In the inaugural Foreign Policy Essay, Brookings Senior Fellow Constanze StelzenmÃ¼ller reflects on the toppling of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago and the lessons that were in store for her, her fellow Germans, Europe, and the world.
She writes that for her generation, the fall of the wall was a miracle, a mostly "unearned gift ... that we have tried, for the past three decades, to understand and live up to as it unfolded around us." Today, she argues, "that seems more urgent than ever: with a White House bent on disrupting the post-Cold War order, a surging China asserting itself as a power player in the trans-Atlantic space, a Russian president crowing that the liberal idea 'has outlived its purpose,' and a deeply divided and fearful Europe looking at a proxy war in Ukraine and growing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. Populism is rocking Western societies everywhere. In Germany, the hard right calls the country's constitutional order 'illegitimate.' Walls, it seems, are making a worldwide comeback."
From a euphoric national family reunion in 1989 to ongoing divisions and a populist resurgence across Germany and Europe today, read what the toppling of the wall can ultimately teach us about war and peace, prosperity and inequality, and democracy and transformation.
For those in the Washington, DC area, register to attend
the related event, "Europe 1989-2019: Lessons learned 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall," on November 12 at The Brookings Institution.