Our Century

Knocking down the Berlin Wall

Mark Pugh
Born 1975

Mark Pugh

"As a 14-year-old, when someone politely asks if you'd care to knock down part of a wall, you would immediately thing of 1,000 other things you'd rather be doing. A hammer and a chisel are hardly top of the list when when it comes to the average teenager's idea of a fun-packed afternoon.

"But this time it was different. It was a chance to have a crack at the Berlin Wall.

"As a youngster in 1990 taking part in a football tour of the then West Germany, I had heard the stories about the war, about great divisions and, of course, about the wall itself.

"The Berlin Wall was built in 1961, first in barbed wire and later with concrete, to separate West Berlin from the East and the Cold War threatened to erupt into nuclear war. Stretching 28.5 miles, it was designed to stop the exodus of people flooding into the western part of the city. It separated families and even cut through homes. When it was completed it stood as a sign of segregation.

"In November 1989, after protests throughout the city, it was decided that the wall should come down. So, six months later, I did not expect the wall still to be the centrepoint of a city bearing the scars of isolation. I found myself with about 14 of my peers looking at a construction so basic, yet so significant. It was like nothing I had seen before.

"It was covered in graffiti and extremely grubby. People were queuing to buy pieces from unscrupulous salesmen, selling a memento symbolising a newly-found freedom.

In turn, we all knocked our own chunk out of the Berlin Wall."