This is the annniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. In retrospect it seems so obvious that the Soviet sphere was teetering on collapse: Poland’s Solidarity had once again re-emerged as a force and Czechoslovakia was protesting. East Germany was seen as the Soviet Union’s staunchest supporter, but the floodgates were opened when the government announced that the borders wold be opened. The reasons for this have been recounted by numerous historians with a number of perspectives, but what is worth considering is why the pundits missed the immediacy of the end of the Cold War. As a student, I remember a teacher telling us that we’d all be dead and the Berlin Wall would still be there. This was an educated man with a PhD in political science – how could he have missed all the warning signs.
What does this tell us about perception?
What about historical inevitability?
What can our students learn about 1989 from this?
The mistakes tell us more about ourselves and the zeitgeist than the political realities.