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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 18, 2009
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Fall of the Wall Remembered
November 18, 2009   
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Former Polish president Lech Wałęsa tipped the first of 1,000 colorful giant dominoes set up where the Berlin Wall once stood as part of celebrations Nov. 9 marking the 20th anniversary of its fall.

n The dominoes fell one by one along a one-and-a-half-kilometer line from the Reichstag to Potsdam Square in the German capital to symbolize the collapse of communism in the countries of Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989.

During the ceremonies, Western European politicians said that the fall of the wall and Germany's reunification would not have been possible without Poland, which played a key role in undermining communism in Eastern Europe.

The domino in front of the Reichstag that Wałęsa pushed over was dedicated to Solidarity, the trade union he once led and which played a key role in the collapse of communism. The domino was decorated with Polish motifs by students from the Polish class of Berlin's Robert Jungk Secondary School. The motifs included a red-and-white map of Poland and images of the Polish Round Table of 1989 and of the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, in addition to an image of the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II.

Wałęsa said in a brief address that the fall of communism and of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked a victory of the people and not of politicians.

"No politician predicted nor could have predicted that the wall would fall," Wałęsa said. "The wall fell not in terms of power or interests, but in terms of faith and values. The wall would never have fallen if it weren't for the pope from Poland, who appealed to our conscience with the words: 'May Thy Spirit descend and renew the face of the land-this land.'"

For 10 years Solidarity showed the world and the Germans how to fight the communist system, Wałęsa said. "It was the people who forced politicians into decisions they had to make," he added. "Thanks to its value system, the generation of that time managed to end the second millennium of Christianity peacefully-without divisions and without using force."

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso tipped the other end of the domino wall.

Those attending the Berlin celebrations included Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the democratic changes in Central Europe would not have been possible without Poland and its Solidarity movement, which launched the peaceful transformation in the region. "Freedom does not come by itself-freedom must be fought for," Merkel said.

Clinton voiced a similar view, speaking about the historic importance of the workers' strike at Poland's Gdańsk Shipyard in August 1980 and about the role that Polish-born Pope John Paul II played in liberating the central and eastern parts of Europe from communist totalitarianism. The pope spoke out for the aspirations of people across Europe and the world, Clinton said.
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