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Remember When the Berlin Wall Fell, 30 Years Ago

November 4, 2019

Surrounded by thousands of cheering Berliners, a man crouches atop the Berlin Wall with a hammer and chisel. He strikes blow after blow with all his might and begins to break apart the concrete partition that for too long had imprisoned East Germans under an oppressive socialist regime depriving them of the unalienable freedoms we hold so dear.

That day was November 9, 1989—thirty years ago. Together, the world watched as the light of freedom pierced the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall crumbled. But three decades after that momentous event, the tide of socialism is rising again—on our very own shores. Rest assured that the Goldwater Institute is standing firm in defense of liberty to ensure our free society remains strong, and we are achieving great success all across the country.

East German Combat Groups of the Working Class close the border on 13 August 1961 in preparation for the Berlin Wall construction.

A piece of the Berlin Wall sits on my desk as a tangible, ever-present reminder of socialism’s harsh reality. When I hold that fragment of concrete, I think of the story of Peter Fechter. As a 17-year-old, Peter was living in East Berlin. On August 13, 1961, the East German authorities closed the border and began construction of that notorious wall, separating Peter and his family from his sister in the West. One year later, after the construction of the Wall, Peter tried to escape from East Germany through a daring act of defiance that would lead to his death. As Peter climbed toward freedom, East German border guards took aim and fired, leaving Peter to die at the foot of the Berlin Wall, just outside of liberty’s reach.

Peter was not alone in yearning for freedom. Before the Berlin Wall was constructed, nearly 3.5 million East Germans escaped to the West. They were fleeing a socialist system that promised equality, but it was equality at the hand of the state, which meant all were equally enslaved and dehumanized—and denied the opportunity to live their lives on their own terms. East Germany’s leaders knew the only way to keep people from fleeing to freedom was to imprison them with concrete and barbed wire in the depressingly gray state. Not surprisingly, the socialist dream ended in deprivation: crumbling infrastructure, useless factories, painful food shortages, rationing and price controls, stifling censorship, religious persecution, political imprisonment, and no private enterprise.

Today, the movement toward socialism in the United States is advancing from the liberal left in cities and states, in the halls of Congress, and on the presidential campaign trail. Populist politicians demonize capitalism, call for trillions of dollars in new taxpayer spending, insist on government-run healthcare, advocate untenable and unaffordable energy, and even promise economic security for all who are “unwilling to work.” Though socialism’s American advocates attempt to disavow the heavy hand of authoritarianism, they seek to achieve their goals through a bigger government that ultimately demands it. The historic anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall reminds us how that story ends.

We at the Goldwater Institute know there is a better way. We work each day to advance the principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty, empowering all Americans to live freer, happier lives. And we’re winning real victories for liberty by working in state courts, legislatures, and communities nationwide to advance, defend, and strengthen the freedoms guaranteed by the constitutions of the United States and the 50 states.

Thanks to your passionate and generous support, we have accomplished great things for freedom over the last year. In our 2019 Liberty in Action, you will learn how Goldwater’s Right to Try law is already providing hope for terminally ill Americans, how our litigators are defending the freedom to speak and associate freely, and how we’re restoring free speech on college campuses, preserving property rights from coast to coast, expanding the ability to tailor an education to a student’s unique needs, and making an incredible impact across America.

Just as Senator Barry Goldwater dedicated his career to standing strong in defense of freedom, we at the Goldwater Institute know that liberty isn’t a talking point. It’s action—and we’re living it out in everything we do and fight for. Together, we’re achieving incredible results, and we could not do it without your support.



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