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In Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, 21 November 2017, parliament was the scene of unprecedented jubilation as the Speaker of the House read Robert Mugabe’s resignation letter. The House erupted in cheers, singing, dancing, clapping and celebrations – with Members of the Parliament leaping up, jumping on their chairs and tables, flinging their arms high above their heads, shouting with joy and exuberance.
Euphoria Throughout Zimbabwe
The atmosphere was electric throughout the country as people by the hundreds-of-thousands poured into the streets to cheer, shout, dance and sing at the news.
Dancing in the Streets
There were extraordinary scenes of people dancing, car horns blaring and flags waving with jubilation and singing in the streets. Tuesday, 21 November, will be remembered and celebrated for a very long time in Zimbabwe as the day in which Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe, finally gave in to decades of protests and pressure to force him to give up his despotic misrule.
Record Breaking Catastrophe
At 93 years old, Robert Mugabe was the oldest and longest-running dictator still in power in the world. For 37 years, the people of Zimbabwe have been brutalised, terrorised and oppressed by his Marxist ZANU-PF reign of terror.
Insulting the Matabele
Earlier this month at a ZANU-PF party rally in Bulawayo, the capital of Matabeleland, Mugabe aggravated the Matabele people by speaking in Shona. As his wife, Grace Mugabe (often called Gucci Grace because of her exorbitant lavish lifestyle) was heckled with the people chanting at her: “You know nothing!” and singing the Matabele song “Oyenzayo Siyaizonda” which translates to: “We hate what you do!” Grace responded to the crowd: “I don’t care, I am powerful!”; “Even if I become vice president, is there anything wrong with that?” The people continued to sing: “We hate what you do!”
Arrogance and Threats
The visibly incensed Robert Mugabe poured out his wrath on his Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa (nicknamed the crocodile), publically threatening to fire him. “If I made a mistake by appointing Mnangagwa… tell me. I will drop him as early as tomorrow. We are not afraid of anyone. We can decide even here!” Mugabe roared. Mugabe was openly booed by many in the crowd of Matabele in Bulawayo. When Mugabe followed this up by actually sacking his Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, this provoked the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) to swing into action.
Military Action to Restore the Vice President
On 14 November, armoured personnel carriers rumbled into Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The president was taken into what the military described as “protective custody”. The ZDF secured the public broadcaster and other strategic points. The commander of the armed forces declared that they were “targeting criminals around Mugabe who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country, in order to bring them to justice.”
It was clear that the crisis was caused by the power struggle over who would succeed the 93-year-old dictator. It marked the end of the political ambitions of Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, Grace Mugabe. It was the high profile firing of Vice President Mnangagwa and the purging of party loyalists who did not support Grace Mugabe’s aspirations to become the next President that was the final straw.
Assault and Intrigue
Grace Mugabe has been involved in a number of assaults, including in August this year, when she lashed a model with a plug in a hotel in South Africa. The South African ANC government allowed her to claim diplomatic immunity and escape prosecution. She has been behind the dismissal of many party favourites of ZANU-PF, including former Vice President, Joice Mujuru.
A Trail of Treachery
Robert Mugabe will be remembered as the Marxist who was propelled into power by Jimmy Carter’s State Department and the British Foreign Office, in violation of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979.
Lord Arthur Christopher Soames, a son-in-law of Winston Churchill and the British-appointed Governor of Rhodesia during the transition period, was responsible to ensure free and fair elections in accordance with the Lancaster House Agreement. However, while Soames acknowledged that Mugabe’s ZANU-PF was engaged in widespread, systematic violations and terrorism, intimidating the voters, he refused to dismiss the obviously fraudulent votes in favour of Mugabe. In blatant violation of the Lancaster House Agreement, Soames handed over the government of Rhodesia to Mugabe and his disqualified terrorist movement, with disastrous consequences to all.
Massacres in Matabeleland
Mugabe mobilised his North Korean Fifth Brigade to conduct wholesale massacres in Matabeleland from 1983 to 1984. Termed Gukurahundi (loosely translated from the Shona it refers to “the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains”). Mugabe is from the majority Shona tribe and the Matabele are the minority tribe. The Matabele are descendants of the Zulu. Tens-of-thousands of Matabele civilians were brutally massacred by Mugabe’s ZANU 5th Brigade.
The Long Fields
Disused mineshafts such as Antelope and Attica Mine were used for dumping many of the bodies of murdered Matabele. Researchers such as Dr. Stuart Doran documented that Robert Mugabe ordered the Gukurahundi killings to remove and suppress political opposition within Matabeleland. This was in order to make possible Mugabe’s plans to impose a one-party state in 1985.
The Fifth Brigade Terror
The members for the 5th Brigade were all ZANU-PF party members drawn from 3,500 ZANLA troops at the Tongogara Assembly point, named after Josiah Tongogara, the ZANLA Commander. Under the command of Colonel Perence Shiri, the North Korean trained 5th Brigade were distinguished by their red berets. All young men in Matabeleland were considered potential dissidents and were summarily detained or executed.
Most were shot in front of family and fellow villagers in public executions, after being forced to dig their own graves. Sometimes groups of all ages, including women and children, were shot, such as at Lupane, on the banks of the Cewale River, when 62 were massacred. We know of this massacre because seven victims survived despite severe gunshot wounds.
Targeting the Matabele
On numerous occasions, large numbers of people were herded into huts and burned alive. This was done in Tsholotsho. The 5th Brigade would routinely round up hundreds of civilians, march them to a central place, such as a school, where they would be forced to sing Shona songs praising ZANU, while they were beaten with sticks and whips. These gatherings usually ended up with public executions. This could be the local chief, or anyone chosen at random.
Breaking the Silence
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe produced a document Breaking the Silence with 2,000 names of known Matabele victims of the Gukurahundi. In February 1983, the International Red Cross produced documentation of 1,200 Matabele murdered in just that month alone. In 2005, the International Association of Genocide Scholars estimated the death toll in Matabeleland as at least 20,000.
Moven Mahachi, Defence Minister in 1992, became the first ZANU official who acknowledged the execution and torture of civilians by the 5th Brigade. In 1997, former Defence Minister, Enos Enkala, described his involvement with Gukurahundi as “eternal hell” and blamed president Mugabe for orchestrating it. Even Robert Mugabe speaking at Joshua Nkomo’s Memorial service, 2 July 2000, admitted that thousands had been killed during the Gukurahundi campaign. “Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate…” Amos 5:15
Mugabe will most be remembered for having implemented the disastrous Socialist policies and land invasions, as well as Zimbabwe’s military adventurism in the Congo, which led to the worst hyperinflation ever seen in history. A Hundred Trillion Dollar note could not even buy a quarter of a loaf of bread in 2008 and that was after having dropped sixteen zeroes from the currency! It became difficult to measure Zimbabwe hyperinflation because the government of Zimbabwe stopped filing official inflation statistics. However, by November 2008, inflation was estimated at 79.6 billion %! By 2009, Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency and began using the United States Dollar, South African Rand and Botswanan Pula.
Looting the Whole Country
The destruction of savings, earnings and pensions was absolutely catastrophic, destroying lifetimes of savings and earnings. Yet, while it destroyed the livelihood of most Zimbabweans, it made many of the ZANU-PF elite spectacularly wealthy. “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery…” Isaiah 61:8
From Bread Basket to Basket Case
Mugabe also managed to take a country, which had been a breadbasket of Africa to the basket case of Africa. He turned the paradise of Rhodesia into the hell of Zimbabwe. He took a country, which had flourished even under International sanctions and in the midst of a vicious war against Soviet and Red Chinese backed terrorists, into a failed state and that even with massive International Foreign Aid! Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe collapsed into economic chaos with over 85% unemployment. More than half of the total population voted with their feet by fleeing the country.
Obscene Opulence and Extravagant Excesses
Despite Zimbabwe becoming one of the poorest countries in the world, Robert Mugabe became one of the wealthiest people in the world with a personal net worth of well over US $1 Billion. Mugabe owns the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, which has allowed Red China to strip the country of its natural assets. In 2001, Wikileaks estimated Robert Mugabe’s net worth as US $1.75 Billion invested as far afield as Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland. At his 90th birthday celebrations, Mugabe boasted of dining on elephant and lion meat! The obscene extravagance of Mugabe, his wives and sons, is in stark contrast with the destitution of most of the people suffering under his maladministration.
Converted to Communism
Mugabe has described his political ideology as Marxist Leninism. He was educated at Kutama College and University of Fort Hare. Then he worked as a schoolteacher in Rhodesia and Ghana. Mugabe testified that it was the scholarship he received in 1949 to study at the University at Fort Hare in South Africa that led to his involvement in politics. He joined the African National Congress and was introduced to Marxist ideas by Jewish South African communists. He described his time at Fort Hare as the “turning point” in his life. Mugabe was convicted of sedition and imprisoned between 1964 and 1974 during which time he studied further. Released in the 1974 Amnesty, he moved to Mozambique to oversee ZANU’s Revolutionary terrorism campaign.
How Liberators Become Oppressors
Elections in Zimbabwe have been dominated by state violence and blatant electoral fraud. Even when defeated, such as in the 2002, 2008 and 2013 presidential elections, Mugabe stayed in power and continued to brutalise and terrorise the population that he claimed to serve. “How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished...” Jeremiah 12:4
How to Destroy Any Economy
As Robert Guest, the African Editor of The Economist, observed in his book, The Shackled Continent: “For half a century now, the continent has been deluged with Foreign Aid, but this aid has failed to make Africa any less poor… it has bankrolled tyrants… or idealists with hopeless economic policies… both types of aid have been wasted… doing business in Africa can be tricky. Bad roads, punctured by road blocks, manned by bribe-hungry policemen, make it slow and costly to move goods, even short distances… local firms, meanwhile, have been held back by arbitrary government regulations, dysfunctional legal systems and the difficulty, without political connections, of raising capital… if Africa was better governed it would be richer… Africans are poor, largely because they are not yet free. They live under predatory, incompetent governments which… impoverish them in many ways: through corruption, through bad economic policies and sometimes, as in Zimbabwe, by creating an atmosphere of terror…” “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity…” 2 Peter 2:19
The Fall of Mugabe is Not Necessarily the End of the Oppression in Zimbabwe
We cannot anticipate too much change in policy as Mnangagwa was a loyal Mugabe henchman until very recently. He has been complicit in all the crimes of the Mugabe ZANU-PF gangsters over the last 37 years. Those that think only Mugabe has been the problem, do not understand the insidious role of communism. After Vladimir Lenin, there was Stalin, then Khrushchev, then Brezhnev and so on. Mugabe is just one of many Marxist mass-murdering thugs available to ZANU-PF. “Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.” Psalm 71:4
Freedom Requires the Eradication of Communism and Corruption
Although the regime governing Zimbabwe will try to make it appear that freedom has come, to entice investment, which they can overtax and later confiscate, things are bound to continue to deteriorate until the people of Zimbabwe rise up to overthrow the whole communist structure and uproot its destructive ideology which has permeated and poisoned the country. “Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.” Psalm 55:11
Desperate for Hope and Real Change
However, the masses of people who have turned out in the hundreds-of-thousands to celebrate the downfall of Robert Mugabe are desperate for hope and real change. We need to continue to pray and to work for Biblical Reformation and spiritual Revival. “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” Proverbs 21:15
Serving the Suffering
Frontline Fellowship has been dedicated to missionary work in Zimbabwe since 1982. For over 35 years, we have been distributing Bibles and Bible teaching materials, conducting Leadership Training Seminars, Evangelism Workshops, ministering in schools, prisons, hospitals, in the streets and market places, seeking to lay solid Biblical foundations for long-term Biblical Reformation.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear and are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:15-19
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Evaluating Mugabe’s Legacy in the Light of Eternity
What is Happening in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe and Zambia - A Tale of Two Countries and Three Religions
Hope for Zimbabwe
Fraud, Failure and Farce in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe at the Crossroads
Zimbabwe - A Lesson in How to Destroy Christian Civilisation
Mugabe's Tsunami in Zimbabwe
Crimes Against Humanity in Zimbabwe
Evicted Farmers Continue to Feed Zimbabwe
Power Failures in Zimbabwe
Chinese Colonialism in Zimbabwe
Who Won the War and Who Initiated the Peace?
How the Greatest Century of Missions Was Derailed Into the Worst Century of Persecution
16 November 1855 – Scottish Missionary, Dr. David Livingstone, sighted, explored, measured and named Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River in Central Africa.
“The Smoke that Thunders”
Seeing enormous columns of spray and hearing a thunderous roar miles away, Missionary David Livingstone asked local people what was there? In response, he was told: “Mosi-oa-Tunya,” (“the smoke that thunders”). Some villagers described it as “Seongo” or “Chongwe,” which means, “the place of the rainbow.”
Fear and Superstition
When asked what caused the smoke and the thunder, he was told that this was the work of the spirits. Apparently, nobody had dared venture close enough to actually see what made the smoke thunder. Most were too afraid to go with Dr. Livingstone to explore it, so great was the hold of superstition and fear.
“A Scene so Lovely Angels Must have Gazed Upon It”
Borrowing a canoe, Dr. Livingstone travelled downstream and could clearly see: “the high columns of vapour which were called by the villagers, smoke. From a distance, it looked as though large tracts of grass were being burned.” As he drew closer, he could see “five distinct columns, bending in the direction of the wind. They seemed placed against a lower ridge covered with trees. The tops of the columns at this distance appeared to mingle with the clouds. They were white below and higher up became dark, so as to simulate smoke very closely. The whole scene was extremely beautiful; the banks and islands dotted over the river are adorned with sylvan vegetation of great variety of colour and thorn… no one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but a scene so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”
Lush Rain Forest
“The Falls are bounded by three sides by ridges 300, or 400, feet in height, which are covered with forest, with the red soil appearing amongst the trees.”
The View from Livingstone Island
Dr. Livingstone beached his canoe on an island situated in the middle of the river, (today this is called Livingstone Island) and crawled to the edge to gaze at a most wondrous sight, as “on both sides, the water rolled off into deep gorges. In coming hither there was danger of being swept down by the streams which rushed along on each side of the river; but the river was now low… the vast body of water seemed to lose itself in the earth, the opposite lip of the fissure, into which it disappeared, was only 80 feet distant. Creeping with awe to the verge, I peered down into a large rent, which had been made from bank to bank of the broad Zambezi River and saw a stream of over 1,000 yards broad leap down hundreds of feet and then became suddenly compressed in a space of 15, or 20, yards wide.”
“The Most Wonderful Sight in Africa”
“The entire Falls are simply a crack made in hard basaltic rock from the right to the left bank of the Zambezi and then prolonged from the left bank by way through 30, or 40, miles of hills. If one imagines the Thames filled with low, tree covered hills, immediately beyond the tunnel, extending as far as Graves End, the bed of black basaltic rock instead of London mud and a fissure made therein from one end of the tunnel, to the other, down through the keystones of the arch and prolonged from the left end of the tunnel through 30 miles of hills, the pathway being over 100 feet down from the bed of the river, instead of what it is, with the lips of the fissure from 80 to 100 feet apart, then fancy the Thames leaping bodily in the gulf and forced there to change its direction and flow from the right to the left bank and then rush boiling and roaring through the hills, you may have some idea of what takes place at this, the most wonderful sight I had witnessed in Africa.”
The Rainbow in the Cloud
“In looking down into the fissure, on the right of the island, one sees nothing but a dense white cloud, with two bright rainbows in it. From this cloud rushed up a great jet of vapour, exactly like steam and it mounted 200, or 300, feet high; there condensing it changed its hue to that of dark smoke and came back in a constant shower,” which saturated Livingstone to the skin.
Shimmering Sights of Steam, Steel and Snow
On the left of the island he saw: “water at the bottom, a white rolling mass, moving away to the prolongation of the fissure, which branches off near the left bank of the river…. The walls of this giant crack are perpendicular and composed of one homogenous mass of rock. The edge of that side over which the water falls is worn off 2, or 3, feet and pieces have fallen away, so as to give it somewhat of a serrated appearance. That over which the water does not fall is quite straight, except at the left corner, where a rent appears and a piece seems inclined to fall off upon the whole; it is nearly in the state in which it was left at the period of its formation… on the left side of the island we had a good view of the massive water which causes one of the columns of vapour to ascend and it leaps quite clear of the rock and forms a thick unbroken fleece all the way to the bottom. Its whiteness gave the idea of snow, a sight I had not seen for many a day. As it broke into pieces of water, all rushing on in the same direction, each gave off several rays of foam, exactly like bits of steel being burned in oxygen gas gives off rays of sparks. A snow white sheet which seemed like myriads of small comets rushing on in one direction, each of which left behind its nucleus rays of foam.”
Measuring Victoria Falls
Ever the Scientist and Geographer, Livingstone now began to measure the Falls and to draw sketches of it. He let down a weighted string and measured the distance from the lip of Livingstone Island down to the bottom of the gorge at 310 feet deep. He then calculated that the width of Victoria Falls was 1,860 yards. He paced the distance between the first and the second gorge at 400 paces on the left side at 150 paces on the right. The accuracy of these initial measurements have been confirmed by later scientific measurements.
The Largest Waterfall in the World
Victoria Falls is classified as the largest waterfall in the world, with a combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 feet) and a height of 108 meters (354 feet) on average. It results in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and over twice the width of Horse Shoe Falls. It is bigger than Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls. Victoria Falls has recorded up to 12,800 tonnes of water per second passing over the edge. Victoria Falls has been identified as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
A Major Tourist Destination
Dr. Livingstone named it after Queen Victoria and it has been a major tourist destination ever since. By the end of the 1990s, almost 400,000 people were visiting Victoria Falls each year. Most of the tourists go to the Zambian side, because of the political instability in Zimbabwe. There are two national Game Reserves at Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe.
Wildlife Sanctuary Painted by Thomas Baines
On his Zambezi expedition, Dr. Livingstone was accompanied by Victorian artist, Thomas Baines, whose colour paintings of Victoria Falls are famous. They also documented the tremendous concentration of wildlife in the area around Victoria Falls. Evidently, it was, for generations, a major wildlife sanctuary, as none of the local people dared venture near a place which the superstitious viewed with fear.
Victoria Falls Will Always Be Associated with David Livingstone
Some may question if David Livingstone was the first to see Victoria Falls. However, there is absolutely no question that he was the first to name it, measure it, sketch it and make it known to the world. There are major monuments to Dr. David Livingstone on both the Zambezi and Zimbabwean sides of Victoria Falls. On the Zambian side is situated the city of Livingstone, which has the Livingstone Museum and the David Livingstone Teacher Training College.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
The Challenge of Livingstone Today – also, audio link
The Life and Legacy of David Livingstone – also audio & video link
See The Greatest Century of Missions and Victorious Christians Who Changed the World, by Dr. Peter Hammond. These books are available from Christian Liberty Books, PO Box 358, Howard Place 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.
To view The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall on Vimeo, click here.
To listen to the audio lecture of The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall, click here.
9 November, marks the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
A speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, 5 March 1946, declared, “An Iron Curtain has descended across the continent”. From Stettin in the North to Trieste in the South barbed wire and barricades, walls and machine gun towers were going up, sealing off the captive nations occupied by the Soviet Union from their neighbours in the West. The Iron Curtain divided a continent and trapped hundreds of millions of people under communism. Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, declared that the Second World War was not a disaster but “a great opportunity” to extend communism into the very heart of Europe.
Even Poland, for whose freedom Great Britain had ostensibly entered the war, was now little more than a satellite of the Soviet Empire ruled by men chosen by Moscow. Its population was now imprisoned behind a line of barbed wire, watchtowers and minefields - a physical iron curtain.
To spy on its captive populations the Soviet empire set up secret police. In the Soviet Union it was the KGB, in Bulgaria it was the DS, in Czechoslovakia the StB, in Hungary the AVB, in Poland the SB, in Romania the Securitatae and in East Germany it was the STASI (the Ministry of State Security). The STASI maintained a huge network of 90,000 secret police and 175,000 paid informants. They kept files on 4,000,000 East Germans - a quarter of the population.
The Berlin Wall was manned by 15,000 guards - the so-called Volkspolizei (VOPOS). When Joseph Stalin attempted to starve West Berlin into submission by cutting off all electricity and supplies on 23 June 1948 the Western powers responded with the Berlin Airlift. The Berlin blockade was the first serious global crisis of the Cold War. West Berlin was kept alive by an airlift of over 150 aircraft supplying an average of 5,000 tons per day. By the time the Soviets ended the blockade on 12 May 1949 over 2.5 million tons had been delivered at the cost of 60 aircrew who had died in aircraft crashes.
There were numerous hot fronts in the Cold War. The Cold War included a full-scale military war in Korea where 2 million died in the three-year conflict. Evidence has since surfaced that Stalin was planning to follow up the Korean attack with a military offensive in Europe. He was deterred by the quick international response in Korea.
Protests in Berlin
After the death of Joseph Stalin (5/3/53), over 100,000 East Berlin workers protested against the Soviet occupation. Two Soviet armoured divisions were sent into East Berlin to crush the protest in June 1953. Over 100 civilians were killed and 25,000 protesters arrested.
Uprising in Hungary
In July 1956, a full scale uprising in Hungary shook the Soviet Empire. Mass demonstrations demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops and in Budapest, a massive statue of Stalin was toppled. Soviet troops poured into Hungary and over 20,000 Hungarians were killed in the repression. Tens-of-thousands more were arrested and imprisoned. 250,000 Hungarians fled to the West.
The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was concrete proof of the failure of “scientific socialism”.
To prevent Germans in the Soviet zone from fleeing to the Western zone in Berlin, a 165 km wall was constructed to seal off West Berlin's island of freedom from Soviet occupied communist East Germany.
The Berlin Wall included 302 concrete observation posts/machine gun towers and 123 km of electric fencing.
A further death strip stretching 1,393 km along the border between communist East Germany and free West Germany was constructed with:
724 observation posts/machine gun towers,
1,161 km of electric fencing,
54, 000 self-firing devices and
190 km of mine fields.
Just between 13 August 1961 and 30 July 1983, 73 people were killed by the communists while attempting to escape over the Berlin Wall, 182 more people were killed attempting to escape from East Germany across the border into West Germany, 60,000 people were imprisoned for “preparation, assistance or complicity”, in attempting to escape from East to West Germany (with sentences ranging from 16 months to life imprisonment). By 1989, at least 239 escapees from East Berlin were known to have been killed just at the Berlin Wall alone. More than a thousand died, trying to flee across the Iron Curtain.
Voting With their Feet
Yet from the founding of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1949, more than 4,500,000 (over one quarter of the population) voted with their feet by fleeing to West Germany. 38,515 escaped from East to West Berlin by tunnels, by improvised air machines or hot air balloons, hidden inside vehicles travelling from East to West Berlin. 2,768 East German soldiers and officers on duty (including a Colonel) escaped to the West.
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cold War almost went nuclear during the Cuban missile crisis, October 1962. The vicious conflicts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (1963 - 1975) were hot parts of the Cold War.
Invasion of Czechoslovakia
Anyone who believed that communism could be reformed from within was shaken by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 when Czech communist party chief, Alexander Dubcek, attempted to create “socialism with a human face.” As a result of economic reforms in Czechoslovakia, the other East European satellite states complained that their positions were being undermined by the reforms in Czechoslovakia. The Soviet response was: Leonid Brezhnev ordered a full-scale Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia to restore orthodox communism. The Prague Spring ended in August 1968 as half-a-million Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia and overwhelmed the courageous resistance of Czech patriots
The Soviet Empire reached its peak during the period of Détente, as they sponsored, trained and armed revolutionaries to seize power in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in 1975, Ethiopia in 1974, Guinea Bissau, Angola and Mozambique in 1975, Grenada and Nicaragua in 1979 and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in 1980. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was a major wake up call to those in the West who still believed in Détente.
Freedom on the Offensive
As a result of this unprecedented Soviet advance, there was a backlash throughout the West, epitomised by staunch anti-communist US President, Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, West German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl and South Africa’s P.W. Botha. South Africa confronted and defeated the Soviets and their Cuban surrogates in Angola. The West went on the offensive, directly supporting the anti-communist Solidarity trade union movement in Poland, which soon organised nationwide strikes and protests against the Soviet occupation. The USA began to arm and support anti-communist resistance movements as far afield as in Nicaragua, Afghanistan and Angola.
Bankrupting the Soviets
Ronald Reagan's policies forced the Soviets back onto the defensive and strategically undermined their economy. Spectacular re-armament programmes and the space based Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) quickly left the Soviets far behind in the arms race and totally bankrupted the Soviet Union in their futile attempt to keep up with America.
The Iron Lady
British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher's determination to fight to reclaim the Falkland Islands, after the Argentinean invasion, helped convince the Soviets that the West was not nearly so decadent and weak as they had imagined. Thatcher's success in reviving the British economy also helped demonstrate that capitalism had a future even while communism was bankrupting the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. The Iron Lady had this to say about the Berlin Wall: “The Berlin Wall stands as concrete proof that when people have a choice, they choose to be free Freedom has its problems but we've never needed to build walls to keep our people in.”
Defeating the Communists
Brave anti-communist resistance fighters in Mozambique, Angola, Nicaragua and Afghanistan severely bled the Soviet forces, inflicting serious defeats upon them. The Rhodesian resistance throughout the 60s and 70s had set back the advance of communism in Southern Africa and the destruction of entire Cuban mechanised divisions in Angola by South African conventional forces in the battles on the Lomba River in 1987 and 1988 convinced the Soviet Union that they would not even be able to win a conventional war against the West.
Russian soldiers began to refer to Afghanistan as their 'Vietnam'. As Russian casualties mounted in that conflict, the ongoing political crisis in Poland and widespread resistance to communism throughout the Soviet empire helped convince the Soviet leaders that their bankrupt system was doomed.
The Glasnost Gulag
Even under Gorbachev's much-acclaimed Glasnost, the Soviet Gulag imprisoned millions. When US President, Ronald Reagan, stood at the Berlin Wall and challenged: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” the Soviet Union operated 1,976 concentration camps, 273 prisons, 85 psychiatric prisons and 41 death camps. In this Soviet Gulag, over 5,000,000 political and religious prisoners were incarcerated. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, documented that between 1918 and 1953 (under Lenin and Stalin's rule) over 50,000,000 Russians served long sentences in the Soviet concentration camps - with millions perishing
The Hypocrisy of Communism
It was pointed out that while the communists claimed to have liberated Russia from the oppression of the Czars, there were 5000 times more official executions under communist rule in Russia as occurred under Czarist rule in the same time period. By comparison with Russia under Czarist rule where the highest figure of political prisoners was 183,949, the communists imprisoned seventy times as many people at any one time.
Callous Disregard for Life
Vladimir Lenin famously declared that it did not matter if three quarters of the population of Russia perished, as long as the remaining quarter were communist.
Joseph Stalin observed: “The death of one person is a tragedy; whereas the death of a million is just a statistic!”
Prayer and Protests
As candlelit prayer vigils and protests spread from Leipzig, through Dresden, to all of East Germany, the East German government was bankrupt and tottering. Gorbachev's Soviet Union was also bankrupt and could no longer bail them out. So, Erich Honecker, the dictator of East Germany, turned to the West Germans (who in the past had always been willing to provide enough to keep East Germany going). This time, however, the West German Federal Government was not willing to bail them out. They demanded reforms.
The Fall of the Wall
While governments negotiated, the people in both East and West Berlin rose up to breach the wall and began to dismantle it physically. The leaders were overwhelmed by events. Days after the Berlin Wall collapsed, mass demonstrations broke out in Czechoslovakia. Vaclav Havel, long-time leader of the Resistance movement and prisoner of the communists, rose to power and dismantled communism in Czechoslovakia.
The Christmas Revolution
Street fighting erupted in Romania to overthrow the brutal communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Soon resistance spread to Bulgaria where the communists were overthrown in December 1989. In Hungary, the communist government was overthrown in October 1990. In Albania, the first free elections were held in March 1991. Yugoslavia split into different republics as each broke away from the communist control in Belgrade. Soon the Baltic Republics - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - were demanding and achieving their independence from the Soviet Union.
The End of the Soviet Union
In August 1991, a coup in the Soviet Union was frustrated in its attempt to return the country to hard line communism. Boldly waving the white, blue and red Russian flag, Boris Yeltsin abolished the Soviet Union and pulled down the Soviet Flag. The Cold War had formally ended.
Terrorist Threat from the Middle East
Even as the Cold War with Soviet Union communism ended, a new war was starting with radical Islamic terrorists declaring war on the West.
Victory Over Communism
“There is nothing they despise more than weakness. There is nothing they respect more than strength.” The Cold War was won by a combination of Christian courage by persecuted Christians who endured decades of brutality, steadfast resistance by brave anti-communist soldiers who fought the Soviets to a standstill, persistent prayer and pressure from Christians in the West and the bold strategy of Ronald Reagan, which dismantled the Evil Empire.
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption…” 2 Peter 2:19
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Obtain Going Through – Even if the Door is Closed book, by Bill Bathman, for the incredible story of ministry behind the Iron Curtain and how the Wall was breached.
The Greatest Killer
To listen to an audio of the Greatest Killer, click here
To see a Video of The Greatest Killer, click here
The Heart and Soul of Karl Marx
The Failure of Atheism and the Triumph of Faith in the Soviet Union
The Fall of the Berlin Wall