The Berlin Wall
February 22, 2012 § 11 Comments
Seeing the Berlin wall was one of the reason I took this trip. This urge was probably triggered by my last visit to the Omaha Beach along the Normandy coast. Even though the Omaha Beach and the wall wasn’t a direct cause and significance, I just felt that the wall was the next thing I must see. Some people said it’s just a wall, nothing really impressive to see there besides the history behind. Some people told me they only spent a brief moment in front of it, took a few pictures and that’s it. Of course I was more interested in it compare to those folks.
Looking at the slightly less confusing tram map, I jumped on a tram and looked at the street of Berlin from the tram for the first time. Strangely I felt “at home” in this unfamiliar place, which I’ll explain in later post. After I got off the tram, got lost for a few corners (my free city map wasn’t precise at all), I saw a roll of steel bars with a patch of green lawn on one side of it. A little further was a concrete wall. Right there, I was standing on Bernauer Strasse. On the lawn, I saw a few light box displaying some stories in both German and English. It was quite a nice idea for outdoor display actually, especially the sky was getting dark.
After seeing some graffiti on some remaining wall section standing on the side of the lawn like some unattended gravestones, I walked into the Berlin Wall Memorial visitor center. It was a very small building displaying lots of old pictures and playing an documentary film in English every hour. There was also a very informative bookstore with everything related to the wall. The staff there was very friendly and enthusiastic as well. I overheard some Taiwanese girls pointed their fingers across the street and asked the staff, “Is that wall real?”. I know they meant to ask about the authenticity, but I couldn’t help but having an lol moment inside my head. Seriously, how much more real can it be as it’s already standing in front of you? Anyway, the lady was very kind and told them the long story (with visual aid from books and postcards in the bookstore) that the wall was built in different stages with different design, and the section out there was one of them……but I was quite sure the girls didn’t understand most of it, all they cared was that thing they took pictures with was the authentic wall. I don’t blame them, as I had the impression that there was only one Berlin Wall, in one design, being built once only.
Then I left the visitor center and walked down the block to the Documentation Center. At that time I wasn’t sure if this center was free to enter, nor what this exhibition was. But I saw the word “mauer” and no one stopped me or yelled at me in German, so I guess it was free and related to the Berlin Wall. First thing I did was to walk up to the observation platform. It was a remarkable experience to stood there, and see this former death zone. Both ends of the wall were sealed off by a metal wall, which is literally an “iron curtain”. Lots of lives had been lost right there for running towards freedom. It just made me so humble and grateful for everything I have today.