We still pursue the illusion that democracy can be imposed from without. That's not how it happened then, and it isn't how it happens now: not in the German Democratic Republic and not in Iraq or Afghanistan either.
Will Lech Walesa, former head of the Polish Solidarity movement, succumb to pettiness of our times? When we fight not with stones and fists but lawyers and tricks, and suffering always has a monetary value?
For me, and for so many other people around the world, the anniversary is bittersweet. As the people of Germany celebrate a wall coming down, the people of Palestine are overwrought by a wall going up.
East Germans stormed the Stasi 19 years ago today and began to dismantle the secret police apparatus. As a new administration takes over in the US, we might take to heart the lessons learned about openness.