Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!

June 12, 1987

As World War II ended, Germany was left with four different powers in charge. The United States, the UK, France, and the Soviet Union. The country itself was split by these occupations, as was the city of Berlin. Post-war plans included a path to self-sufficiency on the part of the Germans; however, the Soviets were not interested in complying with this agreement. Stalin’s basic idea was to wait it out while the British and the Americans slowly left Germany, which would then leave nothing to stand in the way for communism to take over.

Over the course of the late 40’s and throughout the 50’s, the grip on East Berlin tightened. The German Democratic Republic (GDR) was officially formed in 1949, a secret treaty was signed (not so secret once the Soviets gained full control over things) and East Germans began emigrating toward the west. Tens of thousands of East Germans left each year; by 1953 that number reached over 300,000, and by 1961 the total was around 3.5 million.

Measures were put into place to reduce the numbers leaving; of particular concern to the Soviets was the fact that the majority of emigrants were well-educated. East Berlin was losing engineers, scientists, teachers, doctors and lawyers. As much as the Soviets wanted to completely close off the GDR, they had a major problem. They needed a way for the railways to bypass West Berlin altogether. Construction began on a new rail system in the early 50’s, and upon it’s completion in 1961, Khrushchev agreed with the Ulbricht (GDR Council Chairman) that borders should be closed and construction of a wall should begin.

The Wall itself moved through four phases, first being made of wire, then having major improvements constructed for a more reinforced wire fence. Concrete was added in 1965, and the final version, complete with watchtowers, beds of nails, anti-vehicle trenches and watch dogs was built in 1975. Somewhere around 5,000 people managed to defect from East Germany during the decades of the Berlin Wall. Numbers of those who were killed trying to escape are unclear, though range between 100 and 150.

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech that is remembered today within the ranks of the greatest presidential speeches. While in West Berlin, President Reagan addressed the plight of the East Berliners, asked for “change and openness,” and challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to end the era of the Iron Curtain

“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
~Ronald Reagan, from the speech at the Brandenburg Gate, June 12, 1987.

By the end of 1989, East Berlin issued a decree for the gates to be opened. Families who had been separated for decades were reunited and travel between East and West Berlin was free to take place. By the end of 1990, the Wall was torn down altogether and the end of communism in Eastern Europe opened the door for a brand new era.

Jägerschnitzel

Schnitzel:
8 3-ounce boneless pork loins
Salt and pepper
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mushroom Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups sliced mushrooms, a mixture of button and chanterelle
1 small onion, chopped
2 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
Leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Dash dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Pound pork loin to about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick – but not paper thin – between two sheets of plastic wrap. Season with salt and pepper. Beat eggs in a bowl. Dust pork with flour on both sides. Dip in beaten eggs. Coat with breadcrumbs, patting them to ensure they stick. Refrigerate.

Make sauce: Heat butter and onions in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, herbs, red wine and beef broth. Simmer until sauce is reduced by half. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat vegetable oil in a large fry pan. Carefully add pork and fry on high heat, using a screen to prevent splattering. Turn and continue frying just until both sides are golden brown. Remove to paper towels. Drizzle with mushroom sauce and serve immediately. Serves 4.

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