I don't imagine that even President Reagan could have imagined that his 1987 speech in West Berlin, against the backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate, could have brought about the end of the discredited East German puppet regime so rapidly and that it would be followed only a couple of years later by the break-up of the Soviet Union itself:
"Mr Gorbachev. Tear down this wall!"
- Helmut Kohl, West German Chancellor at the time, beams and claps in approval.
Naturally a lot of people have been drawn to Berlin in the days, weeks, months and years since those heady days 20 years ago (I was in Dubai/Abu Dhabi at the time - I travelled frequently between the two and lived in both then, but have not been to Berlin so far), and apart from Berliners there were obviously a lot of others there at the time I suppose and not just foreign journalists, but it seems that [now President] Nicolas Sarkozy wasn't amongst their number for the 'big event' as his 'Facebook' entry apparently said he had been, although he may well have been there a day or two later; no doubt the memory plays tricks [ahem!] after so many years.
During the roughly 28 years of the wall's existence most people were trying to get out of East Germany, but just a very few were headed in the other direction, including this British person [and Communist 'fellow-traveller']. Having joined the British Communnist Party on his 18th birthday in 1948 and working as a Party organiser for 18 years, he moved to East Germany in 1976, where he acted as a Stasi (secret police) informer on British citizens there. John Tarver, who is now 79, says he regrets supporting Communism with such zeal [and I suppose it is good that he has learned this lesson at long last], but his explanation that as a person brought up in the Catholic faith he needed "a strong belief system" is a poor kind of excuse. Apparently he has now gone back to his Catholic roots. Good luck to him and I hope he lives out his days peacefully; it is just a pity that his personal 'crisis of faith' caused him to live his life so despicably for so many years by making life unbearable for those whom he chose to inform on. But that is 'socialists' for you, full of excuses and self-justification for their outrageous behaviour! If anyone is offended by my blanket categorisation of all 'socialists' and 'socialism' as odious, I really don't care - they can get lost(!), so far as I am concerned.
To end this article on a more cordial note, I look back on today twenty years ago as a very positive development, not just for Germany, but for the whole of Europe.