My second visit to Berlin although it's actually my first visit since the unification of Berlin as well as Germany about 30 years ago. The purpose of my visit was to determine if I'd remember much of the city -- especially the West Berlin neighborhoods. I'm embarrassed to admit that the city seemed quite foreign to me. Indeed, it is a foreign city but in '82, I spent nearly a week there. I wasn't ready to graduate as a tourist leader but I covered much ground during my stay but things still felt foreign.
A few examples of change in the last 37 years include moving the Hauptbahnhof to an entirely new and modern location. In fact, during this most recent visit, I couldn't even find the old Hauptbahnhof. I was quite disoriented during my 5-day visit -- In the absence of a barrier, new neighborhoods cohabitated and developed a comfy place to live. Many of these newer neighborhoods have been established in the former East Berlin so, in a way, I guess it's not surprising that Berlin felt quite foreign to me.
Two doves, representing peace, are in the process of removing the Brandenburg gate – alles offen – all should be open and free. Of course, the removal of this famous gate is merely a metaphor for all people to live freely.
Many people wanted peace and freedom which was not manifested during the Cold War. A stark example was the East Germans (who built the Berlin Wall) looked at this barrier as a geopolitical issue. Regular citizens simply wanted peace and free and this wall for too many years separated family and friends from this basic human desire.
Der Geist ist wie Spuren der Vögel am Himmel' – 'Thoughts are like the traces of birds in the sky'.
At first glance, I knew the expression was deep in hopes for the East German to tear down this evil divider between similar Germans based on history, language, and culture.
During the festivities of the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic of East Germany in 1979, photographer Regis Bossu was able to take a photograph of the decisive moment wherein Leonid Brezhnev and President Erich Honecker were practicing a socialist fraternal kiss. After the photograph was taken, a lot of magazines used it immediately with one magazine captioning it as “The Kiss”.
Depicting the emblematic act for the communists, Bossu’s photograph epitomizes the whole communist world. It symbolizes a mighty site of the Cold War: the Eastern Bloc, thus in a way the Cold War itself.
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Each rose given for each of the dead among these individuals (136) merely trying to escape to freedom. It appears that the majority of these 136 occurred during the initial 5-years of the installation of the Berlin Wall (1961-1989).
Die fortsetzung des krieges mit anderen mitteln...Politics is the continuation of war by other means.
In 1808, the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz wrote in the notes of his most important intellectual heritage the book "Of the War", which: "War is nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means. War is therefore not just a political act, but a genuine instrument of politics, a continuation of the political process, a continuation but in a different way.
A post-WWII map of East and West Germany until 1989. By viewing the map, when Germany was divided, it was dissected into 4 different regions: French Sector, American Sector, British Sector, and Soviet Sector. By normal viewing, shortly after WWII, it looks as though the Soviets (and East Germany) almost captured half of Germany. Also, for those geographically challenged, at the time, Berlin was located in East Germany (Soviet sector) and was also divided up between these 4 nations until 1989. At the time, many West Germans in order to escape military duty were able to travel to West Berlin to escape that obligation.
I read somewhere that the Germans at the time wanted "free travel, not mass flight."
Checkpoint Charlie, leaving the American sector…Today it's mobbed by tourists with iPhone cameras. All of this looks completely different from 1982.
Further evidence that the Wall has been removed as one of the greatest symbols of capitalism is seeing the Golden Arches on both sides of the former divide.
As you can see by the caption on the right, East German citizens flee from the Hungarian border into Austria. The cutting of the border fence between Hungary and Austria in June of '89 showed the division of post-war Europe was coming to an end.
On 27 June 1989, the then foreign ministers of Hungary, Gyula Horn, and Austria, Alois Mock, cut through a section of the barbed wire that had divided their countries for decades. This symbolic act marked the beginning of the end for communist governments in central and eastern Europe.
Hungary had started dismantling border fortifications with Austria in early May 1989, but when pictures of the cutting were published around the world thousands of East Germans were inspired to leave their country and head to Hungary in the hope of traveling to the west. After allowing some to leave for West Germany via Austria in August, Hungary finally decided to let all East Germans out from 11 September 1989. Within two months, the Berlin Wall had fallen (9 November) and Germany’s reunification was formalized in October 1990.
How the transition was going to work, the two German governments negotiated a unification treaty in March of 1990 (Fall of the Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989).
Remnants of the Berlin Wall on display on the Potsdamer Platz (formerly in East Berlin).
Military might among the superpowers before East Berlin built the Wall. (Checkpoint Charlie looked awfully different then. Picture was taken pre-wall installation.)
Part of the Wall still standing. Berliners who are under the age of 30 may not have any recollection of the once divided Capitol.
Roland Jahn and Peter Rosch were stripped of their citizenship and deported to West Germany in 1983. (The other man to the left was simply 'photo bombing' although they had yet to coin that term.) They were expelled due to their heavy involvement in the peace movement in East Berlin. Once they settled in West Germany (actually staying in West Berlin), they continued their peace movement on the other side of the border. I'm sure they were welcomed with many warm arms in their quest to tear down the wall.