Monday, November 9, 2009

Berlin Wall - 20th anniversary of its fall

Today, Monday, November 9th, is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. The fall and the opening up of the border between the former East Germany (German Democratic Republic) and West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) marked a major turning point for not only Germans but also others in eastern Europe: the end of the Cold War! The view above is of the Pariser Platz with the Brandenburg Gate in the background. Below is a view of the famous gate at night. Both images show as it is now but such has not always been the case.
I have been to Berlin, Germany four times in my lifetime. The first time was before we came to Canada. I was nearing four years old, Germany was divided but the wall had not been built yet. The latter came in 1961 by which time we as a family had been here for several years. Before emigrating, while in Berlin I remember a visit to the Berlin Zoo and a trip on the streetcar in East Berlin. An aunt and uncle on my mother's side of the family lived there. I made my first return to Germany on my own when I was 18 years old. At that time I saw the wall from both sides going through Checkpoint Charlie to get between the western and eastern parts of the city. This trip included seeing the Brandenburg Gate from both sides. This was possible because I was a Canadian citizen by this point and could freely travel both sides of the city of Berlin unlike German citizens on both sides who had many restrictions placed on travels between the two Germanies.
Above is a section of the Berlin Wall looking from West Berlin as it appeared a couple of years before the fall. It consisted of two walls with a no man's land in between complete with barbed wire, mines and towers. All of this to keep people out but we all know it was to keep East Germans from escaping to the west! Little of it remains today but there are examples that can be found.
During my fourth time in Berlin in 1987 (before the wall was taken down), an excursion to see the Glienicke Bridge in the southwestern part of Berlin allowed me to see this famous bridge of the Cold War where spies were traded. I also got to see the parks and landscape on both sides of the border but from the western side only. That was my last time in Berlin and in Germany. I would love to see what it looks like today. The fall of the wall was not something I could imagine in my lifetime. The events of 1989 and onward unfolded very quickly and the result is certainly an important turning point in German history and that of Europe as a whole. All the images are from Wikipedia, so start there to check for more background information on all this. At some point I hope to have my own photos scanned in the computer, and when that is done, I post some of the best along with some commentary. - V.

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