I went to view the East Side Gallery today - the 1-mile stretch of the Berlin Wall which became an outdoor gallery, on which hundreds of murals were painted by artists from all around the world after re-unification. Unfortunately, over the last few years it has become a target for graffiti taggers and many of the paintings have been almost totally obscured by mindless scrawling. In the last year, metal fences has been erected in front of the wall and many of the murals have been repainted and also some new ones created. Some of the most iconic paintings like the guy jumping over the wall to freedom and the huge crowd surging and breaking through the wall have been restored (see images below), however I can't help thinking of the irony in those images, that the people have escaped the wall but are still caught behind the newly erected metal fence setup to protect the wall.
Perhaps the wall imagery could be repurposed to depict the wave of immigrants fleeing Syria and being caught behind the new bureaucracy fences Europe is raising or for that matter, the ridiculous Mexican wall Trump is trying the build to stem Mexican immigration. Sure, better screening is needed to weed out the tiny percentage of terrorists embedded in the hundreds of thousands of immigrants but it seems that terrorist attacks in Berlin, Paris, London and Brussels in the last year has turned the tide of public opinion and allowed the rise of populist far right politicians to slam the gates shut.
Across Europe negative population growth is becoming the norm, along with rising numbers of people over 50 and over 65. We need new young immigrants to fill the gaps in the age demographics as there are increasingly less people working, supporting more retirees. The answer is managed immigration. Mass uncontrolled immigration causes problems, however severely restricted immigration is a ticking financial time bomb for people who will retire in the next thirty years.
Building walls are ultimately a waste of time. The human drive and spirit will always find a way to overcome the barriers, just as Berlin's Wall history illustrates a thousand stories of escape despite an army dedicated to keeping them in.