communist Poland (Silesia, Pomerania, and the southern half of East Prussia) or the Soviet Union (the northern half of East Prussia — and also huge chunks of 1939 Poland). Half of the German people lived under regimes that had secret police as odious as the Gestapo. The Stasi, the East German secret police, controlled a significant portion of the entire national population and had spying devices almost everywhere.
Moreover, West Germany was pocked with Stasi agents. Chancellor Willy Brandt was forced to resign office when it was determined that his personal aide was a communist agent. Even those considered on the “Far Right” in West Germany were actually very close to the Marxists, and this was a relationship that existed from the early days of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), which has had profound consequences for the people, the culture, and the direction of Germany.
After WWII pro-Nazi ("Nazi" is the short form of "National Socialist") Germans worked together with communists toward the same ends. In the early 1950s, Fritz Dorls, the leader of the neo-Nazi Socialist Reich Party, said, “The two national socialism of our time joined each other in the logical line of history; both had basically the same ideals and the same goals…. If war comes, we must greet the Russians with open arms, and let them pass through our country.” He also said, “In the Malmo Manifesto (issued jointly with other neo-Nazi groups of Europe) the SRP [Socialist Reich Party] proclaimed ‘the aim of convincing hesitant pro-Communist elements to align themselves with the national socialist movement.’” This was the rule: “Most of the minor neo-Nazi groups of unregenerate old Nazis followed the new, pro-Communist line.” When the Socialist Reich Party (SRP) was dissolved, Muhlen wrote: “After the dissolution of the SRP, the Communists offered the functionaries of the neo-Nazi party corresponding posts in their own party provided they would first voluntarily undergo a three-months’ training course in Soviet Russia. Many accepted.”
As former communist Freda Utley noted in a 1951 book: “In Europe the Soviet government accepted anyone who was anti-American whether Nazi or fascist or collaborationist.” Former SS Obenstrumfuhrer Adelbert Baumler, for example, ran counterintelligence for the East German Communists; Dr. Leo Lange, who had belonged to the Gestapo, controlled East German Communist radio and the press; and a number of German generals who served Hitler also served the new East German government.
The same was true in other Warsaw Pact satellite nations, as an author who was tortured by ZOB secret Czech police under Communism, noted: “These men were brutal: some of them had worked a collaborators with the Gestapo and had had a thorough course of training in the methods of the Nazi secret police.” William Henry Chamberlain, a communist who left the party, observed in 1950 that in Soviet-occupied Germany there was “more rehabilitation and utilization of ex-Nazis” than in other sectors of occupied Germany.
But this alignment between the Nazis and the communists was not strictly a prewar association. This close relationship between communist and Nazis existed in Weimar Germany after WWI and even in Nazi Germany. As late as 1939, Ulrich von Hassell, who was executed by the Nazis in the aftermath of the 1944 plot to kill Hitler, wrote: “The chief Nazis everywhere were the old communists; their views, naturally, were unchanged.”
Those who believed in God and in individual liberty, however, never found either party good.
After WWII ended, West Germany began “de-nazification.” In East Germany Nazis found a welcome home. But throughout the land, the influence of Godless communism continues to be felt.
Since the Berlin Wall fell, which was an event that presaged the collapse of the Soviet Union, collectivist statism has still not been discredited. The Social Democrat Party in Germany, a socialist party with a chief purported aim of redistributing wealth through government, remains the second largest party and, in fact, held power under Chancellor Schroeder for years. It's noteworthy that state elections suggest that the coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats, which currently control the Bundestag, the legislative body in Germany, may well be swept out of power in the next general election.
Though millions of Germans are now free to practice religion as they choose, according to a 2008 poll, less than half of Germans even believe in God (and part of those who are believers are part of the growing Islamic population of Germany). The values that created Europe have wilted under a century of militant atheism and Darwinian theories of sociology.
Economically, Germans have been historically productive, as economist Dr. Thomas Sowell has noted in his books on the subject of cultural values and success. West Germany was among the most prosperous nations in the West, and East Germany was, far and away, the most prosperous Marxist nation in history. (It was, in fact, the only Marxist nation that had anything akin to modest affluence.) But the economic strength of Germany is tied to that of Europe, which has been dropping as the euro zone has demonstrated the weakness of collectivist societies who try to mask the extravagance by spreading the risk over a number of nations. Economic liberty, which has proven the best source of prosperity, is not popular in Germany or most of the rest of Europe despite the sorry experience of two forms of socialism — National Socialism (Nazism) and Bolshevism — in modern German history.
American troops remain in Germany, about 53,000, or more than in any other nation in Europe. These deployments continue more than 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union and 67 years after the fall of Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, Europe, including Germany, is facing an influx of Muslims, which has begun to intrude into historic European cultural and jurisprudential values. Sharia is winding itself into family law in nations like Germany and Austria, and it seems inevitable that the growing Islamic population (although many of the Muslims in Germany are Turks, not Arabs) will begin to assert political power as the birthrate in Germany and other European nations has for decades been insufficient to prevent a decline in the native populations of these European nations.
Twenty-five years ago, when President Reagan called attention to the obvious fact that a political system that had to stop its people from leaving via the use of barbed wire, police dogs, and machine-gun towers was a hopelessly failed system, our President was dead right. However, the “nothing” of Marxism must be replaced with “something” to avoid that political end. Trust in limited government and individual liberty blended with serious faith in the God of the Christian and Jewish bibles is that indispensable “something,” as our Founding Fathers knew. Without that foundation, then some other dangerous foolishness — Islamo-Fascism or chic atheistic devotion to notional manmade global warming or socialism that “works” — will continually worm its way in and corrupt peoples and nations. In many ways, that is the legacy of the Berlin Wall and its fall.
Photo of Ronald Reagan: AP Images