By guest reviewer, Nick Marx
In the feature-length special, RISE AND FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL, HISTORY™ uses computer imagery to reconstruct how the wall grew from a meager obstacle to a mighty barrier of seven concentric walls with ditches, fences, signal wires, tank-traps and a flood-lit death strip patrolled by half-starved dogs – a nearly impenetrable barricade with a 96-mile circumference, 200-plus bunkers and 302 watchtowers. Featuring firsthand accounts from the people who tried to escape this “Wall of Death” by any means possible, including tunnels, hot air balloons, wind surfing boats, bi-planes and a cable railway, the program contains additional interviews with the security officials who designed the wall and Stasi men who protected it, border guards, politicians, historians and journalists help to breathe life into the Cold War icon whose demise, beginning on November 9, 1989, signaled the start of one of history’s most dramatic political transformations.
Shows like Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall are made for people like me. Granted I studied History and focused on socialism but even before that I would have been all over this show. Not only do you get to see a digital re-creation of the evolution of the wall you get to hear the stories of the people who escaped over (and under) it.
The story of the Berlin Wall is interesting, everyone knows about it but how many people actually know when it sprang up and who let it happen? I didn’t, and I spent a decent amount of time in college studying Post-War Europe. It happened on Kennedy’s watch, and under the direction of one of recent history’s biggest jerks, Erich Honecker. It grew more intimidating and effective every year from its erection in 1961 to its destruction in 1989. This special gives you a brief rundown of how The Wall came to be and the causes for it and all the while shows you the bad ass people with the guts to take it on.
I loved seeing the evolution of The Wall and the digital effects are well done, but more than that I loved hearing the stories of the people who gave up everything they had to cross it. The guy who stole an Armored Personnel Carrier to bust through and crawl through the barbed wire, certified bad ass. The family that used a hastily built hot air balloon to fly over (took them 2 tries), a whole family of bad assery. However, the title for the most bad ass Germans to take on the wall goes to the Bethkes. These 3 brothers took on the wall multiple times, and in the end flew 2 Ultralight planes over the damn thing to scoop their brother up from the East and fly him to the West, and it only took them about 20 minutes, and they made sure to strap a video camera to the planes.
Basically if you have any interest in the Iron Curtain, Germany, or Post-War Europe, pick up this DVD. Its 90 minutes of entertainment and great stories.
Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall from HISTORY is available now on DVD!
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If you can’t find this title locally, it is available on Amazon.com.
Guest Reviewer, Nick Marx, is a Founding Contributor for the Salt Lake City-based Nerd News & Reviews site, “Big Shiny Robot!“, and he graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in History.
You can follow Nick on Twitter @proletariatron!
Tyson Huber welcomes comments, recommendations, suggestions, etc. Email him directly at [email protected], follow him on Twitter @tysonhuber, become a fan on Facebook or visit him at the nerd news and reviews site, Big Shiny Robot!