A Lexican recently made a post on the F/B page that surprised me.
We just past the date where the number of days since the Berlin Fell was equal to the number of days that it was up.
From August 3, 1961, when I was 11 years old, to November 9, 1989 when I was 39 years old.
For those of my generation, that was pretty much all we knew, and it seemed that it would still remain when we died.
Looking up these days just now, I realize that the meme was incorrect. That point where the days up equaled days down was 5 years ago.
Only the bravest ventured across as tourists. You stayed in hotels that the Russian travel agency, Intourist, told you to stay. You assumed that your room was bugged and someone was listening. You would worry about Russian civilians, approaching you to exchange dollars for rubles. Were they KGB plants?
When I was stationed in Germany, along with over 300,000 other Army and Air Force personnel, the other side of that border might as well have have been Mars.
When it fell, it was so quick that no one could have predicted it. First East Germany and Hungary, and then a couple of years later, the Soviet Union itself. *
When the Soviet Union fell, it seemed like the beginning of a new Golden Age.
And with its dissolution were the freeing of so many republics the Soviets had annexed through the years.
And with the Ukraine, there was a dilemma. Apart from the Soviet Union, it was the 3rd largest nuclear power in the world. The USSR had thousands of nuclear weapons there.
The question was, should they remain?
Three decades ago, the newly independent country of Ukraine was briefly the third-largest nuclear power in the world.
Thousands of nuclear arms had been left on Ukrainian soil by Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But in the years that followed, Ukraine made the decision to completely denuclearize.
In exchange, the U.S., the U.K. and Russia would guarantee Ukraine’s security in a 1994 agreement known as the Budapest Memorandum.
Now, that agreement is front and center again.
Would there have been an invasion had they remained in the Ukraine?
I tend to doubt it.
In the early 90s, I was able to tour Russia on a former East German riverboat on the Volga from Moscow to St Petersburg.
It really was an enlightening tour and cleared up some misconceptions I had about Russia. For one, I assumed that the communists wanted to wipe away any reference to their past history.
On the outskirts of St Petersburg are these magnificent palaces that the Czars used. The Nazis occupied them during the siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg under Communist days), and when they retreated, burned them.
In the early 50s, the Soviets decided to rebuild them to their former splendor, and taught workmen the “old ways” craftsmen built things in the 1700s. I can remember seeing some “before” pictures of palaces that were burned out husks and “after” they were rebuilt. I assumed that they had some pride in their past after all, Czars and all.
Over 900,000 civilian Leningraders starved to death during that siege, and you can visit a park where they are buried.
I have photo prints in a box somewhere, and I will have to scan them and post some of them. Everywhere I went in Russia were war memorials honoring their dead fighting the Nazis.
This is how Vladimir Putin apparently honors his dead, fighting in the Ukraine. He apparently remembered his Afghanistan War, and the civilians back home protesting all of the caskets being returned to the Motherland.
I wonder where all of this will lead.
02-28-22 ** The fall was so quick that when I visited Dresden in 1992, with West German businessmen so prevalent one couldn’t find a hotel room in the city, there were still elements of the Red Army stranded there. It all had a surrealistic appearance.
A little side note: Vladimir Putin was a KGB Col stationed at Dresden.