Fall of the Berlin Wall: VCU professor recalls ‘shocking’ aftermath in Germany 30 years ago

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Germany recently marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  

The year was 1989. Images of the Berlin Wall being knocked down consumed international media. For most German residents, the event was unfathomable.

During that time, tens of thousands of American military personnel were stationed in Germany. Many families, like 8News Anchor Constance Jones’ family, made a home overseas and were also able to witness that moment in history.           

Virginia Commonwealth University Journalism Professor Marcus Messner, Ph.D., was a teenager living in Germany at the time. He told 8News, “There was two Germanys. There were two Berlins. In our thinking, there wasn’t any challenge that that could change.”  

“Nobody could imagine or suddenly imagine that history from one night to the next day,” Messner continued. “It was shocking. Then, opening the newspaper the next day and seeing the boarder open is open.”

Prior to the wall coming down, former Air Force Sergeant Ken Odor was stationed in Berlin focusing on international surveillance. He recalled watching the moments unfold on television.

“Seventeen years later when I saw it come down,  I could not believe what I was seeing,” Odor remembered. “It was amazing.”

Today, Odor and a small contingency of Richmond residents, with an affinity for German culture, gather with the Shepherd’s Center of Richmond “Open University” to keep their language skills fresh. 

For Odor and Messner, it was clearly a unique and special time. A connection between Germany and the U.S. cemented through history. 

“There is always a bond with the German that the Americans were there to protect,” Messner said. “And free it from the Nazi regime.”

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