The Blessings of Socialism

I think it was P.J. O’Rourke who, writing of the relative backwardness of East Germany, asked what sort of a system is so bad it can make a nation of Germans unproductive. Well, East Germany is just a bad memory now, but there is one artifact that gives a pretty good idea of just what socialism did to that country.

The Newseum in Washington, D.C. has a section of the Berlin Wall on display, and with it, a concrete East German guard tower. The idea of the tower, of course, was to give guards a vantage point from which they could shoot anyone trying to escape the “worker’s paradise” and get to West Berlin. The tower is about three stories high and has three levels inside until you get to the top level where the guards are stationed, but here is the telling detail; there are no stairways!


Berlin Wall-East German side: drab gray concrete for a drab gray regime


Berlin Wall-West German side: Graffiti and artwork


East German guard tower with no stairways

No stairways? Then how do the guards get to and from the top level? Well, the procedure was for an officer, or sergeant to accompany each shift change and bring a ladder. He would escort the next shift up to the top one floor at a time, then pull the ladder up and place it to get to the next floor. He would bring the previous shift down the same way in reverse. That way, the men in the tower were stuck there until the next shift.

Why go to all that trouble?….to keep the guards from defecting!

Imagine a system so vile, so oppressive and so dysfunctional that even the guards could not be trusted to tolerate it. That’s communism/socialism for you; it’s not so much a worker’s paradise as a worker’s penitentiary.,

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