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This Happened

This Happened—November 9: The Cold War Begins To Crumble

The beginning of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which allowed East Germans to cross into the West, marked a new epoch in world history.

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Amid revolutions that led to the collapse of the Soviet-led communist bloc, the tearing down the wall on Nov. 9, 1989, is considered the symbolic end of the Cold War, culminating in the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

Why was the Berlin Wall built?

Constructed by the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR), in 1961, the wall was designed to stop its citizens from passing from East German to the West. For decades, the Berlin wall divided the city, which had been partitioned after World War II, both physically and ideologically.

What did the Berlin Wall symbolize?

One of the most infamous symbols of the Cold War, the wall separated families and prevented East Germans from leaving, dampening the dreams of those who fell on the wrong side. Those who wanted to cross were met with guard towers with machine guns ready to shoot them if they tried to cross the “death strip”, laid with beds of nails and other booby traps. An estimated 140 people are believed to have died trying to cross into West Germany.

Why was the Berlin Wall taken down?

After 28 years of forced separation, people had become increasingly discontent living behind the wall and tensions were at their peak. After a broadcast was made by a GDR politician stating that border crossings would be allowed, people rushed to the border stops. After crowding the walls, ordinary people called “wallpeckers” descended upon the wall and began to break it down with various tools, marking the beginning of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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The Colonial Spirit And "Soft Racism" Of White Savior Syndrome

Tracing back to Christian colonialism, which was supposed to somehow "civilize" and save the souls of native people, White Savior Syndrome lives on in modern times: from Mother Teresa to Princess Diana and the current First Lady of Colombia, VerĂłnica Alcocer.

photo of a child patient holding hand of an adult

Good intentions are part of the formula

Ton Koene / Vwpics/ZUMA
Sher Herrera


CARTAGENA — The White Savior Syndrome is a social practice that exploits or economically, politically, symbolically takes advantage of individuals or communities they've racialized, perceiving them as in need of being saved and thus forever indebted and grateful to the white savior.

Although this racist phenomenon has gained more visibility and sparked public debate with the rise of social media, it is actually as old as European colonization itself. It's important to remember that one of Europe's main justifications for subjugating, pillaging and enslaving African and American territories was to bring "civilization and save their souls" through "missions."

Even today, many white supremacists hold onto these ideas. In other words, they believe that we still owe them something.

This white savior phenomenon is a legacy of Christian colonialism, and among its notable figures, we can highlight Saint Peter Claver, known as "the slave of the slaves," Bartolomé de Las Casas, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Princess Diana herself, and even the First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

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