What does a Berliner who lives in the United States do in Hong Kong? He talks about his experience almost 25 years ago when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down!
2014 is a year of historic anniversaries:
- The Eiffel Tower in Paris opened 125 years ago
- World War I started 100 years ago
- World War II started 75 years ago
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 50 years ago
- The Tiananmen Square Massacre unfolded 25 years ago
Each of these events, in different ways, marked the passing of an era, as did another historical event from 25 years ago: the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I was living in Berlin in 1989 and would not have predicted this even a week before! The emotion of those days will always stay with me. Hugging strangers and celebrating in the streets, having all classes canceled as teachers took us to the Brandenburg Gate instead, watching our East German neighbors flood supermarkets to buy their first bananas. I knew the world would never be the same. But even then I would not have predicted that the Soviet Union would cease to exist a mere two years later.
Earlier this week I was in Hong Kong, a city that has experienced its share of change over the years. The Rotary Club of Hong Kong had kindly invited me to speak about the events that unfolded in Berlin 25 years ago. Standing 43 floors above the city I recounted my own personal experience and shared treasured behind-the-scenes stories from my youth in the German capital. It was an honor to do so.
None of us know what the next 25 years will bring. Or even the next 5 years. But something about speaking about the Fall of the Berlin Wall in Hong Kong this week, including the questions I received, made me feel that we are at one of those inflection points, near the passing of another era. Stay tuned…