Veterans – History in The Making … 3
On 12th June 1982, US President Ronald Reagen stood almost directly in front of the closed-off Brandenburg Gate to give a speech. Part of his speech included a plea to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, when he said ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’
The Berlin Wall had been in place since 1961 and did finally come down in November 1989.
Many of us will remember Berlin in both its current free existence and when the wall was in place. There are no-doubt many Berlin veterans in our group, including myself. We would like to hear from you about your experiences in the City and particularly in November 1989 if you were there.
But the Berlin Wall was a sign of the Cold war. Never really a war but one which lasted from 1948 right up until 1990 and one that many of us veterans would have experienced first-hand at one time or another.
5th June 1945 saw the signing of the Berlin Treaty bringing about the dissolution of Nazi Germany. Supreme authority for Germany was split between Britain, France, US and Russia. But whereas the Western allies demobilised their forces Russia increased theirs by some 4 million soldiers between 1945 and 1950. Russia created a border to enclose their sector, in effect creating an East and West with Germany, with Berlin sitting within the East sector.
On 24th June 1948 the Berlin blockade started when Russia attempted to close or control all routes into Berlin. The only route they could not control was air, and the Berlin airlift came into being with British and other nations civilian and military aircraft flying supplies into the West side of the city, whilst rescuing those occupants that desired to leave.
Of course for veterans over the last 40 years the biggest change to all three services came in 1990 with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and in effect an end to the Cold War. Up until then for soldiers like me, based in Germany, the enemy was the Russians. But with the Cold War over the Government assumed there was no common enemy to fight and as such ordered the reduction in numbers for all services. I remember the Army was cut during 1991-94 from around 135,000 down to below 100,000. I also remember this was done either through natural wastage (a horrible term for people leaving a job!), voluntary redundancy or forced redundancy, thus creating veterans, many of whom had no desire to leave.
At that time there were very few computers and certainly no social media, nor many support groups like this one, to support veterans in need of support.
But we are here now so if you need assistance, ask for it.