David McWilliams: Ireland was the big winner from the fall of the Berlin Wall

After the wall fell, Ireland’s middle class expanded and mainland Europe’s shrank

East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin Wall after demonstrators pulled down the segment at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photograph: Lionel Cironneau/File/AP Photo

East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin Wall after demonstrators pulled down the segment at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photograph: Lionel Cironneau/File/AP Photo

Thirty years ago today the Berlin Wall fell. At the time it was widely thought that the main economic beneficiaries of the collapse of communism would be the former Soviet satellite states of eastern Europe, suddenly liberated from the stultifying grip of Marxism-Leninism.

This was particularly the case for countries such as Czechoslovakia and Hungary, which had impressive manufacturing bases before the second World War. The theory at the time was that educated and technically able communist workforces would embrace capitalism, attracting western investment due to relatively low wages, thus propelling those countries upwards.

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