Somewhere in the former DDR's files there's a note about an American student whose passport was stolen in Jena about 6 months before the wall came down, and probably my picture, taken by a disgruntled photographer working late on a Saturday afternoon so I could get a new ID and go back across the border with my fellow exchange students. The inside of the East German police station in Erfurt was as dismal a place as I have ever been.
That was June 1989, and you would never have known what was coming. I completely believe that November 9 was like that scene in The Lives of Others, when one guy listening to the radio turns to the others and says, "The wall is open," and they all simply stop steaming envelopes and walk away from their Stasi jobs.
So, if you're wondering how to celebrate 20 years of the Berlin wall coming down, here are three great movies (all German):
1. The Lives of Others, for a heat-wrenching, all too real version of the oppression that was endured
2. Good-bye Lenin, for a funny and also quite poignant view of the generation gap produced by how fast the changes came
3. And, though I don't believe it was ever released in the U. S., an East German film from the late 80's entitled Einer Trage des Anderen Last -- Bear One Anothers' Burdens -- about a devout Communist and a young Lutheran pastor whose lives intersect in a tuberculosis sanitorium. It was simply a beautiful film.