From East Berlin to Duluth: Man Recounts Fall of Wall on 25th Anniversary |

From East Berlin to Duluth: Man Recounts Fall of Wall on 25th Anniversary

November 09, 2014 10:28 PM

Even though 25 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of East Berlin's communist regime, one Duluth man's memories remain clear.

In a speech Sunday morning to the congregation at St. John's Free Lutheran Church in Duluth, Michael Furchert said those two and half decades have gone by quickly.

"To me, it still feels like yesterday, that the Berlin wall came down and I stepped over the rubble of that wall into freedom," he said.

On that historic day in 1989, Furchert was a 17-year-old living with his family in East Berlin. He remembered seeing the events unfolding on television news.

"We didn't think that this was real; maybe it was fake," Furchert said. "We couldn't believe it because the Berlin Wall for all of our lives as teenagers had always been there. "It always meant death. It always meant separation. It meant living behind a totalitarian regime that deprived us of freedom and liberty, and if you tried to get across the Berlin Wall, escape into freedom, you were shot and killed."

Incredibly, after decades under communist rule, freedom was just a few steps away for East Berliners.

"I was then right in the crowd, and indeed we could stream across the Berlin Wall to the other side, and it was completely unreal," Furchert said. "We were hugging each other. We were crying we were overjoyed. Tears were running."

Furchert brought his first-hand account of struggle and triumph, faith and freedom to his fellow parishioners at St. John's who said even though Furchert is a member at the church, his talks always draw a crowd.

"It still resonates with me, and I still enjoy hearing it because it's good to be reminded sometimes when you tend to take for granted that some of the things that you accept as your right, it's not so in other countries," parishioner Andrew Chiu said.

It's a unique perspective in a place far from the Eastern Bloc's oppressive regime, but one that is still relevant to people in the Northland.

"Even though many Americans cannot imagine what life would be like living under a totalitarian regime, the story takes them back in time and to the other side of the world and puts themselves into my shoes," Furchert said. "The do want to hear about this, they do want to kind of dive into the story."

Twenty-five years later, Furchert said the story of the fall of wall is one with a message for generations to come.

"Yes indeed we can make a difference; we can transform societies, we can even change history," he said.


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