Flashback: When Reason Tore Down the Berlin Wall


As the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, let's enjoy a little trip in the Reason wayback machine: 

These photos come courtesy of Lou Villadsen, wife of Reason founder (and current Reason Foundation director of transportation policy) Bob Poole, who recounts the events that led up to Reasoners taking mallet and chisel to the newly vulnerable Berlin Wall:

When the Wall came down, we were already planning our first trip to Germany for the Mont Pelerin Society meeting in Munich (1990), including visiting Berlin and other places. We assumed we'd have to jump through whatever hoops required to visit East Berlin. So it was luck that we had the opportunity to bring home our own pieces of the Wall.

When we arrived in Berlin—no longer the Divided City—we discovered that people were cutting pieces off the Wall, so of course we stopped at a local hardware store and bought a chisel and mallet, found a convenient spot and Bob started chopping. (I took a couple of swings of the mallet just to say I'd done it, but he did all the work.) We ended up with a gallon Ziploc bag of chunks of concrete, which we then lugged all over Germany. 

This was the day we'd planned for our East Berlin visit, hence the carefully-chosen shirts. There were still Russian military all over East Berlin and the division (quality of life) was still stark. We ate lunch in a hamburger place in East Berlin. Well, they called what we ate "hamburger" but I think it was mostly sawdust.

We also rented a car and drove around in East Germany for a day, at the end hoping that we would make it back across to the West before the gas tank was empty—there simply were no places to get gas, even on the main highways. Few things have looked as good to me as the huge service station just over the border: fuel for us and the car, and clean restrooms. 

Bob Poole chimes in with a helpful note for those who covet his sharp duds:

The shirt I wore, from the San Diego libertarian group, was worn by people who played a game called "Over the Line." I have no idea what the game consisted of.

For more on the Berlin Wall anniversary, check out Anthony Fisher's videos on this week's festivites in Germany: