In 1992, I visited “new” Berlin for two days and nights. Soviet troops were being withdrawn from what had been “East Berlin,” the post-WWII communist-controlled portion of the city established from 1949 until two years after my visit. The occupying Soviets were no longer conducting military exercises, but they “goose-stepped” through the city as we tourists gawked. Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known crossing point between the East (communist) and West (free) portions of the city, was still staffed by Allied and Russian soldiers.
Berlin was trying hard to establish a post-Cold War economy, and tourism was on the list of new ventures. Our hotel was a run-down former barracks for troops and their families. Small, double-occupancy rooms featured bare linoleum floors, a mid-twentieth century bath, and a huge armoire in place of a closet. The armoire hid plumbing fixtures that had supplied water to a single-wall kitchenette. The twin beds were iron cots with springs under lumpy mattresses, but on each pillow, the hotel staff had placed a green peppermint candy. So much for modern amenities!
By far, the most interesting attraction for us was the Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop emigration from East to West. The area adjacent to the wall became known as the Death Zone; many were gunned down while attempting to escape the oppression in the East. But now, the great human spirit had risen with a paint brush to squelch all memory of those evil days. Still mostly intact when I visited, the entire barrier was covered with graffiti in many languages, declaring sweet freedom in all the colors of the rainbow. This brightly embellished barricade reminded me of another wall in the book of Daniel. Both walls foretold the end of cruel oppression and the coming of a better life under new rulers (Daniel 5:22-30). The Berlin story encourages us that God is faithful to His people throughout history. God will have the last word over human oppression.
God of Freedom, we know You want all Your people on earth to dwell in peace with no worries of oppression. Until that day comes, sustain us with Your Word and Your grace. Amen