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Germans rejoiced with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 because it signaled the reunion of East and West Berlin. East Germany's communist leadership eventually gave in to local and international pressure to lift the physical and legal barriers preventing citizens from moving freely between the two halves of the city. The Miracle of Berlin, a film by Roland Suso Richter, and Herr Lehmann, a Leander Haußmann production, both depict the crumbling of the wall. The characters' responses to the news of the wall's collapse, however, differ across the two movies. While the film The Miracle of Berlin portrays the fall of the wall as significant to the East Berlin citizens, the West Berlin citizens in the film Herr Lehmann show minimal concern to the news of the fall. The lives of the characters in The Miracle of Berlin revolve around the events leading to the collapse of the wall, while the political happenings in Germany barely affect the West Berlin characters’ lives in Herr Lehmann.
The different reactions to the fall of the Berlin Wall were an upshot of the impact the wall had on the East and the West. The East Berlin citizens had experienced the restrictions imposed by the communist regime which hindered them from economic prosperity. There was frequent reporting of massive migration of people from East Berlin to West Berlin in search of employment. The communist government placed military guards along the wall to prevent the cross-wall movement. For example, one of the main characters in The Miracle of Berlin, Marco Kaiser, was posted to guard at the wall after his military training. The celebration from the East Berlin citizens after the fall of the wall portrayed the importance of freedom of movement. Marco and his girlfriend, Anja Ahrendt, are seen celebrating the wall’s fall. The minimal concern shown by the West Berlin citizens is attributed to their ignorance and indifference to the impact of the wall. For example, the main character Herr Lehmann, Frank Lehmann, was reported to be celebrating his thirtieth birthday when news on the fall was aired. This birthday celebration translates to less than 5 years old in Lehmann’s age when the construction of the wall was done. Consequently, he grew up in the existence of the wall without the knowledge of the separations the wall caused to families, friends, and colleagues. After a woman’s announcement that the Berlin Wall was opened, the visitors in the bar where Lehmann was engaging in a drinking spree pay little attention to her. The reluctance Lehmann renders to the suggestion of going out of the bar to observe the current turn of events reveals that his interest lies more in the beer drinking that the fall of the wall. The wall’s contribution to his life was minute compared to the beer.
The Berlin Wall received two contradictory perceptions from the East and West Germans. The West Germans identified the wall as a center of art and drew graffiti along the lengths of the wall. Arguably, many artists expressed their emotions through paintings on the wall were a reflection of their lives. When Lehmann goes out of the bar to experience the current affairs, the walls from the West side are seen covered with graffiti with diverse messages. The East Berlin side viewed the wall as an obstacle that curtailed their movement to the West. The command to line up military guards along the wall magnified the oppression the East Germans were going through under the communist regime. The East Germans believed that the demolition of the wall would bring liberation. After Anja and Hanna, Marco’s mother, joined the New Front Party that was against communism, they participated in anti-communism protests at the Berlin Wall.
The period preceding the fall of the wall was marked with mistrust and suspicion on the East Berlin side and transparency on the West Berlin side. The intertwining of the political events with the film storyline in The Miracle of Berlin created enormous suspicion among the characters. This suspicion resulted from the Cold War that existed between the communists and the capitalists. The story in this film occurs a few years before the collapse of the communist rule in the Soviet-controlled East Germany when tension was high as the capitalists sought to end communism. Jurgen Kaiser, the father of Marco Kaiser, suspected that Anja Ahrendt was a spy from Chile sent to investigate him and his son. Anja was made to believe that she was orphaned after her mother died in a road accident. The whereabouts of her father remained a mystery until she was later informed by a secret police woman, Marion, that her father was alive. Anja suspected she was lying because she was in the secret police service named Stasi. In the film Herr Lehmann, there were minimal occurrences of suspicious motives. The characters were honest with one another. When Lehmann’s girlfriend found an apparent better partner, she dumps him without hiding her intentions.
Conclusively, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a great relief to the East Germans since it restricted their movement. The West German felt little impact of the fall due to its insignificant contribution to their daily lives. The fall of the wall was celebrated attributable to the unification of the country, families, and friends.
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