I remember it was a cold, gray and wet morning on the first full day the Berlin Wall had come down. I couldnt believe my luck. This huge bit of history was my first foreign assignment as a TV news reporter.
More importantly, the thousands pouring through the makeshift opening in the wall in November 1989 couldnt believe their luck either. After decades of oppression by the Soviet Union puppet East German regime, they were free to come and go as they please.
It was cold but the intense warmth of these exuberant people was overwhelming.
There is so much here, one East Berlin resident told me in amazement.
BERLIN WALLS FALL TRIGGERS MEMORIES FROM GERMAN NUNS WHO NURSED WOUNDED AFTER ESCAPE ATTEMPTS
Flash-forward 30 years and it seems like walls are making a comeback.
By one estimate, over 600 miles of new barriers have been built in Europe since then six times the length of the old Berlin Wall, mostly in the last five years.
This time around theyre not meant to keep residents of a captive nation in. Instead, they are aimed at keeping out and/or controlling the flow of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers coming to Europe from lands wracked with war and economic hardship.
PHOTOS: BERLIN WALL SEGMENTS AROUND THE WORLD
In September 2015we were at the border between Hungary and Serbia. The hopes and the needs of the refugees coming in from Syria and elsewhere didnt sound too much different than what I heard years before in Berlin.
We are going to life, one young man told us, we want life.
At the same time, Hungarian soldiers were busy erecting a lengthy and reinforced fence aimed at stemming the flow of this needy humanity.
Still, masses found their way into Europe. A million coming to Germany alone. Despite all they offered and the safety provided, locals were also upset about the changing nature of their communities, crime was linked to newcomers, even terror tied to the influx.
This led to the emergence of a far-right party in Germany andgovernments in Hungary and elsewhere in central Europe featuring nationalist politicians. They can capitalize on the publics fear of immigrants, erecting new political walls of worry and concern.
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It seems a long way from the idealistic joy we watched and experienced 30 years ago in Berlin, but perhaps representing a more pragmatic view of a globalizing world with tough new challenges.B: