By Kevin Anthony Stoda,  America, Germany, Europe



Well, as this November 2009 is the 30th Anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s THE WALL, I thought I would watch the film again.  It is online here currently.


I remember that autumn 1979, we seniors in high school had already been inundated by the tune “Another Brink in the Wall (Part2)”.  Those lyrics went something like this.

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.


Two years later at college, I would paint my room with the white and black bricks of THE WALL album cover.

We don’t need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.


Coming from Kansas schools, where education in the 1970s was still well-above national average, I was not one to chime in with those second groups of lyrics—but I did understand sentiments to the Wasteland of the Midwest.   On the other hand, I could not understand these lines because we never had much pudding, like Roger Gilmour and his British friends in the band.


“Wrong, Do it again!”
“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you
have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”
“You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy!”


I recall once getting whipped with a paddle for a crime in school that I didn’t do back in the 4th grade in Wentzville, Missouri, but otherwise, I feel as an educator that students are just as likely to abuse a teacher as the other way around.


Now that I look at the 1982 film, THE WALL, I am stuck by the fact that it is not British cops beating the mostly Caucasian youth in the film with Bob Geldof, who went on to create the LIVE AID CONCERTS.   It is an American flag and the cop cars are large American cars—albeit with a British paddy wagon.


I wonder why the American allusion when the band, Pink Floyd, is British…?


According to one synopsis, “The movie tells the story of rock singer ‘Pink’ who is sitting in his hotel room in Los Angeles, burnt out from the music business and only able to perform on stage with the help of drugs. Based on the 1979 double album “The Wall” by Pink Floyd, the film begins in Pink’s youth where he is crushed by the love of his mother. Several years later he is punished by the teachers in school because he is starting to write poems. Slowly he begins to build a wall around himself to be protected from the world outside. The film shows all this in massive and epic pictures until the very end where he tears down the wall and breaks free.”


Ok, so perhaps the story takes place partially in the USA—and it is American fascism, not European fascism that is Roger Water’s worry.


Another small synopsis points out, “The life of the fictional rock star ‘Pink’ is the subject of the visually evocative cult film based upon the music and visions of the group Pink Floyd as portrayed in the album of the same title. Relationships, drug abuse, sex, childhood, WWII and fascism combine in a disturbing mix of episodic live action and lyrical animation drawn by British caricaturist Gerald Scarfe.”


I would have to say, despite the allusion to the USA, the Bricks in the Wall take place in young Pink’s European world of fascism, drugs, and Rock’n Roll.  On the other hand, the violence in schools roles began to change in the UK in the 1990s with children being massacred in a Scottish school.


By Spring 1992 Los Angeles was burning after the first Rodney King trial, too.


Finally, by the end of the 1990s massacres, like at Columbine High were far too common.


Now, in Germany, this is student on society or school violence is all too common place.


There seems to be a hunger and rage built up in some schools.  Hazing is not uncommon in any school, but society out of control and leading to violence and drugs is so much part of THE WALL story that one cannot help but feel that in 2009, the European fascist world is equally seen on both sides of the Atlantic—even in countries, like Germany where such violence was unheard of until about 2002.


On the other hand, the Cold War had kept a lot of societal divisions and social inequities, i.e. in terms of power and access to life choices, under wraps through the 1980s.  That is most of us were sure up through the early 1980s that the Superpowers would accidentally blow up the planet, so we were all out walking on eggshells a bit in those days.


Don’t forget how Roger Waters wrote in “Mother” of the bomb and our need to be calm and cool it:

Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
Mother do you think they’ll like this song?
Mother do you think they’ll try to break my balls?
Mother should I build the wall?
Mother should I run for president?
Mother should I trust the government?
Mother will they put me in the firing line?
Mother am I really dying?

Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
Mother’s gonna make all your nightmares come true.
Mother’s gonna put all her fears into you.
Mother’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.





The Berlin Wall was synonymous with the Cold War. On November 9, 1989, through an accident of history, the East German government allowed the Anti-Capitalist Protection Wall be opened up a day earlier than planned. Unlike the Cold War–filled as it was with fear, arms buildups, threats, distant wars, and lies—the thousands of protestors of East Germany in 1989 took a peaceful route to change.  They, the East German protestors, marched en masse to the key phrases, such as NO TO VIOLENCE and AGAINST ALL VIOLENCE that revolutionary year.


These sort of words mixed with thousands holding candles in their hands was too much for the communist fascist regime in East Germany in October and November.  They capitulated and the Berlin Wall was open.


Similarly, in “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)”, Pink had sung the following:

I don’t need no arms around me
And I don’t need no drugs to calm me.
I have seen the writing on the wall.
Don’t think I need anything at all.
No! Don’t think I’ll need anything at all.
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.
All in all you were all just bricks in the wall.

Could the “no arms” be understood as no-to-weapons by the masses in 1989 in Eastern Germany?


In any case, the peaceful end of the 1980s in Germany could be contrasted with the violence that we see in Germany, in the UK, in Spain, and the USA today in terms people finding peaceful ways to settle differences in and among members of peace loving societies.


On July 21, 1990 millions around the world watched or listened to THE WALL being performed on the NO MANS LAND near Potsdammer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate.  It was a metaphorical celebration to the end of an AGE.  That was an age when people could be walled in by their leaders—or the end of the age when masses would allow themselves to be walled in by others.


This excitement at beginning a new age is why I enjoyed the concert in Berlin of THE WALL on July 21, 1990 more than at any other time.


Interestingly, at that very moment, Saddam Hussein was planning to takeover and absorb his neighbor, Kuwait, within less than two weeks of that Berlin THE WALL event.


Our world has not been so peaceable since.






About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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