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Before the Wall fell down

The Berlin Wall was breached 25 years ago today. The New York Times has an article about those for whom it came too late: On Berlin Wall Anniversary, Somber Notes Amid Revelry

BERLIN — It was the morning after the best party ever, the tumult and joy that marked the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989. After 28 years, East Berliners were giddy with marvel that they could now visit the West.

Günter Taubmann felt different, as if, he said, “I am in the wrong movie.” Eight years earlier, his only child, Thomas, had been killed trying to cross the wall, one of 138 people who died at the barrier erected by the Communists in 1961 to stop Germans streaming out of the poor, repressive East.

ADDED LATER: Re-reading the New York Times article to which I linked above, something about the reference to one of those killed attempting to escape, Marinetta Jirkowski, being shot 27 times, triggered a memory. I dug out from our bookshelves a collection of Bernard Levin’s columns for the Times called Speaking Up. Here is what he wrote in a column dated 22nd January 1981:

For a week or so ago there was a report, so irrelevant to the world’s concerns that I could find no trace of it any newspaper other than the Daily Telegraph, where it was recounted in exactly fifty words, which tells a story often recounted by me in the past and no doubt even more often to be repeated by me in the future.

A pregnant girl of eighteen – we even have her name, Marinetta Jirkowski – was shot dead by East German border guards while trying to escape to the West with two men. The two men survived, and got to freedom; Fräulein Jirkowski did neither, but fell dead with nine bullets in her.

[…]

We have supped full of horrors these past few decades, and the worst result of such a diet is not indigestion but loss of appetite. And yet it seems to me that even if we have to hold our noses and make a face as we swallow, sup we must. For what lies upon our plate is the knowledge that some things are evil – evil sans phrases – and that what was done to Marinetta Jirkowski is one of those things.

As you will have noted, Mr Levin had underestimated the number of bullets that struck Marinetta Jirkowski. Other than that his assessment was accurate.

Levin’s column continued,

And so I feel it necessary to bang my head against the wall again today, upon the strange death of Marinetta Jirkowski. I do not know how the filthy thing that killed her is to be destroyed, though I know that sooner or later it must be. I do know that there are people in this country who admire that thing, and wish it to rule us, too, and some of them are in our universities, and some in our press and television, and some in the councils of our trade union movement, and some in Parliament, and many of them hardly bother any longer to pretend that their beliefs are other than they are, which suggests that they think they are near their goal; and in so thinking they may well be right.

How strange it is to read those words in conjuction with Perry Metzger’s post above. The particular avatar of the filthy thing that killed Marinetta Jirkowski was nearer to its destruction than Levin had dared hope when he wrote that column. It is gone. But the intellectuals and the media “personalities” who admire it are still there. As Perry wrote,

There are, everywhere, professors who teach a Marxist interpretation of history, of literature, of economics and sociology, and not merely for some sort of historical perspective, but as an actual active ideology they would like their students to adopt. It is, indeed, an entirely ordinary sort of thing, so common it is not even worthy of note. There are people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts in the streets, never mind the people Guevara ruthlessly executed, including children, in the name of Marxism.

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21 comments to Before the Wall fell down

  • Pretty much. One of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve read in a long time.

    But then if the Times had its way, the Iron Curtain would still be standing.

  • Paul Marks

    The evil of Marxism is responsible for more than a hundred million murders – see the Black Book of Communism (and many other works).

    Yet this evil still lives on, for example under the names of Frankfurt School “Political Correctness” and “Critical Theory” – “critical” in the sense of pushing any lie about private property based Civil Society, and not allowing any critical examination of socialism.

    Indeed this evil dominates the schools and universities and the media (especially the entertainment media).

    And make no mistake, these evil followers of “Social Justice” (these envy filled haters of “the rich” and “big business”) would again cover the world with human blood – if they are given any chance to do so.

  • Mr Ed

    The late Bernard Levin did say that he wished to see General Jaruselski hanged in Warsaw for his crimes. Mr Levin implicitly repented his early Marxism.

    The Germans were far too kind to the Communists. That Indonesian General who helped put down the Maoists had a more pragmatic approach. ‘Do not shoot the Communists! Bullets are too good for them, use knives.’.

    For our younger and overseas readers, Mr Levin was a noted journalist in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s.

  • Regional

    Does anybody know of a reliable source that 1.7 million South Vietnamese perished at the hands of their liberators?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Regional,

    R.J. Rummel, the prof at the U. of Hawaii who is noted for his work on “democide” — the murder of people by their own government — had at some point a figure of 1,670,000 Vietnamese deaths, not broken out into South and North Vietnamese. This from a Reason obit for Dr. Rummel, who died March 2, 2014.

    http://reason.com/blog/2014/05/12/a-moment-for-the-late-rj-rummel-who-docu

    I have read criticisms of his numbers over the last several years, however, from both the left and the rest.

    Paul Bogdanor has a page entitled “Left-Wing Bloodbaths” with links to various documents, sorted according to country. You might take a look at the Vietnam section to see if anything there is helpful.

    http://www.paulbogdanor.com/left.html

    Actually, Mr. Bogdanor’s whole site is fascinating, consisting of articles on Leftism, Anti-Semitism, Israel, a page called “Left-Wing Deniers,” consisting of pieces that debunk Leftists’ claims of innocence, or defense of Leftist atrocities. (“Leftist” specifically includes Communists, by the way.) Lastly, there is the not-to-be-missed page called “The Chomsky Hoax.”

    Not in the mood to be smited tonight, so to get to the Home Page, naturally one just uses the URL above and deletes the ” left.html “.

    A few years ago I found a site that did a careful comparison and analysis of various figures given as the Communist death toll. Unfortunately the bookmark was lost when my HD crashed, and I haven’t been able to find it again. I realize that this information may not be entirely helpful. 🙁

  • Julie near Chicago

    Update: Dr. Rummel wrote a book called Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900. I did a Google search (my entire body protesting the whole time) on the string democide Vietnam (no quotes) that turned up results in the book, 79 of them, as presented by Google Books. Don’t know if that’s helpful or not.

    Results page:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=LFDWp7O9_dIC&pg=PA108&lpg=PA108&dq=democide+Vietnam&source=bl&ots=VWQaB6ByDN&sig=iLtVH7nFfpmnMaEf32u9hZAcaA8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1CFgVM-QOMWsyATlrYGIDQ&ved=0CEkQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=democide%20Vietnam&f=false

  • Julie near Chicago

    Update 2, sorry. 🙁

    Dr. Rummel has a page, “Statistics of Vietnamese Genocide and Mass Murder,” which is Chapter 6 of his book Statistics of Democide. Sources included.

    https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP6.HTM

    And here is a list of documents on the site:

    https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/LIST.HTM

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie, thank you very much for your posting. “Never forget” applies here also.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    And the header is wrong. The wall did not fall down- it was pushed! As soon as Putin discovers who knocked it down, they’ll be in serious trouble!

  • Regional

    Julie,
    Thankyou, I’ll place them on favourites to disseminate.
    Recently a defeated Labor Prime Minister eulogised by the Meeja has been raised to god status for helping handing the South Vietnamese over to the communists.

  • Laird

    The Berlin Wall is down, but the United States is busily engaged in building its own version.

    The Berlin Wall wasn’t originally a wall, just a barbed wire fence and a system of official travel passes (for the “protection” of the East Berlin residents, naturally). Gradually getting those passes became more and more difficult, and eventually they were essentially unobtainable. By 1961 the “wall” was a fortified security fence, and over the following years it became the increasingly impenetrable barricade we all knew. The Berlin Wall wasn’t so much built as it grew.

    Today, not only does the US spy on its own citizens everywhere in the world, it has gradually imposed stringent financial controls on us. Our ability hold wealth in a non-dollar form is in peril: we still have the right to own gold (although the US does have a history of gold confiscation), but Mordor-on-the-Potomac has turned its eye on crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, over which the Commodity Financial Trading Commission is now asserting regulatory jurisdiction. US citizens having financial assets outside of the country are required to file complicated and detailed reports with the government, with draconian penalties for non-compliance or even simple errors. Foreign banks holding the deposits of US citizens are required to comply with the US’s banking and tax laws, notwithstanding the absence of any US presence or any other jurisdictional basis. Taking any significant amount of cash out of the country, while perhaps not strictly “illegal” (yet), is fraught with peril (you will be interrogated and the likelihood of confiscation is high). Should you decide that you’ve had enough and want out, there is a large fee for merely applying to renounce your citizenship; the wait for approval is lengthy (the fact that one needs the government’s “approval” to leave tells you that they view us not as “citizens” but as “property”); and if you are successful you have to pay a huge exit fee, equivalent to several years’ worth of projected income taxes, to reimburse the government for its “loss” (obviously the government believes that is has a legitimate claim on all our future earnings; we are indeed “property”). The barriers to exit are becoming more substantial by the day.

    We don’t have a physical wall, but we have erected a high financial one. And if our border guards aren’t shooting defectors (yet), they are making life very difficult for them and have even subjected some to prison terms. Our methods are more sophisticated than were East Germany’s, but the end result is going to look very much the same.

  • Megan MRVT

    Should you decide that you’ve had enough and want out, there is a large fee for merely applying to renounce your citizenship; the wait for approval is lengthy (the fact that one needs the government’s “approval” to leave tells you that they view us not as “citizens” but as “property”);

    Yeah and so when I left for good 5 years ago, I said fuck that. I had been living in NZ for 10 years and then moved to Costa Rica. And after some business travel to various places, I finally got sick of the bullshit, having banks and financial services company (initially) and increasingly any company everywhere in the world going “OMFG you are American!” as if I was radioactive, all because of the bullshit compliance costs I represented.

    I went to the US embassy in San José, said bye bye, gave them my passport and told them not to bother writing to me as I already had enough toilet paper, thanks. And as I have no assets in the USA, good luck getting a goddamn penny out of me ever again so: adiós muchachos. As long as you are already out, have a non-US passport in hand, and have zero intention of ever going back, there is not a whole shitload they can do about it. It does not take two for this particular tango. Pay to expatriate? Yeah right.

  • Mr Ed

    We don’t have a physical wall, but we have erected a high financial one.

    When Socialism is done properly, no one has anything to tax, lose, bribe with or plain steal, so the physical barriers become ‘necessary’.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    Gee, Laird, when are you going to issue a new Declaration of Independence? This could be one of your complaints against Imperial Washington! Come to think of it, us Australians could do the same, claiming America wants to be an empire without calling it that.

  • Laird

    Megan, good for you. If you already have a non-US passport, and if you don’t have assets in the US, that might work today. But I’m not sure, because it’s no longer just your assets that are at risk, but those of the bank with which you are dealing. FATCA is a new law; it didn’t exist 5 years ago. Every major bank in the world has now acceded to it, and as far as I know all western countries (and most others as well) have treaties with the US which basically require them to do so.

    Anyway, that doesn’t affect my main point: even if a few individuals such as you have managed to slip out of its clutches (and, as I said, good for you), the US has nonetheless erected a financial Berlin Wall around the US, and those of us still here are its hostages.

  • Julie near Chicago

    You’re welcome, Regional. :>)

    If I ever find the other page, I’ll put in a (probably-O/T) comment when our paths cross.

  • James G.

    Congrats, Megan.

    I did the same a couple of years ago. And if anyone has any doubts about the USG’s intentions, the fee for renouncing citizenship has quadrupled this year to $2350. Although you will probably see ROI for that within a year or two, on the legal fees you save paying tax lawyers to ensure you’ve properly filled out the 80+ pages of reporting you are now required to do.

    They are trying to make it impossible to have an economic life outside the US. And if you do have significant assets (thank God I don’t) there is an exit tax (much as the Nazis offered Jews or the Soviets offered their chattel) of, ISTR, 30 percent of the value of those assets.

    Land of the free…my ass.

  • DP

    Dear Miss Solent

    Socialism is slavery.

    DP

  • Julie near Chicago

    Regional, and others who are still fighting the Communists in Viet Nam and elsewhere:

    Once again let me recommend Robert F. Turner’s book Vietnamese Communism. Prof. Turner, J.D., is co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the U. of Virginia Law School. He did two tours in the Army in V-N during the war. The book begins at the beginning (if there is such a thing), with Ho’s conversion to Communism in France as a student there. He went on to training in Moscow, and spent time doing the Kremlin’s bidding in China….

    The book is long out of print, but I think there are still used copies available through Amazon or Abebooks.

    . . .

    Off the subject of V-N, but still most interesting, is Dr. Rummel’s update on Chinese-Communist democide. Specifically, he had believed that the Great Famine was the result of Mao’s having been misled. Subsequently he changed his mind in view of the testimony of people he trusted. (In particular he names Chang and Halliday’s book Mao: The Untold Story, which has also been recommended by Samizdatista Paul Marks.)

    He explains in detail on his page

    http://www.ciolek.com/SPEC/rummel-on-democide-2005.html,

    from which this excerpt is taken:

    I have to change all the world democide totals that populate my websites, blogs, and publications. The total for the communist democide before and after Mao took over the mainland is thus 3,446,000 + 35,226,000 + 38,000,000 = 76,692,000, or to round off, 77,000,000 murdered. This is now in line with the 65 million toll estimated for China in the Black Book of Communism, and Chang and Halliday’s estimate of “well over 70 million.”

    This exceeds the 61,911,000 murdered by the Soviet Union 1917-1987, with Hitler far behind at 20,946,000 wiped out 1933-1945.

    For perspective on Mao’s most bloody rule, all wars 1900-1987 cost in combat dead 34,021,000 — including WWI and II, Vietnam, Korea, and the Mexican and Russian Revolutions. Mao alone murdered over twice as many as were killed in combat in all these wars.

  • Paul Marks

    Those in the media (especially the entertainment media) and academia (the schools and universities) who pretend that the Soviet Union and Mao’s China (and so on) were not “really” socialist, or that “Political Correctness” and “Critical Theory” are not “really” disguised Marxism (“cultural” or other) are vermin.