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Chelsea14Ian

The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

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Its thirty years today marking the fall of the Berlin wall.As some of you may know,Marina is half German mum in law was from Berlin.Came to England as part of the Berlin air lift.We spent our honeymoon in West berlin in 1977.We returned two years ago on our 40th anniversary and in June this year.Berlin now is a very different place,with lots of investment taking place.We intend going back again in 2021.Back in 1977 moving around the city was not easy.We did visit East Berlin,firstly on a bus tour going through Checkpoint Charlie then by train which was far from easy almost an hour,having the border guards checking us over.Now its seem less.There are some very good museums charting a dictator and the war.We have been to a few,and very moving in deed.Not easy at times to take in,and almost unbelievable in the business of mass murder.If you are watching seens of the wall falling spare a thought for those that suffered during the war  and indeed the time the wall was up.

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One of my daughters was visiting West Berlin at that time as a member of a schools orchestra. East Berliners quickly made the orchestra welcome, the boarder opened and they opened their homes to them. My daughter ended up staying with a family who were brewers and they kindly gave her a bottle of liqueur lager to take home to her dad, lucky me!  Her other souvenir was a lump of wall, I still have the empty bottle and a brewery stein.  The orchestra played on both sides of the Brandenburg Gate as a part of the impromptu celebration, carrying their instruments and music stands through the newly opened gate.  

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Peter we also have pieces of the wall.Its still on sale in Berlin.I just wonder how much of it is the original wall now.

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I visited Berlin not long after the wall came down. The areas where the wall had been had yet to be redeveloped, but you could go freely anywhere and the old East side still felt like a different world. I remember going to the museum at Checkpoint Charlie and reading of the impact of the wall going up and the lengths people went to to reunite with family or loved ones.  

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I well remember the first Trabant to make it to Zeebrugge rolling off the Felixstowe ferry - it was given a standing ovation as it chugged through the car examination hall in a cloud of two stroke! Apparently they were going to London, hope they made it. 

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The Trabant,was the Rolls canhardly of East Germany. They rolled down the hill and could hardly get up the hill.:default_biggrin:

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1 hour ago, Chelsea14Ian said:

Peter we also have pieces of the wall.Its still on sale in Berlin.I just wonder how much of it is the original wall now.

My Sarah's lump was a piece that she retrieved herself but there is no way of identifying it as anything but a bit of rubble with paint on one side. I also suspect that many souvenirs of the wall are less than original! 

Going back to the 1960's I was in Germany as a civilian and I was made very welcome, clearly I was not there as a part of the occupying force thus my presence was welcomed rather than resented. At that time there was no Wall but the war damage was still widely tangible, especially in Hamburg. I always remember that every time I went to the pub toilet at least one Holocaust survivor would come up and show me the numbers tattooed on their arm and want to shake my hand, even buy me a drink, simply because I was English.   

 

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I must add that what I saw was a fortified barrier as such but I don't recollect the Wall. There was a very clear, threatening  barrier, at least that's what I saw. Afraid that I missed the time limit to edit my previous comment.

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Working for a German company with its headquarters in West Berlin, I first visited the city in 1977. The West was quite impressive, especially the Kurfurstendamm. As part of the visit we took a cach trip to the East - through the notorious 'Check Point Charlie'.

On boarding the coach in the K'damm we were told by the West German guide about the 'do's' and 'don'ts' of visiting the East side. Upon arriving at the border check point our West Berlin driver and guide left the bus, to be relaced by East germans. This guide loudly and with pride announced her Communist Party membership and allegiance. She also 'explained' that contrary to popular belief in the West, there were NO Russian military in East Berlin. 

Then the Passport checks began. A fierce looking woman took each document in turn and scrutinised it ( and each of us) in a manner I had never experienced before - or since !

She was accompanied down the bus by a soldier, with an AK47 at porte. Of course we had been told that there were no Russian military there - but I sare I saw a bit of snow on his boots !

The wall itself was a very sobering sight - especially the section we were taken to where most of the early escape attemps took place,, a large number resulting in death, and each memorial told a sad story.

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As I said we did the bus as you did,but also visited Marinas mums old boss in the East travelling on our own.Passport checks etc conducted in German or Russian, not in any other language. That said glad we made the trip before the wall came down.

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We had just moved into our house West of Hamburg (from a small flat) days before the wall(s) fell (not just in Berlin).

As fortune would have it my new glider/sailplane was ready for collection from the manufacturers near Karlsruhe on the 9th November 1989.  I drove down the A7 / A5 Autobahn in my 72 hp Golf II accompanied by a club colleague as my wife had to stay at home with our 6-mth old son.  We arrived at the manufacturers early afternoon & did the acceptance work, arranging to pick up the trailer the next morning outside the factory.  We could not understand what was going on on the radio (this was before the days of mobile phones).  Apparently my wife was sat in tears in front of the TV.

The next day we hitched up the trailer & drove back North (poor Golf struggling up the hills) getting passed by trabbis.  My club colleagues could only say "whats going on?"  We got home to find a trabbi parked in our neighbour's drive.

Some years later during one of my parent's visits I flew my father in our club's motorglider through the Hamburg CTR and further East to Neustadt-Glewe.  At that time you could clearly see where the dividing line between East & West Germany had still been. 

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As a 17/18 year old hanging around Kiel, Hamburg, Cuxhaven & Bremerhaven I knew nothing about the politics of the time, nor did I really care if I'm honest, I was just there to sail boats and visit a few clubs! A different world back then. However I do remember the passion & desperation of the many displaced persons that were abundant back then. One night we were wind-bound in Bremerhaven, moored close to a breakwater with the instruction that we were not to land for whatever reason. We had a 'pongo' aboard from the British Kiel Yacht Club as extra crew, he understood German which was a help. Sometime after dark two women were calling out to us from the breakwater. We thought that they were ladies of the night but we were skint and all of said said no/nein but clearly they were desperate so our useful pongo tried to strike up a conversation. The conclusion was that one was mum, the other the daughter. The mother seemed keen to get her daughter out of Germany and to the UK.  Anyway, when we arrived back in Lowestoft the HM Customs rummage crew was waiting for us but we were all legit. Maybe just pure coincidence but we were just four students and a member of the Royal Tank Corps aboard a rather tired Virtue sailing boat that had crossed the North Sea in a gale. Skint but we were not people smugglers! All I brought home, apart from memories, was a boot shaped glass from Cuxhaven that had caught my fancy. Germany was a vibrant, somewhat confusing country back in the early sixties. 

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On exercise it was very noticeable how more friendly and cooperative  the germans were as you got closer to the east German border. John

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