Sunday 28th October
Started the day early and found it very quiet in the streets. It was a Sunday I suppose plus the clocks had been turned back overnight and it was very cold.
We jumped on the bus again and it took one bus change and about 90 minutes to get to the area where the wall still exists for a few hundred metres and there are remaining concrete structures, remnants of churches, grave yards and a fantastic amount of interpretative signage, photography, sculptures, plaques and video and audio outlets to experience.
There are lines of steel in the ground indicating where tunnels had been dug in efforts to escape from the East to the West.
The more information you absorb, the more ridiculous this situation seemed. And to think this was all in our lifetimes.
So the war ended and Germany was dissected into 4 sections for the allies to “manage” (ie Russia, US, UK and France).
Likewise this was how Berlin was broken up. However Berlin as a whole was geographically in the middle of the Russian managed section of the east.
This presented many issues and as the US pumped money into repairing the western section of Berlin this was not reflected in the east or Russian section so clearly it was a better life in the west. This resulted in more and more Berliners moving to the west to live and much to the disappointment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), working under the direction of Russia as it was the more skilled, educated and young that made this change. So in 1961 the GDR determined this had to stop and created a wall. Initially this was a wire fence but over a short period of time became multiple high concrete walls complete with watch towers, flood lighting and the space between parallel walls known as the death strip. Up to 11000 armed guards patrolled the area. where around 140 people lost their lives trying to breach these walls.
I imagine people would be feeling their lives would be better when the war ended in 1945 but then found themselves living under more fear for decades.
It was another very solemn experience for us today but again so very important to see and to share in the hope that this sort of simply stupid human behaviour is never repeated. (Mexico?)
It was a long day today but we arrived back to base around 3 and had a fantastic lunch / dinner in a restaurant near our hotel. We will be going there again before we leave Berlin.
Tomorrow we will be back on the bus to spend the day in the city centre.