Fifty-one years ago yesterday, on August 13, 1961, the Berlin Wall (Die Berliner Mauer) began to go up in that divided city. It started as a barbed-wire fence and eventually became brick and mortar.

Nevertheless, Konrad Adenauer, the West German Chancellor, could not concede to a divided German spirit. “They are and remain our German brothers and sisters,” he said of the eastern portion of his country.

Unfortunately, there are many Germans today who would feel uncomfortable uttering that same statement. Rightly or wrongly (I think wrongly), to them the words “brother” and “sister,” as applied to national sentiment, trigger images of Nazism in too many heads–not their own, but others’.

It’s interesting to note that Nazism today is illegal in Germany, while Communist parties are free to run in open elections.