Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Berlin Wall


I am (just) old enough to remember the fall of the Berlin wall. When I was little I assumed that Berlin coincidentally spanned the line dividing East and West Germany, and that the wall was part of the longer national boundary - so it came as some surprise to see it on a map, some time after the reunification, and learn that West Berlin was actually quite far inside East Germany.

Most of the wall has been torn down, and Berlin today doesn't feel like a divided city. Most of the way, the route of the wall is marked only by a line of cobblestones (bottom photo), but at Bernauer Strasse there's a great memorial area where you can see a stretch of surviving wall. There are also a number of information boards, giving the history of the wall and its development. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried a little, reading so many stories of how people were affected. One of the great strengths of this exhibit is that it gives you named individuals and detailed accounts of escape attempts, not just dry facts and figures. Very sad and sobering to think that this was going on so recently, even in Europe.

Standing with one foot on either side of the boundary, I was glad that I could do so - but it felt very strange to think that such a thin barrier kept a nation divided for so many years.









christine said...

I can dimly remember the wall suddenly being erected, and the shock everyone felt at the enforced division of a country

Rachel said...

I was at University when the Wall came down, but since then I've been involved in translating some of the accounts of escapes and failed escapes. Very disturbing.

Fly Girl said...

Great shots. I like how they show the differing aspects of German identity. The country was divided for a long time and the wall is a constant reminder of that terrible situation.

helen tilston said...

Hello Rachel
Thank you for this update on the Berlin Wall.

I was in Berlin on business in 1984 and took a trip to East Berlin - it was a very sobering trip and not without a few tears. To think of the lives lost trying to escape was also sad. The poverty and shortage of food was also very sad. My vivid memory of this trip was returning to Berlin and coming through "check point Charlie" where the guards slid a mirror beneath the bus, ensuring no escapee was stored there. They also came on board our bus and felt all the luggage bins. Again to see if there was a person stored there.

Again thanks for the update

Helen xx

Jacqueline said...

It must be such a weird place to visit. All the stories and sadness :(

suzy henderson said...

Hi Rachel, great post. Very moving. Sad to think how the war ended for us by the late 40's (once those who could get home had done so)yet it was not so in Europe with Germany especially facing so much hardship & political turmoil.
On a different note, I'd like to nominate you for the One Lovely Blog Award. You have a fantastic blog and if it's ok with you, please see my post:

With very best wishes

AVCr8teur said...

I can understand why it was moving to be there. It is sad to see so many lives lost for wanting a better life just beyond a thin barrier.

maria verivaki said...

i was there as a solo graduate traveller just after the wall fell and then 20 years later with my family - wherever the wall used to stand, i still had feelings of condemnation and sadness; berlin is an amazing city to visit, but you are surrounded by reminders of war

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