The Berlin Wall

February 22, 2012 § 11 Comments

Bernauer Stresse Berlin. Dec 21, 2011.

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.

First glimpse of the wall! Berlin. Dec 21, 2011.

Some original walls standing on the side of the park/lawn like some huge gravestones. Berlin. Dec 21, 2011.

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 themโ€ฆโ€ฆbut 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.

Definitely a great sight. With the history in the foreground and the modern vibrant city in the back. Berlin. Dec 21, 2011.

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§ 11 Responses to The Berlin Wall

  • You just gave me goosebumps Katharine.

  • Arjan Tupan says:

    Nice post, Kath. The wall had a huge significance when I grew up, and when I was in Berlin for a few hours, I went to see Checkpoint Charlie. I think it’s great that they have preserved pieces of it, and give so much information.
    Interestingly, close to my home in Riga, there’s a piece of the wall as a monument. For countries like Latvia, the fall of the wall is very much linked to their own freedom from Soviet rule. However, they renovated the monument last year. Making a new ‘stand’ for it, and also cleaning it. They removed the original graffiti in the process. I think that’s a bit weird. See the pictures in my post on it here:
    http://www.aclearbluesky.net/?p=642

    • Katharine says:

      Thanks for sharing the post on Graffiti. But a piece of Berlin Wall in Riga? Tha’s quite interesting. Consider it sounds like the German said “Hey, we have a piece of the horrible history to give you as a gift!” Can’t quite understand the concept behind giving away a section of wall that torn people’s family apart.

      On the other hand. It’s quite amazing that some monument were sculpted from expensive marble, and no one really pay much attention to it. Whereas, the Berlin Wall, even just a small part of its concrete, makes you feel so much and gets all the respect it deserves. and so right. they shouldn’t clean it! Graffiti is part of the history too! Just build a new one if they want to see it “clean” and free of history.

      Before I left Berlin, I also visited the DDR museum. Even more interesting information on the life of people under the Soviet rule. Great presentation on the whole deal actually.

      • Arjan Tupan says:

        Ah, but don’t forget: Latvia was also one of the Soviet-ruled countries. The fall of the Berlin wall was a very significant event for all these states, because it was the beginning of the end for Soviet rule. So, countries like Latvia have a good reason to commemorate that wall.

        Still, the cleaning part I don’t understand.

        • Katharine says:

          I believe it must be a beautiful and hopeful moment, for those under the Soviet rule, when the wall came down ๐Ÿ™‚ Just wondering, don’t they (those former soviet ruled countries) have something else from the past that represent that part of their history?

          I mean, I’m sure the soviet must have left their footprints in Latvia that can now be a monument.

  • Nikos/Inflight Feed :) says:

    Kath

    Nice read! Took me back to when I visited in January last year!

    Well done ๐Ÿ™‚

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