Today, 9th November, marks a significant anniversary in European history. It is 25 years since the infamous Berlin Wall was opened up to allow East and West Berliners to visit each other for the first time since the barrier was built by the East German government in the year of my birth, 1961. The Wall had cast its shadow across my life, a convenient symbol for propaganda on both sides of the Cold War, impossible to ignore especially in a Communist family like ours. I vividly recall the powerful imagery of the Pink Floyd film, and the sense of jubilation that emanated from the TV on that day the wall started to crumble (the actual demolition, and subsequent re-unification of Germany, took a year or so longer). The Wikipedia entry for this momentous event mentions that “Over the next few weeks, euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall.” The latter included a friend of my parents’ who happened to be visiting Berlin at that time, and witnessed the events of November 9th. He arrived at their home shortly afterwards to present them with these 2 chips of concrete, complete with scraps of blue paint and – is that graffiti? (I should mention that my parents had left the Communist party by this time, unable to reconcile their lifelong beliefs with the reality of Soviet communism. They joined the short-lived Democratic Left breakaway party).
These relics were unearthed recently at Brother 2’s house; you can see them above in the hands of his youngest daughter (Niece 2). He has generously donated one of them to the Usmeum, where it is proudly displayed amongst other Soviet relics (like this one) collected by my parents on their travels to Communist countries.