Sun 24 April
On Sunday, our German family took us for our second history lesson. We walked around areas in Berlin where the wall had once divided socialism from capitalism, East from West, Russia from the Western Allies. It is beyond the mind’s capability to imagine how different it would have felt taking the same stroll a mere 27 years ago.
A Little Furry Friend we saw down the Road (Squirrel)
Berlin Cathedral on Museum Island
The building of the wall was an incredible feat which had never been done with quite the same rapidity ever before. In only one day the border between West Berlin and Russian owned Eastern Germany was closed. On 13 August 1961 the first stage of 'The Anti-Fascist Protectionist Wall' was constructed of barbed wire and light fencing, but within the next week a more permanent structure replaced the wire and fencing. The East Germans and Russians utilised the massive amounts of rubble found around post World War II East Germany to erect a roughly constructed wall of concrete blocks and bricks. The wall went through three or four major stages in its lifetime, the fourth being the concrete segments which can be found around the city today, 3 metres tall which were topped with a round concrete tube to increase the difficulty of climbing.
Old Segments of the Berlin Wall
In the very places where we ambled along, East Germans would have been fleeing for their lives across the infamous death strip, having to scramble over vicious barbed wire fences, dodge deadly bullets and the all-seeing beams of light from watch towers. We stood on the ground along Bernauer Straße which had once contained secretly built tunnels where men and women had quietly dug from the East Berlin apartment buildings underneath the wall to safety in West Berlin from the communist regime. It was unbelievable to imagine that people had lost their lives in these very streets such a relatively short time ago. The day was concluded in quiet reflection on the horrors and griefs of the past as we rode the peaceful S-Bahn train through the city back towards Zehlendorf.
The infamous Death Strip