Tags / Former Soviet Union
Photos by Alexey Volosevich.
Moynaq used to be the biggest port on the Aral Sea, now the site of one of the biggest ecological disasters of the last half-century. Our contributor looks into the state of the sea, and the affect the sea's disappearance is having on a local population that once hosted a thriving fishing industry.
Three pivotal diplomats active during the period of the Cold War's end meet once again in Leipzig in honor of its 25th anniversary; left-right, former German Foreign Minister Hans Dieter Genscher with U.S. Secretaries James Baker and Henry Kissinger.
German President Joachim Gauck (right) demonstrates mimeograph machine used during 1989 Leipzig protests before anniversary ceremonies at Nikolai Church. The building served as the organizational nexus for massive protest movements that ultimately helped topple the communist era in late 1989 leading towards German reunification one year later on 3 October 1990.
Leipzig, Germany commemorates its 25th anniversary for the peaceful revolution of 1989 when initial mass protests catapulted towards opening of the Berlin Wall one month later.
Symbols of current international hegemony represented by the flags of the European Union, USA and Germany seen during ceremonies of a symbolic signatory for the Berlin Wall opening.
Former US Secretary James Baker was the honored guest for a signature ceremony featuring a Berlin Wall section which included esteemed colleagues from this historic period.
Germany and particularly the city of Berlin celebrates the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall on 09 November next month, also marking the passage of the first generation which has experienced a post-Soviet world since the post-war years of the mid-twentieth century. An acute reminder of this situation occurred recently during earlier October celebrations in Leipzig, which is now a thriving city in former East Germany. It was here that initial protests in late 1989 helped accelerate the demise of the then totalitarian government and an ultimate opening of the Berlin Wall just weeks later.
Now it is often possible to meet "Wende Kinder," or children-currently young adults- from the turning point or changing times; those born from 1989 and immediately afterwards with no personal memory of the Berlin Wall or Soviet-directed period before that. It is a cultural phenomenon that arises as history becomes respective to its living members who can reflect on collective circumstance. It also becomes an indicator as to how the passage of time can and will affect all of us, now living through the early 21st century together, towards the future's future. Paralleling this historic period compels the comparison towards current events and Russian resurgence onto the global stage of attempted hegemony 25 years later, and urges the premise to question if history repeats through adjusted phases.
As a result of German reunification over two decades later, initial promises have predominantly not been met for a thriving eastern Germany due to disparity in employment opportunities which led to large population migrations to the more prosperous West. Additionally, contrasts in national character between both East and West have contributed to each region retaining their unique identities. Essentially, due to the extended simultaneous reign of the two differing German cultures, fundamental differences still outweigh the similarities. Yet, according to an Interior Ministry Report on German Unity released in 2013, despite the national contrasts, eastern Germany is improving in several ways and remains attractive for its returning inhabitants, signaling an appeal towards their origins despite persistent yet slowly improving economic inequalities.
It remains questionable if the social experiment to reunify Germany has become a reasonable success as a consensus about political assurances made a quarter of a century earlier have so far not been able to be fully achieved. A nostalgic movement has also arisen in several locations, longing for the "Ostalgie" of former times while also enhancing a merchandising appeal for the German tourism industry. The prevailing mood within Berlin and beyond during November's historic occasion will underscore the actual and speculative factors driving the world's fourth largest economy, while reflecting on whether or not the bridge between the East and West might ever occur.
East German-Western 1960s period symbology including 20 year commemorative GDR (German Democratic Republic) Soviet issued envelope,1969.
GDR (German Democratic Republic) 40 year anniversary symbol with period postcards and news clipping of the era. Berlin Wall will open one month after this anniversary passes marking the end of the country's existence.
Former East-West Berlin Wall border demarcation, These identifiers are all that remain throughout the city besides certain remnants remaining as tributary reminders of an extraordinary history within the country within a relatively short period.
Rapid construction on a grand scale appeared rampant throughout the new Berlin during the 1990s period, depicted here with the rise of the new Reichstag German parliament during summer of 1998.
As Western product placement enveloped a formerly unapproachable part of the world soon after the opening of the Berlin Wall and subsequent reunification of Germany, contrasts arose as one social structure overtook another. A young family is pressed against the dynamics of a disappearing social safety net as the seeming attraction of consumerism with uncertain economic variables coincide. Certainly at the onset, the psychological need for incentive to thrive became a formidable challenge within the context of an entire country that had not previously engaged that system. Twenty five years later, eastern Germany has still not recovered from the promises of Western unification.
In southeast Germany, Gorlitz borders Poland and in 1990 remained untouched and forgotten both during the war and for decades since, providing an eerie impression of the country's neglected infrastructure. Today it is fully modernized and renovated.
Tile mural of propagandized East German Socialist benefits remained in East Berlin before Western consumerism values supplanted the new implemented direction.
Dismantled sections of the Berlin Wall during pre-reunification summer of 1990; former East Berlin, Germany.
A collision of time periods and cultures arose within former East Berlin in summer 1990 during a short transition between not yet dismantled sections of the Berlin Wall positioned near newly introduced Western advertisement billboards. German reunification would occur on 3 October later that year.
Evident replacement of consumer tastes appears in humorous advertisement depicting post-Soviet era passage towards assimilated Western values.
The Brandenburg Gate had an historic opening on 23 December 1989 ending 28 years of barbed wire seclusion positioned between the main borders of East and West Germany. Today it is a thriving international symbol and meeting point.
Weekly Monday night protests throughout late 1989 in Leipzig became infamous across former East Germany as a specter that the communist government had only weeks remaining before the Berlin Wall would ultimately open on 9 November. Leipzig held several 25th anniversary commemoration events during October 2014.
Berlin Wall with still occupied sentry tower 3-4 weeks after opening; seen from within East Berlin, early December 1989.
Lignite coal miner in central GDR; once considered the most polluted region in Eastern Europe, Bitterfeld, Germany today has become a region for solar energy development plus tourism; December 1989.
Time seemed to stop in former East Germany before the opening of the Berlin Wall occurred which abruptly opened the borders to the Western world of commerce. The impenetrable barriers between then Soviet central command ideologies against free market values extended between 1961-1989 when the wall was unexpectedly erected on 13 August 1961 then modified over a 28 year period until its final breach on 9 November 1989.
Berlin Wall with still patrolled though no longer enforced death strip one month after opening; immediately seen from outside Western border looking into Eastern sector, early December 1989.
Berlin Wall, East Berlin, 1983; six years before its historic dismantling.