Once there was a Wall- A Visit to the Berlin Wall in 1988
I visited Berlin in 1988…. when there was still a Wall. It was a rainy July, and the whole city seemed to be in black and white. Who knew that a year later there would be color. The next time I saw Berlin was in 2018. The Wall had been down for for close to 30 years, longer than it stood. Coming up from the U Bahn stop in the former East was disorienting… the Brandenburg gate, the buildings… Then I stood where the Wall once was. The imposing structure, designed to keep people in, was replaced by a line in the road.
It’s worth looking a little deeper at the Berlin Wall, to try and understand why it existed, and the scars it left behind.
Berlin Wall History
Let’s go all the way back to the end of World War II. Germany ended up being divided into sectors controlled by the victorious Allied Nations, United States, England, France, and the Soviet Union. In addition to dividing the nation, the Allies divided the city of Berlin into 4 sectors, each under a different nation’s control. What made this significant is the Berlin was deep in the Soviet sector… but as the former capital, the other countries wanted to keep some control. But the lines weren’t always clear, and the confusion caused by different rules and restrictions in different neighborhoods… even neighboring buildings… made the city difficult to control.
It got worse when East Germany, officially became a communist state under the USSR in 1949. The state planned economy and tight restrictions were unwelcome by many Germans. And, at the time, leaving was as simple as stepping over into the West. (If you can call leaving your whole life behind “easy”). The GDR /DDR lost thousands of citizens this way, many were young, educated or trained people, who took their talents and skills along. It was a brain and muscle drain that the East couldn’t afford. The hemorrhaging needed to be stopped.
So, they built a wall. Officially to keep the “fascist” Westerners out… but really, it was to keep the East Germans in.
Visit to the Berlin Wall
The Brandenburger Tor
This sign sent the message home to me.
Looking Over the Wall
I was shocked… they cut apartment buildings away from the wall… so no one could escape.
And then, on November 9, 1989… The Wall Came Tumbling Down
And Germany Could Finally Heal
October 3rd, 1990, was declared German Unity Day!
Learn more about the wall here.. History of the Berlin Wall
Recently I visited Berlin, and tried to get some Photos from the same Spots
I could photograph the Brandenburg Gate without a sign and wall in the way. It’s funny, when we came out of the Underground, I realized we were on the EAST side, where I could not go before. We even walked through it, so I could get this photo.
Checkpoint Charlie is a touristy spot… have your photo taken with guards in Soviet uniforms (that didn’t appeal to me at all). We did go to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. (This one is more interesting for adults than kids… lots of reading).
And the Berlin Wall… is reduced to souvenirs and novelty items
Now the Wall and it’s signs are just novelty items…
VEHFA 1962 Checkpoint Charlie Berlin Wall Vintage Look Reproduction Metal Tin Sign 12X18 InchesOriginal Piece of the REAL BERLIN WALL Mounted in Acrylic Display with Certificate of Authenticity – Authentic Historic German Artifact Souvenir from Europe – MEDIUM 3
The East Side Wall Gallery
You can still visit a section of the Wall… the East Side Wall Gallery is an open air museum worth visiting.
Learn more about it here–> East Side Wall Gallery
Visit to the Berlin Wall Today
You can see where the Berlin Wall stood, the pieces that are left, and both East and West Berlin. Take a tour with a knowledgeable Guide for a great experience.
Private 3.5-Hour Berlin Walking Tour: The Alternative Berlin Tour