From the China Information Website
Victims of Communism -
East Germany


Click to listen to "West of the Wall", sung by Toni Fisher, 1960. It says it all

Toni Fisher's top 40 hit of July 1962 was titled West of the Wall. It was number 1 on the Hit Parade in Australia for 4 weeks. Toni sang of the sadness of lovers separated by the Berlin Wall which divided Germany from 1961 to 1989.

West of the wall
I'll wait for you
West of the wall
Our dreams can all come true
Though we're apart
A little while
My heart will wait
Until we both can smile
In our hour of sadness
How clearly we can see
Tomorrow's gladness
Free, free, free, free, free ...

Toni Fisher

East Germany's communist regime built the Berlin Wall overnight, by stealth, on a Sunday in August 1961 when many Berliners were out of town. Just two months earlier, as the exodus from East Germany swelled to a flood, Communist Party leader Walter Ulbricht had said: ''No one intends to build a wall.'' That wall, reinforced over the years to become the most impenetrable border in the world, survived for 28 years and claimed at least 136 lives, including nine children.


On August 13, 1961, 50 years ago this month, the Berlin Wall went up in Germany. This barrier divided a country, segregated families and separated friends, and its existence would cast a pall over the country for the next 20 years. As a stark symbol of the Cold War, the wall existed in an era of fear, secrecy and heightened political tension, and those that lived in its shadow would know the painful repercussions of its hardliner policies. For what followed in the years of a divided Germany was a surveillance culture brought on by one of the largest and most feared secret service organisations in the world - the Stasi. Founded in 1950, the Stasi was charged with keeping tabs on all the people living in East Germany, or what was then officially known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It compiled millions of photos, audio and video tapes, and paper files about its citizens. As a result, thousands of people were subjected to intimidation and torture by the Stasi. Many were imprisoned, while others were prevented from getting jobs or going to university. The aim was not only to thwart professional aspirations, but to destroy the personal lives of those that opposed the regime. At its height, the Stasi had over 102,000 officers and nearly a quarter of a million of its own citizens spying on family members, neighbours and colleagues. In 1989, while the Berlin Wall crumbled, senior Stasi officials ordered the destruction of the files they had collected for over 40 years. Data gathered by the Stasi was frantically shredded to destroy evidence, but after protesters stormed the headquarters to stop the destruction, nearly 95 per cent was saved.
Originally published on Aljazeera