Berlin 1989


Twleve weeks before the Berlin Wall fell we were in Berlin.  The wall looked permanent.  It had grown higher and more fearsome than when I was in Berlin in 1964.  I know I wrote a travel diary of this trip but I have lost it, or I should say it is on a floppy disc for an Apple II which I can no longer read.  So I am telling this story from memory.

We took the S Bahn from the Zoo Station to the Friedrichstrasse Station in East Berlin.  The train runs over the wall and you can see guards as you cross.  We changed trains at Friedrichstrasse without officially entering East Berlin and went down to Check Point Charlie.  At Friedrichstrasse there are windows along the station platform where it looks like you can get duty free cigarettes; places where East Germany can earn some hard West German Marks.  A duty free shop in a train station.  The lines serve West Berlin but cross under East Berlin, which has ghost stations. Stations like Under den Linden which used to be lively but now are dark, with a few bare bulbs.  The entrances are bricked up.  From Checkpoint Charlie we walked along Zimmerstrasse, taking the pictures of the wall you see here, all the way to Potsdamer Platz.   These pictures are scans of faded prints from our scrapbook.

Twelve weeks later, in November, I was working at the radio station and we followed the news of the collapse of the wall.  Nothing happened at our staff meeting because we all listened to the BBC feed that we were carrying live.  I had decided to preempt everything to carry this bit of history.  But I was listening on the radio.  At about 3:30, when Brian got home from school, he called me, almost in tears, telling me that I had to come home and watch this on TV.  “They are dancing on the wall.”  I got home and we watched live, into the Berlin dawn.  We decided we had to go back, and we were able to go back the next summer.

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