David Mills, Department of Military History, Command and General Staff College, talks about the history leading up to the building of the Berlin Wall and how some residents tried to get around it during his Berlin Wall Remembrance Day presentation Nov. 9 in Marshall Lecture Hall at the Lewis and Clark Center. After his lecture, Mills and audience members walked to see the Berlin Wall Monument outside the building near Smith Lake. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Charlotte Richter | Staff Writer

Dr. David Mills, Department of Military History, Command and General Staff College,
began his Berlin Wall Remembrance Day presentation with a photograph of himself and an East German border guard facing each other to shake hands through a crack in the Berlin Wall.


“This photo was taken in mid-December of 1989,” Mills said. At the time, he was in Berlin
to visit friends in the Berlin Brigade. Mills was the guest speaker for the Army University program to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

David Mills, Department of Military History, Command and General Staff College, shares a 1989 photo of him shaking an East German guard’s hand through the Berlin Wall during his Berlin Wall Remembrance Day presentation Nov. 9 in Marshall Lecture Hall at the Lewis and Clark Center. After his lecture, Mills and audience members walked to see the Berlin Wall Monument outside the building near Smith Lake. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


He spoke to a small crowd in Marshall Lecture Hall and via a video feed on Facebook Nov. 9. He recounted the history of Germany’s division following World War II, including the political, economic and social differences in East and West Germany, and ultimately the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall.


During the Cold War, the Soviet Union occupied East Germany and allied nations occu-pied West Germany. Following disparities between East and West German economies and governance, the East German government initiated the Berlin Blockade from June 1948 to May 1949.


During the blockade, West German territories received air support from their occupying influences. In 1952 East Germany began building a border to reduce the number of refugees moving west through the region, Mills explained.


The Berlin crisis worsened as the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union grew more hostile, Mills said, and more refugees fled East Germany. The East German government mobilized border security through checkpoints and built the Berlin Wall in 1961.


After 28 years of escape and protest, the East German government announced at a press conference the removal of restrictions for transportation between the borders on
Nov. 9, 1989.

David Mills, Department of Military History, Command and General Staff College, talks about the history leading up to the building of the Berlin Wall and how some residents tried to get around it during his Berlin Wall Remembrance Day presentation Nov. 9 in Marshall Lecture Hall at the Lewis and Clark Center. After his lecture, Mills and audience members walked to see the Berlin Wall Monument outside the building near Smith Lake. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Army University invited attendees to walk to the Berlin Wall Monument, located outside the Lewis and Clark Center near Smith Lake, to reflect on the event.


According to “The People Behind The Names” by Quentin Schillare, the American commandant for Berlin, Maj. Gen. Raymond Haddock, gave the three graffiti-covered concrete Berlin Wall segments used in the monument to President Ronald Reagan Sept. 10, 1990, who later gave them to CGSC.


“What a tremendous time where we’re watching history unfold, but time keeps marching forward, and do we really remember that? And do we understand the monumental
or momentous points for what they really are?” Mills said.


“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I’m glad that I was there for it. (It was) just kind of by luck someone took that photograph and it lead to this.”

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