Oh, I know, so confusing.
After the end of World War II, the city was divided into four sectors. The Western Allies (U.S., U.K. and France) formed West-Berlin. The Soviet Union controlled East Berlin. In 1961 the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic built a wall around West-Berlin. 'To keep out the fascists and capitalists, who threatened to enter their country'. Actually, they had to build the wall to prevent their own people from fleeing the East through that loop hole, called West-Berlin. Well, you can read up on the historical background, but what was it like to live in West-Berlin at the time of the Cold War?
The wall was a constant reminder that we were living in an occupied city. We were surrounded by it and it was very visible and intimidating. The Brandenburger Gate (Brandenburger Tor) a prominent symbol of Berlin was on the east side, close to the wall and heavily guarded by the communist soldiers. On the west side, we could walk up to platforms, which were set up for the tourists to peek over the wall to admire the monument, take photos and be watched by the guards, probably with their guns aimed at us.
The three allied sectors were not visibly marked but there was a lot of military presence.
We enjoyed visiting their annual summer fairs like the "Deutsch-Amerikanisches Volksfest" where we would look forward to a Michelob beer and some burgers and hot dogs. The "Franzoesisches Volksfest" offered many delicacies like crepes and frog legs. I can't remember if the British sector celebrated anything, maybe the Queen's birthday.
|Trying our luck at a shooting booth in 1979|
The subway (U-Bahn) would still run under old parts of Berlin which were now allocated to the East, but it would not stop at those stations, you would just ride through them and the empty platforms would pass by in a ghostly way. The tram above ground (S-Bahn) would just end its tracks at the wall. Everything close to those areas was so eerie and they always frightened me.
Of course, when we had friends or family visiting, which happened a lot, we would take them to all the tourist spots in Berlin, so our photo albums are full with pictures in front of the wall, in front of the Brandenburger Gate and at Checkpoint Charlie.
|Brandenburger Tor with In-Laws in 1979|
|Glienicke Bruecke 1979|
We had our own encounters with the East which I will get to in time.