Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Refusing to be a monster

In keeping with my recent 'Ostalgie' post... in The Globe and Mail this morning there's a wonderful front page article about an incident — perhaps the incident — that precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago next Monday. On August 19, 1989, Hungarian border guard Bella Arpad, who had orders to shoot East Germans who attempted to cross the Hungarian frontier into Austria (and thus, the West), had to make a split second decision on that order. He refused it, arguably setting all the rest that followed over the next two years in real motion at last. His reasoning was, “If I fired, it would create a panic and a rush, and then we would have to use even more violence to deal with that, and a lot of people would be killed.”

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