9 November 2009
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today attended a commemoration ceremony marking the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The ceremony took place at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa, where a piece of the Wall is on public display.
"The point of no return was reached 20 years ago today, on November 9, 1989. That is when, with the world watching, thousands of Germans from the east poured across a border that would soon cease to exist. They chose with their feet the principles long upheld by Canada and our allies, embracing freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law," said the Prime Minister. "Border guards at first uncertain in the face of so many, became unwilling, and were quickly unable, to stop them. The life had gone out of the communist system."
For almost thirty years, the Berlin Wall separated East Germany from West Germany, a tangible symbol of the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. On November 9, 1989, the government of the former German Democratic Republic announced that travel restrictions had been lifted and that citizens could visit West Germany. In the following weeks and months, citizens began tearing down the concrete division and poured across the border, escaping Communism and finding freedom.
Prime Minister Harper used the occasion today to announce that the section of the Wall housed at the Government Conference Centre since 1991 will be moved to the Canadian War Museum. It will be made available for public viewing.
"I am pleased to announce that this section of the Berlin Wall will be relocated to the Canadian War Museum as an important relic of the Cold War," said the Prime Minister. "There, it will honour the men and women of the Canadian Forces who served during that confrontation. It will also complement the memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism, planned for the capital region by Tribute to Liberty."
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, is participating in the Berlin Wall Commemoration Ceremony today. This ceremony will mark the 20th Anniversary since the Wall came down. The Canadian Forces (CF) were stationed in Germany for 40 years during the Cold War, with nearly one million CF members and their families stationed in Germany during that period. The heavily-guarded Wall separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989.