The Istituto Poligrafico Zecca della Stato (IPZS) has launched (27th September) new €5 silver Proof quality and colour coins that mark a significant worldwide event which changed the course of international politics and aided in the collapse of communism in Europe.
This year marks 30 years since what was thought impossible actually occurred. On a cold night in Berlin, the much-hated Berlin Wall came down with the help of brave Berliners cooperating together on both sides. The Berlin Wall was a despised symbol of the continuation of the Cold War that emerged after the fighting of the Second World War. Although the West and Soviet Union had fought together to defeat the Third Reich, a more permanent division of Germany was the result of an attempt of the Soviets to dominate much of Eastern Europe. Germany had been occupied by the four victorious Allies, which meant four different sectors of administration and zones administered by the United States, Great Britain, France, and the USSR. When three of these allies came together to form the new Federal Republic of Germany, the Soviet sector became a separate entity and nation of the Democratic Republic of Germany with a communist-dominated government. As a result, the former capital city of Berlin was also divided along the lines of the whole of Germany, with four different sectors.
When East Germany emerged as a separate state in 1948, Berlin and its three sectors administered by the Western Allies were essentially left behind in what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had referred to as “The Iron Curtain.” With the establishment of the two Germanys, many East Berliners had looked to escape communism and get to the western side of Berlin or fly safely to West Germany. Increasingly prevented from doing so, many East Berliners found different ways to permanently cross the divide until one perilous day in 1961, when those in West Berlin awoke one morning to find they were systematically being walled in by East German authorities. The entire sector of West Berlin had been walled in, streets suddenly ended, metro trains were abruptly stopped in their tracks, and even municipal buildings along the divide were bricked up. The wall was wholly successful in achieving two things: It prevented East Berliners from escaping and also stopped West Berliners from having further person-to-person contact with friends and family. Along with the wall, watchtowers were also built, complete with East German soldiers ordered to use deadly force to stop anyone attempting to cross over the wall. In explaining the need for the wall to the world, East German officials always claimed that the wall was erected to protect the communist regime from the pernicious influences of Western capitalism and culture.
With the emergence of Eastern Europe looking to break free of Soviet dominance towards the end of 1988, communist authorities were losing the battle to keep control of the people. From Warsaw in Poland, to Budapest in Hungary, and to Prague in Czechoslovakia, the people were gaining momentum to challenge communist authority. In the three Baltic states which were then still part of the Soviet Union, a “Baltic Chain” comprising more than two million people joined hands across the three countries in August 1989 to demonstrate solidarity and strength, and to also demonstrate to the Kremlin the world was closely watching. Between a change in administration in East Germany and a greater desire to topple the communists, all Berliners came together on a cold night in November 1989 and began hacking away at the wall, until a significant gap had been made and thousands of East Berliners did what all thought impossible weeks ago — they walked through and into West Berlin. From that day onwards, the hated symbol of imprisonment by the communists was no longer relevant. Within less than a year from this historic event, Germany would reunify under one government, the East German state having collapsed, with plans to relocate the Bundestag (Parliament) back to Berlin and be re-housed in its original building. During the history of the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989, nearly 80 people were killed trying to cross from East to West Berlin.
Designed by artist Valerio De Seta, the obverse side depicts the Berlin Wall intact as sections with a colourful, stylised graphic mural. During the days of the wall, many murals and colourful graffiti designs appeared on the western side to brighten up the surroundings, lessen the harshness of the grey concrete the wall, and to express a political opinion. The text REPUBBLICA ITALIANA encircles the design.
The reverse design also depicts a colourful mural that hits the Berlin Wall in an explosion of colours and cement fragments. Poignantly, the design also shows the wall breaking up to open up a breach in which the dove of peace appears. The commemorative inscription 30 ANNIVERSARIO DELLA CADUTA DEL MURO DI BERLINO (“30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall”) encircles the primary design.
|Five euro||.925 Silver||18 g||32 mm||Proof with applied colour||6,000|
Available from the 18th October, each coin is encapsulated and housed in a branded IPZS custom case which is also accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity. For additional information about this coin and others available from the IPZS, please visit their website.