This is where Jurgen had been killed, his bullet-ridden body left as a reminder to anyone with dreams of escaping to the West that communism might be a failure when it came to bringing food and medicine to the people of the state, but it was efficient at killing those it couldn’t feed. He’d laid there a full week before the soldiers didn’t want to put up with the stink and the flies, and because the wall was on the approved route I took to the factory each day, I was forced to witness the decay of my only son in real time.
What would he have thought, I wondered often, of the changes which took place only months later. Every war starts with someone being killed, and there’s always some last life sacrificed to the capriciousness of fate, a death that doesn’t change anything but the last digit in history’s book of casualties. Jurgen had dreamed often of impossible things, but the future had failed him.
I ran my fingers over the rough stone, the concrete and rebar covered with graffiti instead of blood, and thought of the walls which still stood, replacing the physical barrier with many more that lived in our minds. The world was more divided now than it had been in those grey days, the hope of a better life a chimera, staying ever out of our grasp, taunting us with impossible dreams. I didn’t know what Jurgen would have thought of the fall of the wall, but his heart would have broken watching history repeat itself.
Mine had been broken a quarter-century ago, and no matter what I tried, there was nothing for it. I’d pretended for so long that I was living for him, living for his hope, living to realize his dreams, that there was nothing left. Nothing of him. Nothing of me. There was no faceless 20 year old holding a rifle, shouting at me to stop, but my end would come here, in the same spot as his. My hand didn’t tremble as I drew the gun from my pocket. There was no point. No regret. No future.