The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall Reminds Us- Who Is Your Role Model?

Credits: Wikimedia commons

Credits: Wikimedia commons

November 9, 2014, marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In spirit of this, I wanted to take the opportunity to write about my grandmother, a German woman who lived through World War Two. An incredibly inspirational woman to me and one of my role models.


Imagine, it is 1945 in East Germany, the interim between World War Two and the Cold War. A young woman has just learned that her husband was killed fighting in aerial combat on the western front, leaving her widowed with a five year old child (a little girl). Russian soldiers have seized her family home and bank accounts, and have closed the hospital in which she worked. She is twenty-four years old (one year older than myself). You can only imagine what she’d be feeling.

But, emotions aside, the young woman now had to make a decision. And take action. In 1947, she decided to attempt the border crossing from East to West Germany. This was a huge risk. The border at this time was heavily guarded and extremely dangerous. Her aim, once she successfully crossed to West Germany, was to find stable employment. Then she would return to East Germany to collect her daughter, and make the crossing a second time.

The night of her first attempt came. She was terrified, but knew the area well. With one suit case, and no money, she walked the 2 kilometres to the border. She could see guards everywhere, so squeezed into some bushes to hide herself. Finally she reached the very small and narrow river where she intended to make the crossing. Looking down at the river, she heard gun shots and shouting in the distance. It was now or never. She jumped. She swam without looking back until she had reached the other side. She had made it to the British zone, and could not believe her luck. After walking to the nearest city in the West, she was able to sell some of her personal items for a bit of money in order to stay and look for work, which she eventually found in a chocolate factory. She was now eager to go back to collect her daughter.

The young woman crossed the border via the same river back into the Russian zone. By pure chance, she met a couple who had special passes to cross the border legally, who offered to help her. The very next morning, sticking close behind the couple, she and her daughter snuck across the border back into the British zone, hand in hand.


Life will throw you all sorts of obstacles and risks, but as bad these may seem, there is always a way out if you believe in yourself, and don’t give up.

In moments of grief and worry it could be so easy to crumble, to feel like giving up. However the young woman in the story, my grandmother, did the exact opposite. In those moments, she made the decision to be strong. She made the decision to do whatever necessary to get what she wanted: the chance of a better life for herself and her daughter.

My grandmother lived her youth in a time before the tech-driven world we know existed. However, as I grow older and continue to remember her story, it becomes more and more apparent how her drive, resourcefulness, passion and pure grit would have allowed her to thrive if she were a young woman starting a career today. In addition, she supported me in travelling to Boston, where I am trying to start my own career. Here I am experiencing a world of startups, innovation, and (even more) inspiring people.

For all of this, my grandmother will always be a role model to me, and I will never be able to thank her enough.

It is my hope that everyone has a role model (or models) like this in their life. They are so important for your personal development. Role models show you the importance of having something in life that you’re passionate about. They teach you about commitment, and guide you in overcoming any obstacle. They also demonstrate how to make the best out of the life that you have, as well as how to grab every good opportunity that comes your way.

Role models must be chosen carefully. They must be people who have a sound set of values, and live by these everyday. They must never fail to inspire you. They must make you feel confident in yourself.


You may already have someone in mind, or it may be someone you’ve never thought of until now. Chances are, they have no idea of their value to you.

So today, give them a call, and say thank you. You’ll both feel great as a result.


Photo on 3-10-2014 at 5.29 pm #2 copyAmelia is an adventurous 20-something Australian who wants to share her passion for writing and interpersonal connection with the world. She graduated from Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) in February 2014 with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and International Business. Since then, she has moved to Boston where she is currently a student at Startup Institute and hopes to begin her career as a content marketer.
Read more about and from the author: Amelia’s WiLab Profile

Originally posted 2014-11-13 12:00:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter