Fred Kaplan explains the forgotten history of Berlin crises during the Cold War and ends on a familiar note:
The wall was built to bottle up an incipient revolt—a mass emigration that threatened to expose the Soviet system as inferior to the West, as an oppressive dungeon that its most educated young people yearned to escape. The wall not only blocked those yearnings; it also made clear to the brighter young Soviet and Eastern European leaders that the system itself—the ideological basis of their rule—was suspect, that it could not be sustained, much less compete with the West, without the internal imposition of force.
It’s interesting to reflect that it’s very much still the case that millions of people living in Ukraine and Russia and for that matter Mexico and Mozambique would love to engage in mass emigration to the West and expose the systems under which they live as corrupt and uncompetitive. Indeed, according to Gallup 700 million people would like to migrate permanently to a new country:
But of course the voters of the United States and Canada have no intention of letting as many people show up as might like to come, and the voters of Western Europe have even less desire for this, and those of Japan even less.