How children perceived the fall of the Wall;International News;News amp; Opinion

5th November 1999 at 00:00
RILU Webers, who teaches English in a suburb in the centre of former West Berlin, asked her students to record their memories. This is what they said:

Mirine (17): "I was seven and wondering why everybody had watched the news and why my parents were so excited. I saw literally everyone reading newspapers. I didn't see any faces, just the papers: that fantastic headline: 'The Wall has fallen!'

"The idea of reunification was marvellous. But there were unforeseen consequences. It should have been prepared much better. Both parts are discontented. People in the west pay taxes for the East. Unemployment is higher in the East. Racism has increased, especially in the East and more violence in the West.

"My parents emigrated to Berlin from Korea because of better jobs and higher wages. We are second generation immigrants, but we are not welcome here. I'm a 'foreigner' although I was born in Berlin, not only because of my Korean passport but also because of my looks. My parents forbid me to go to many areas of Berlin. They say it's dangerous for foreigners and I think they're right."

Paula (18): "I was born in Rostock (GDR) in 1981, so I was eight when the Berlin Wall came down. I don't recall any bad experiences during my childhood but my mother was unhappy. She had a boyfriend in West Germany and could only meet him in Prague occasionally, so she asked the East German government for permission to marry him in West Berlin. She had to wait two years then everything happened so fast.

"I was totally unprepared and confused when my mother said: 'We are moving to the other side in one week,' as I only knew this 'other side' from TV, where everything was so colourful and people seemed to have fun and be free to do anything they liked.

"The only thing I remember about crossing the border were two East German officials who called us traitors because we were leaving.

"My new school was too easy for me, but it was hard to integrate . I didn't wear Mickey Mouse T-shirts and Adidas shoes, but a pink sweater, knitted by my grandmother. Eventually I made new friends and forgot what life had been like in the GDR.

"Since (the Wall came down) west Berlin hasn't changed as much as East Berlin. But my life changed completely when I crossed the border of the GDR in December 1987."

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