I’m not normally one to write about or discuss meaty political topics, but if it’s something I care enough about, then I will most definitely speak my mind. Ha, you’re so going to regret opening this article! Or actually maybe a part of you may agree with me… we shall see, won’t we?

A very short letter to: The World

One thought that has crossed my mind repeatedly since last year is this:

“Dear World,

Divided cities and countries never work. They just don’t. Divided cities, divided countries, even a divided world will never succeed. But why have we not learned this yet?”

Sincerely,

Justine Cross
Frustrated Travel Blogger

Where’s all this coming from?

When the UK was asked to decide whether to remain in or leave the EU, I hated the idea that we were being asked this. You can probably guess that I voted to remain, and that’s because I believe in having a united front. In war, in love, in everyday life, two heads are always better than one … if put to good use!

And again, when the U.S. were contemplating whether to vote for Trump or Clinton, there was still an underlying question of whether America wanted to be divided or not. I definitely don’t need to remind you about the wall in Mexico that was supposedly going to be built. What ever happened to that by the way? Wait, was yet another Politician lying? Humpf, no surprise there then.

Now, this wall very quickly reminded me about the wall in Berlin that we all know of. Yes, the one that was finally torn down once everyone realized that standing together is better than being apart. Having been born in Germany at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is something that is a little closer to my heart than most. And having seen the effects that war and division have had on such a beautiful city first-hand whilst travelling through Berlin, it was only a matter of time before this little shouting political voice would appear in my head.

And hey, with only a week to go until we have yet another election here in the UK – this time deciding who should continue to govern our country, it’s probably pretty good timing to be getting all political. But first, some history…

Berlin Wall Shoes

Why was the Berlin Wall built?

Built in 1961, most politically minded individuals or communists would argue that the wall was built to split up the capitalists and communists. But this isn’t 100% correct. The wall was actually built to prevent immigrants from Eastern European countries immigrating to the Western countries. Following World War II, emigration was fairly common in Europe and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) wanted to put a stop to this. Sounding familiar to Trump’s wall at all?

Despite this being the reason why the wall was built, it completely split not only Germany but one city: Berlin. Families were torn apart, friends were separated, and would you believe that this all happened overnight? This vast wall in Berlin was built in one night – crazy to think it really!

Interestingly, this wall and the divide ended up personifying the ideological divisions following the Cold War: The Capitalist West and The Communist East. So, I guess indirectly the wall did help to split up these opposing sides.

Berlin Wall

Why did the Berlin Wall fall?

Thankfully, nearly 30 years after it was built, Germany and its officials realized that a divided country and a divided city was not the way forward. Here, we should send out a “Thank You” to those Eastern European countries that started revolutions against this divide in 1989 – Poland and Hungary, I’m looking at you! This act of speaking out against officials cascaded down to result in East Germany joining in, which eventually led to the demise of the wall. Most believe the wall to have fallen in 1989, but the actual official demolition of the wall ran from 1990-1992.

This demolition began a huge celebration in which Berliners danced on the wall that had divided their city for so long. Whilst some danced, others joined in with the demolition using sledgehammers and pickaxes. Some even came back to grab chunks of the wall as souvenirs! Take that politics!

You see? History tells us that divided countries, cities and nations just do not work. Heck, they don’t even last!

Berlin Wall Newspaper

How does the Berlin Wall look now?

One thing I find most extraordinary about Berlin is that it doesn’t hide its past. Wherever you go, you are reminded of the horrendous things this city and country has been put through. From bullet holes on landmarks, to war memorials, Berlin accepts its history and shows just how much they’ve learned from their past. Why hasn’t the rest of the world caught on to that yet though?

Today, you can glimpse fragments of the wall throughout Berlin, as well as a line that runs the length of the city to show where the wall once stood. It’s really quite haunting to see just how vast this construction was; and I could only imagine what it must have been like to be completely separated from your family in one foul sweep of overnight construction.

Berlin Graffiti

What happens now?

If only I knew. What I do know is that in exactly one week’s time, Brits will be voting for which political party should govern the country, sparking up yet more discussions about Brexit. Trump will continue to be an untrustworthy politician (just like most of them). And I will continue to be perplexed about why (given Europe’s history), we haven’t yet learned that divided nations are not the way forward. Who’s with me?

What do you think? Should we stand together? Or divide? Let me know in the comments, and a political discussion may just ensue. How’s that for a unique travel blog article?
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Why divided cities & countries never work

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