Touching the Berlin Wall

Monday, 9 November 2009
I had the chance to visit Berlin for a week in the winter of 2007. My travel group was there to experience the German culture and study the Berlin Wall. We started out one night by standing at the Brandenburg Gates west of the city center.

Our guide talked specifically about the prejudices that had occurred at these gates which served as a check point for people coming in and out of the "free" part of downtown Berlin.

I went to the Berlin Wall museum by myself on a cold, grey day. It was silent on the afternoon streets and fat snow flakes were falling. I trailed along the mile of the wall that still stands and felt a small part of the historic solitude and division the wall represents.

There were small holes in the wall and standing on my toes, I could see through to the other side but I could only see pockets of the deserted yard, not really witness life in motion.

The Berlin wall was built with guard towers including armed guards. In the museum, the guards are photographed with guns raised watching for anyone that would dare try to illegally cross over.

I quietly looked at photos of people who would stand on one side of the wall in an area where it was shorter to try to see friends and family in "East Berlin." One woman is depicted holding her baby up over her head to people on a balcony on the other side of the wall. I imagined that was the only way she could share the news of the proud birth of her little boy with those on the other side.

Today, I'm celebrating the razing of the wall 20 years after it happened. I touched the cement and felt the oppression of a city and country divided, some unable to have certain rights because of the location of their street in a large European city in the 1960s.


Pavitra said...

Beautiful post. I am yet to see the Berlin wall. It's amazing how knowing the history of a place makes it speak to you of its own accord.

Ted Stryk said...

I am so glad they preserved that section. When I was there in 1999, the plan was to remove every last bit of it.