Friday, January 11, 2013

The Wall, snow & blue sky

Our last day in Berlin & it seemed appropriate to visit the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse.  Snow over night but a bright blue sky this morning.  Cars down our street were covered in snow and Lauren wrote ‘Hi Ainsley’ on the back of a little VW Golf parked outside our apartment block.  We caught the tram to Nord Bahnhof and then up to the memorial.  It is the last surviving part of the wall where both walls and the strip in the middle are pretty much intact.

The ‘death strip’ was 30m wide and patrolled by armed guards, secured with barbed wire & lit day & night.  Houses fronting/backing the wall were emptied of residents over a 4month period because too many of them were being used as escape routes.  Pictures of people jumping from 3rd & 4th story windows were pretty scary.  Luckily, this stretch of the wall was almost always patrolled on the western side by the fire brigade with nets to catch the jumpers.  There is documentation telling how a women who was 9months pregnant jumped. 

There is a pretty little cemetery that lay in the path of the wall, so the DDR government just tore down the wall, moved the graves and continued on it’s merry way. 

It had started to snow again and the whole area was quiet and white (and bloody cold).  We read our way through all the info boards, watched the short docos about people escaping out windows, looked at where the various escape tunnels went and looked at the new Church of Reconciliation.  The old one was originally built 1894 but when the wall went up it was in ‘no mans land’ and cut off from the parishioners.  The DDG government ordered it’s demolition in 1985, but a chapel was built in 2005 using some of the rubble of the old one.

By now it was lunch time so we jumped a tram to Alexanderplatz for some food & some shopping.  Mindful of the available space in my case I only bought one pair of shoes (cute little red suede boots).  It gets dark here about 4.30 so we headed home. 

The “Hi Ainsley” that Lauren had written in the snow this morning was still there and by the time we’d had a cuppa & checked emails etc it had started to snow again.  Dinner in a micro-brewery at Alexanderplatz saw the most enormous servings we’ve encountered so far.  We waddled back to the train and headed home to pack. 

Tomorrow we’re off to Bremen and Lauren heads back to Worms.

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