I seem to be the lucky charm when it comes to sunshine and blog writing as we awoke to splendid blue skies again today. We had to unfortunately wait around for a little while as we had to change accommodations for our next two nights in Berlin as our accommodation was fully booked. So it wasn’t until 11.30 before our sightseeing got started. Today was all about “The Wall”.
We caught the metro or U-Bahn as they call it here to a reconstructed section of the wall along Berliner Straus. Here they had reconstructed the wall as it was before it was destroyed including the dead zone on the East side. So the wall was really an inner wall on the East side, then a signal fence which if you touched it alerted the guards on the towers, then a dead area that was lit up 24 hours a day which was about 50-100 meters away from the big wall which was 12 feet high. So anyone who tried to get over that way were pretty much sitting ducks. The area was a memorial really for all the people who lost their lives trying to escape. In total over 130 people lost their lives trying to escape from east to west. The border guards had an order to use any force necessary to stop the escapers.
They had some really amazing pictures of the street and what it looked like just after the war to when the wall was built and over the years becoming a fortified border. This included the demolition of a church and the exhuming and moving of bodies from the cemetery as it bordered the wall. The lengths the East went to, to build this wall was crazy. I must admit it was pretty momentous to touch something that was so historic in my lifetime. It still seems pretty ridiculous to me that anyone would think to split up a country and city into 4 different sections and think that it would all run smoothly????? How hard it must have been for the East Berliners to see the progress that was being made on the other side of the wall and you were struggling to buy toothpaste or toilet paper. This trip for me has been a really great WW2 learning expedition and it seems very fitting to finish in Berlin.
The next stop was further south to a section of the wall that stayed intact (a lot of it was destroyed pretty quickly) and has been turned into a mural. Unfortunately huge sections had a wire fence erected along it to stop graffiti which kind of hindered you from fully appreciating the artwork as you had to look between the wire. But there were sections unprotected and on one of the sections we were approached by two young German art students who needed people to hold up pictures in front of the wall. They promised us they would email us a photo when finished so looking forward to that.
On our way home we passed the Mercedes offices which had several of their racing cars on display. Two of which were Formula one cars from 2012 and 2013 seasons. I didn’t realize how tiny they were!
From here we headed over to the Holocaust memorial. I was expecting something pretty big considering we were in Germany and it was very impressive. About the size of several football fields and filled with grey concrete columns or boxes of varying heights. When you walked in and were surrounded by these monotoned structures you definitely felt a little unnerved. After everything that we have seen over the last month through Eastern Europe it’s just very hard to comprehend what was done.
Fittingly across the road was the bunker where Hitler killed himself at the end of the war. Now just a car park with a very little sign explaining the layout of the vast bunker that was underneath and where the man that inflicted so much pain on the world spent his last weeks of life. S
Looking out from East to West.
The reconstructed fortifications. Looking from front to back you have the outer wall, dead space, then signal fence then inner wall. Also the watch tower on the left. I don’t think I would try to escape over land. Which is why a lot of escapees tried to tunnel themselves out.
Old wall section.
As you can see the art work was great but the metal fence was a tad annoying.