Published September 1961 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of UNITED STATES SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD Room 342, Old Senate Office Building, Washington 25, D. C. Volume I -- Number 37 9-15-61 BYRD'S EYE VIEW A Public Service Column by SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD
EAST BERLIN IS NEW SOVIET SHOWCASE OF REPRESSION
If ever there were any doubt that every Communist country is a prison, it should be dispelled for all time by the barbed wire entanglements and the five foot high concrete block walls which fence off East Berliners from relatives, friends, and jobs, in West Berlin. In fact, East Berlin has become a showcase of Soviet repression, an exhibit of human enslavement for all the world to view.
But there is a savage lesson which the Communists will one day learn. They will find that, while they can force the imprisonment of the bodies of men and women, they cannot imprison their minds. As the British poet, Oscar Wilde, once wrote: “Stones walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars make a cage…”
In all of history, no dictator, or social order based on human enslavement, has ever been able to chain the souls of people who yearn to be free. None was ever able to fully quench the burning desire for human dignity, for liberty, and for the pursuit of happiness. The human need for freedom, it seems, is as much a part of man as any vital body organ. He functions poorly without it, or not at all.
This is attested to by the contrast between East and West Berlin -- a contrast starkly evident long before the barbed wire and cement walls were erected. In East Berlin, as in East Germany, despite two “Five Year plans,” the people are no better off today than they were shortly after the conclusion of the war. There are serious food shortages, much unemployment, and a shoddiness in clothing that emphasizes the grim living conditions of the social order under which the Communist masters force people to live.
On the other hand, there is an affluence in West Berlin that cannot be denied. There is a shortage of labor; there is the hustle and bustle of prosperity; there is the gayness of well-fed, well-clothed people, happy with themselves and with life in general. They are a progressive people. In this contrast between the two Berlins is an example of what happens when liberty and freedom are abrogated or circumvented-- a contrast for the entire world to see, for liberty is synonymous with progress, and freedom can lead to prosperity and well-being.
Of course, Red China has long been a showcase of terrifying forms of Communist suppression of freedom and liberty. At present, this suppression is taking a terrible toll of lives as are result of famine -- a famine cause~ in the main, by the unwillingness of people to conscientiously work under conditions of enslavement and regimentation. Now, bubonic plague, a sister of famine, has struck the people of Red China. Thus, for the greater glory of a social system that denies what men seek most -- liberty and freedom --thousands upon thousands of people will perish in deaths more horrible perhaps than those which can be inflicted by war .Let us never forget the barbed wire entanglements and the concrete walls around East Berlin. Let us never forget, too, that freedom is indivisible, and that what has happened to the East Germans and the people of Red China can also happen to us, if we do not strengthen ourselves in every possible manner. -- 30 --