Come on, there’s some serious history in Berlin, right? You’ve got all the Nazi and war history, but when the word Berlin pops in your head, what do you envision. Yeah, the Wall. Built in 1961, it cordoned off West Berlin until 1989! For 28 years there were two walls, with a death strip in the middle, around the entire 40+ kilometer circumference of West Berlin. Crazy! Places like Brandenburg Gate, once a bustling excise gate, didn’t have non-military people walking through it for 28 years!
So we had to check it out as much as we could. We signed up for a bike tour to take us around the highlights.
Alexis got to do a little spray painting again at one section …
Emma too …
We got the famous stretch of the wall at Bernauer Strasse…
… a site of many escape attempts and successes. And of tunnels under the death strip. Now it’s home to a Google incubator called the Factory …
But next door they did keep a stretch of the death strip intact as a memorial. Crazy to think that this snaked on for 40+km. For 28 years.
We saw one place where the S-Bahn was barricaded so that a train could not barrel through and escape to the West.
Why am I adding this picture of satellite dishes to a Berlin Wall post?
This building was in the West, and right on the edge of the Wall, overlooking it really. When Germany had it’s big influx of Turks to the city, the Turks didn’t mind being next to the Wall. The rest of Berliners considered those dangerous areas, as the East Germans could start shooting at any moment. But the Turks had come from way worse situations so they jumped on these apartments! So why the satellite dishes? So they can get news (and prayers) from home!
Our guide had a great knowledge of the Wall, and he certainly had no problems discussing difficult topics. When one of the Israelis on the tour asked about the height of the wall he replied, “Nowhere near as tall as *your* wall.” Nice! Addressing the 500 pound gorilla in the room straight up.
At one point on the ride back, we were going through a park, and a youngish German woman walking her dog started having strong words in German with our guide (he’s a native Kenyan, by the way, that’s important to the story), and he started replying very loudly, in German, with the only words I could recognize being “Eva Braun”. After he had calmed down, I asked him about the altercation. Turns out the lady had yelled at him to get rid of us tourists, and then addressed him directly saying “get the fuck out of here too, you fucking monkey.” He replied by calling her Eva Braun. Yup, true story.
Berlin Observation #5: Racism is alive and well in Germany! But hey, they don’t have a lock on it – look at the USA! #MAGA!