Friday, January 28, 2022

New World Disorder

One of the prize artifacts of the Museum is a section of the Berlin Wall, given to Canada in 1991 after the government hosted a meeting of foreign ministers from various countries to sort out the reunification of Germany. The graffiti tags are from the West Berlin side. The East Berlin side is blank. What always strikes me about it is how thin it is. 

The Fall of the Wall is one of those momentous times of history. During the extraordinary fall of 1989 when so much was happening, this episode seemed to reflect hope and possibility: the end of the Cold War.

The first President Bush and Soviet president Gorbachev were able to bring things to a close, and Bush spoke of a new world order: freedom, justice, and peace.

Things didn't quite turn out that way.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein sent Iraqi forces into the neighbouring Kuwait in a full scale invasion and land grab. Bush skillfully built a multi-national coalition to push back the invasion and liberate Kuwait. The result was the Persian Gulf War, with Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In my opinion, it was a justified war, and one that was carried out nearly perfectly. In hindsight, it probably would have been better to have taken out Hussein back then, but as they say, hindsight is 2020.

Canadian forces were part of that coalition, primarily naval and air assets.

Canadian fighters flew out of a base in Qatar. They brought a crest back from the Gulf War with their signatures on it. It's displayed here.

In my section on the Korean War, I mentioned Ted Zuber, who painted his vivid memories of fighting there into paintings. He went to the Gulf as a commissioned war artist and painted more, embedded with Canadian forces. This is Night Run.

Another artifact of the time: a sign post from the Qatar base bearing the home towns of Canadians.

Canadians would have other missions as the 1990s went on. The darkest one would be in Rwanda, where Canadians were embedded as peacekeepers, and where a Canadian general in charge of the operation would be ignored by the UN, and could only bear witness to genocide.


  1. I certainly remember especially the fall of the wall, which happened due to a "mistake"!I remember all the Trabis coming in, West Germans put chocolate and bananas behind the wipers as welcome, it sure was something.
    Driving became dangerous for us with the slow Trabis...
    Yes, the wall is thin. They had other stuff to scare off people.

  2. I remember watching on TV the Berlin Wall being brought down. It was something emotional.

  3. Hello,
    I remember the wall coming down. There will always be peacekeeping work to be done.
    Take care, enjoy your day! Have a happy weekend!

  4. It is thin! Wow. Sometimes our chains are weak.

  5. There is a true irony that one US president urged the removal of a wall and another did his level best to build one.

  6. @Iris: quite a mistake!

    @Italiafinlandia: quite so.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Eileen: that stays with you.

    @Sandi: you thought of it as very thick.

    @David: quite ironic.

  7. ...the world never seems to run out of disorders!

  8. How cool to have a piece of that wall, but too bad that conflicts continue. I wonder how the Russia-Ukraine thing will end.

  9. The thin wall might be thin in that section. Photos I have seen appear to show thicker sections.

  10. The thickness of the wall not important but the fear that it generated was phenomenal.

  11. I remember the wall coming down too. It is amazingly thin.

  12. I remember hearing about the wall coming down.

  13. I saw a section of the Berlin Wall several years ago at a museum in Washington D.C. It is interesting to see it's size and how one side is painted and the other not. That alone says a lot.

  14. I remember seeing news clips of the wall being taken down. Amazing that its been over 30 years ago.

  15. Truly a historical moment ~ the wall coming down ~ great display and photos and wall does look rather thin.

    Wishing you lots of laughter in your day,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  16. I well remember when the wall came down. It was momentous then, and still today.

  17. That's funny you mention how thin it is. I saw a piece of the wall similar to the one you shared here and I thought the same thing. I was surprised it hadn't been breached.

  18. @Tom: so it seems.

    @anvilcloud: me too.

    @Maywyn: it wouldn't surprise me that location dictated thickness.

    @magiceye: that is true.

    @RedPat: very much so.

  19. @Nancy: it changed so much.

    @Sharon: no tagger would have lived to tag the east side.

    @Bill: things change.

    @Carol: thank you.

    @DJan: definitely.

    @Jeanie: sledgehammers aren't a match for guards with machine guns.

  20. I watched the wall coming down on TV!. My company hired two young people who escaped over the wall. Actually through barbed wire, and a wall.

  21. Incredible how thin the wall was.

  22. I've never understood the constant need for war, just so many ways to kill people.

  23. I remember watching the wall being taken down, I didn't realise then how thin it was:)

    1. It only ends up looking that way when you're close to it.

  24. I have visited Berlin in 1978. We passed the Berlin Wall two times to visit the east side. Eleven years before the fall of the wall, both times it was an exciting affair.

  25. Yes, there are so many aspects to the old Berlin wall, I was there before it came down, and honestly the most haunting thing was seeing at what they called Checkpoint Charlie was the tall tower (reminded me of a hunting post here in America) and the armed German guards inside and walking about. Just a child there with my mother and my father's words warning us before we visited the wall was, do not go to the Eastside they probably won't let you return!