The Breakdown of the Berlin Wall
…a native Berliner CARP member looks back more than 20 years later
By Claus Dubisz
There are so many aspects to consider when we talk about the unification of Germany. Various people, circumstances and developments played a significant role in enabling the opening of the wall on November 9, 1989.
I often wondered about the role of our Unification Movement in that process and I came to the conclusion: It was the spirit behind it, the yearning of the founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon to see unity.
As a religious person, Rev Moon often asked himself why there was division and separation? He once told us that the main reason for this was mankind´s separation from God, the consequences of which were to be found in every aspect of life: in the various languages, different cultures and religions. Barriers divide people and cause misunderstandings and resentment which can lead to war. However, God´s ideal is completely different. He wanted to see mature people with ideal families caring for the creation in a responsible manner.
With this in mind, I would like to highlight some of our contributions to peace in Germany:
I was born in Spandau, a part of former West-Berlin. I lived there for 21 years and witnessed the Berlin Wall being built. So many times I experienced the value of living in a free country, and also the feeling of liberation, when, after crossing the GDR on their old highway, one left the border behind and could finally breathe the air of freedom again. The slogan “The Wall must go!” was one I carried deep in my heart and later pursued as a lifetime-task.
I learned from Rev Moon that unity cannot by achieved by force. Although his own experiences of a divided Korea were much worse: he was persecuted, tortured almost to death and finally sent to work in a concentration camp; when he met Kim Il Sung in 1991 he showed us that true love can heal all these wounds.
I love to recall the scenes of November 9 in Berlin. I watched them again and again on television or in the internet. It is so moving to see how the people responded when they heard that they had freedom to travel. At first a few went to the Wall – and could pass through! Then more and more people followed and finally the turnpike was raised! And remember the joy, the cheers, the tears! One woman expressed that she had never seen so many men crying.
One can easily understand the joy of the East Germans. But also in the West we discovered a new joy, one that seemed lost and buried. We shared the joy of the people in the East as they finally gained the freedom to travel to the West, and the relief that this chapter of German history had finally come to an end.
When we experience such kind joy we may ask: where does it come from? It must have been hidden deep in the hearts of men. In the basic teachings of the Rev. Moon, the Divine Principle, we find an explanation:
“With the progress of history, people have been ever more zealously aspiring for freedom, even at the cost of their lives. … The purpose of our search for freedom is to facilitate the accomplishment of our God-given responsibility, which is essential for fulfilling our purpose of creation. … Moreover, as aspirations for freedom mount in intensity, people will demand a social environment conducive to its realization. When the social circumstances of an era cannot satisfy the desires of freedom-loving people, revolutions inevitably erupt. … Revolutions will continue until true freedom has been fully restored.“ (Divine Principle, chapter 2, section 5.2, 5.3)
It is interesting to note that the roots of the GDR uprising are to be found in the churches: in the prayers for peace. These started long before 1980. So we can only evaluate and appreciate the history of the German unification properly when we recognise God´s work behind the scenes.
The Unification movement carried out various activities, some of which had a more symbolic meaning. I remember that on 1st May 1985 several of us visited East Berlin, each with a copy of the Divine Principle. We were to give it to somebody who believed in God. We asked the people, “Do you believe in God?” If they said, “Yes!” then we were to give them the book, together with the official spending money of around 20 Ostmark [East German Marks], and then return home. It wasn’t easy to find those people. And we all have exciting stories to tell of that adventure.
Then there were the ideological discourses presented by our partner organization, CAUSA, as a counter-proposal to the Communist ideology. CAUSA illuminated the faults of the communist ideology and explained its basic mistake: the denial of God. As a consequence, awareness of God’s existence had to be raised in the West in order to bring about any change.
At that time, the confidence that an individual could influence anything in this world had almost disappeared from society. Our student organization CARP had set the goal of re-kindling and cultivating this awareness. In 1974 we were handing out hundred thousands of pamphlets in Frankfurt University, one of the strongholds of communism in Germany, and later, 1976 and 1977 all over the country. Those were two very intense years for CARP.
One may assume that it wouldn´t be a problem to hand out pamphlets and share one´s opinions in a democratic society, but we discovered that it could be dangerous! Groups of students would suddenly gather and beat us and push us into the bushes. They called us “fascists”!
In a unique action, 1 million leaflets were distributed everywhere: “Pray-Fast-Unite: Against Communism, for the Re-Unification of Germany.” This was against the spirit of the age, but I believe it made an impact. …
None of us had originally much experience of public marches, demonstrations and rallies. However, we gained the burning desire to go out again on the streets and speak the truth.
We decided to hold a demonstration in Berlin on 17th June the following year, the 30th anniversary of the people’s uprising in East-Germany, which was brutally suppressed by Soviet guns and tanks back in 1953. Our Blue Tuna band played “And the walls came tumbling down.” In a symbolic act, the Berlin wall was broken.
1985 then became a decisive year.
On 11th May Mikhail Gorbachev was elected leader of the Soviet Communist Party and introduced changes such as perestroika and glasnost, which shook the rigid structure of the Soviet Union and later caused the USSR to disintegrate.
In this very year August, the “Professors World Peace Academy,” an academic organization founded by Rev. Moon, held a conference in Geneva entitled, “The Fall of the Soviet Empire.” It was a challenge to organize a conference under such a title. However, over 200 renowned scientists, professors and journalists from both East and West participated.
In Berlin CARP organized 4 rallies on one day. The highlight was a march along the wall in Bernauer Strasse [Bernauer Street]. The sky became pitch-dark. A cloudburst of rain fell on our demonstration but nobody ran away. On an observation stage directly at the wall we shouted our key message in 21 different languages towards the East:
“Brothers and sisters in the East, we will never forget you! We are fighting for the unification of Germany and all people of the world. Thank you!”
Such action may not sound so special, but on the next day a tragic incident became eternally connected to that rally: our Portuguese CARP leader Henrique D’Araujo who had attended the rally, was killed on his return journey by a bomb that exploded in Frankfurt airport. This made us realize that what we were doing was not a game, it was a serious spiritual confrontation, which cost the precious life of our brother.
During the next years we realized important changes taking place. In June 1987, Ronald Reagan visited West-Berlin and held a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. Under much applause he demanded:
“Mr. Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Such words weren’t heard for many years. And developments like this encouraged us in the preparations for the long-planned “4th CARP Convention of World Students” in August 1987. Such congresses had already been held in Korea, Japan and America. Many German CARP members had attended these meetings and were impressed by the great events and the eloquent guest speakers. We knew that we didn´t have such impressive guest speakers, but we had something else: we had to tear down a Wall! The time had come for thousands of students from all over the world to protest against it! That finally fulfilled Rev. Moons prophetic words to CARP from 1981:
“One day in the not-too-distant future, we hope we will go to Berlin and shout to the communists, ‘Break down that wall. That wall doesn’t belong there!’ … In Germany, as the hub of non-communist and communist activity, if we win the battle, namely in Berlin, we will get world support, and this is the end of VOC (Victory over Communism). After that, we start loving them. It’s different from American and Japanese VOC in that it’s directly linked. If we win, there is no more fighting, but straight to Moscow. Then the communists will be in their twilight, whereas the Unification Church will be in its early morning, like the rising sun.”
The officials of Berlin were quite skeptical about our activities and started to oppose us: Churches, politicians, leftists, anarchists attacked us legally, with negative propaganda, and also physically. (That’s a story in itself, with incredible situations, frustrations and victories.) However, we received international support: professors, politicians and other VIP’s protested against the unjust opposition. Representing many, Prof Arnljøt Svendsen, professor of economics from the university of Bergen in Norway, and conservative party leader in that city, said:
“I am not a member of Rev. Moon’s Unification Movement, however I am deeply impressed by the moral commitment of the CARP members. They represent human noble-ness, intellectual and mental idealism. If we could have more student movements of this kind in the world, we could calmly trust the future.”
Finally the Convention took place. During the main assembly former SED party ideologist Edda Hanisch pointed out:
“You are the first ones, who will demonstrate tomorrow with many people against the wall. Since 1961 we haven’t seen any mass demonstration of the West-Germany political parties against this wall!”
Hyo Jin Moon, the eldest son of Rev Moon led the final protest march to the Peter Fechter memorial; Fechter was a young man killed by communist border guards when he tried to escape in the West.
Our Blue Tuna band, supported by musicians from England and Germany, led the crowd in rhythmic chanting: ‘The wall must break.’ I vividly remember German CARP President Dieter Schmidt shouting to the watching and filming East German border police:
“This rally is only the beginning. We will not stop here. We will march forward until Moscow. Please remember that and print in your newspapers!”
At this point a small note: after the GDR collapsed, the documents of the secret police (Stasi) were all collected, and even many shredded reports could be restored. In 2011 we asked this documentation center, if there were relevant documents about the Unification Movement and specifically CARP. The result was an amazing 3,000 pages with observations and reports. The communists had carefully watched leading CARP members, the CARP houses and all the activities, especially in West-Berlin!
Back to August 8, 1987: In his speech at the wall Hyo Jin pointed out the special support for Germany from students all over the world who were dedicating themselves for unification. We were not there to provoke an argument or conflict, but to bring true love! He ended his speech by reminding everyone that:
“….Inside of God’s heart there is even room for communism. Inside of God there is even room for Gorbachev! Come on, let’s go to the wall and pray!”
The rest is history. Unexpectedly, without a visible plan, the people of East Germany gathered strength to demand more freedom. Demonstrations grew in numbers, peacefully, carried by prayers and candlelight. In October 1989 the army refused to counter the protest by firepower. And on November 9, freedom of travel was officially announced in a press conference, also for the area of East-Berlin. The East- German border guards were taken by surprise. They were left without clear orders, then only followed their hearts. And as the gates were opened, a country united with tears of joy.
One year later, Germany was officially re-unified. It was time to remind the German people that all this could only happen because God was behind it:
“Thank God for the Unification of Germany in Peace and Freedom”
Today we are able to live in a united Germany, but let us remember that there is another land which still remains divided because their wounds and clefts are much deeper than ours. I am referring to North and South Korea.
To conclude, I would like to quote from Rev Moon´s reflections about the unification of Germany as written in his autobiography. He reminds us that the events which took place here in Germany have influenced the rest of the world:
“In any country, one reason a dictator will tend to tighten his grip is that he fears for his life in the event he may lose power. I think that if a dictator can be certain that his own life will not be placed in danger, he will not go headlong down a dead-end street in the manner of Ceausescu [the leader of Romania who was executed after his communist regime collapsed].
Our country too, will be unified before long, by one means or another. So politicians and economists need to make the necessary preparations in their own fields of expertise. As a religious person, I will work hard to prepare to greet the unified Korea in which we can embrace the North Korean people with love and share in a common peace.
I have studied the unification of Germany for a long time. I have listened to the experiences of those who were involved with regard to how it was that unification could come without a single bullet being fired or a single drop of blood being spilled. In so doing, my hope has been to find a way that is appropriate for Korea. I have learned that the main reason Germany could be unified peacefully was that East German leaders were made to understand that their lives would not be in danger following unification. If East German leaders had not believed this would be so, they would not have allowed unification to occur so easily.
I came to believe that we need to give a similar understanding towards the rulers of North Korea.” (As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen)
I believe that everything we do is a process of give and take, so everything we invest will one day return its fruits, and what we do here will influence the whole world.