The last time someone built a wall…

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ — Robert Frost, Mending Wall

Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about walls lately. Specifically, there’s been a lot of talk about President Donald J. Trump’s wall. You know. The one he wants to build along the border with Mexico. Yeah. That wall.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

According to published reports, it wouldn’t actually be a “wall.” It would be “a series of fences and walls.” Depending on what you choose to believe, it would cost anywhere from $12 billion (the figure given by Trump before he was elected) to more than $21 billion (the figure quoted in a “U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report”). Then again, it might only cost $15 billion (the figure provided by Republican leaders).

As proposed, Trump’s wall would also:

  • Take more than three years to build
  • Cover more than 1,200 miles
  • Supplement existing border barriers (covering approximately 650 miles)
  • Extend “almost the length of the entire border”

Here’s what happened the last time someone built a wall…

But everyone is getting ahead of themselves. Before anyone starts building anything, maybe they should stop and take a breath — and more importantly, take a good hard look at what happened the last time someone built a wall.

After all, it didn’t happen all that long ago. In fact, construction on what we came to know as the Berlin Wall began in August 1961. And, according to the blurb on history.com, its official purpose was to “keep Western ‘fascists’ from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state.” But the fact of the matter was that it was also built to halt a refugee crisis — of sorts.

You see, the West Germans didn’t build it to keep people out of their country. With the Soviet Union’s blessing, the East Germans built it to keep people from leaving theirs. (For some reason, hardcore socialists and Communists didn’t like people fleeing from their warped version of paradise. Maybe 21st century leftists should take note — but that’s another blog topic for another time.)

The fact remains that in the summer of 1961, more than 67,000 people “defected” from East Germany by escaping through Berlin before the East Germans built their wall. By the time they finished building — and reinforcing — it, the wall was 12 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It was topped with an obstacle that was also designed to thwart escape by anyone brave or lucky enough to get that far.

Some who tried to escape after the wall was erected didn’t live to tell the story. But over the years, thousands of people (approximately 5,000 in all) were successful.

As we all know, (or as we should all know) the Berlin Wall — the wall that divided east and west throughout the Cold War — “fell” in 1989.

Now, less than 30 years later, there’s a lot of talk about another wall. Trump’s wall…

“And before I built a wall, I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence…”

Just saying.

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