Wednesday, February 15, 2012

East Germany - Berlin - 4.6.1970

From my notes:

Arrive Berlin Ost (East) 7:19am.  Leave luggage at Station catch train to the Wall!  Walk about a bit, get chased by Soldiers because we took a photo.*  We eat well because we have so many Marks.  Leave Berlin Ost 9:23pm.  Passport checks again on train but had more sleep this time.

 I found this in my coin bowl... it's all we have left of East German money.

I see from my notes that we only spent 14 hours in East Berlin, but that was enough, it wasn't much fun, we were rich for the first time ever with our 'under the counter' Marks but there was nothing to buy or spend it on, I can't remember what we had for lunch but by the look of my notes it was plenty compared to our self enforced penny pinching in Copenhagen, (we didn't have much cash and what we had had to last months!)   If we walked into a shop or a cafe everyone stopped, the place went silent and they just stared at us... we must have stood out as weird tourists... but it was so uncomfortable we left without buying or ordering anything.

* We walked as close as we could get to the wall which was very close to the centre of town, we saw one guard box up on the wall, way way in the distance and they obviously saw us, through binoculars, when we took some photos of the Wall.  It was easy for them to see us because all the buildings near the wall had been demolished and the land was nothing but rubble.   As we were walking back to town this great big motorbike caught up to us, on it were two very young soldiers one of whom pointed an old rifle at us and demanded our passports.  We showed them the passports then they wanted our camera and the film in it.* The soldiers looked so young I don't think they had started shaving yet and the one with the gun was shaking so much it was almost laughable.  David said no he wasn't going to give them our film and told them we were leaving Berlin in a few hours for Poland and they went back to their guard post where we could now see the glint of binoculars.  I found two old booklets given to us by the East Berlin Tourist Bureau.  They make for fascinating reading some of which I will share with you.

*This film did go missing in the USA later on!  Mmmmm... very suss!

 I can't remember finding any 'Centres of culture and sport', or 'Sights worth seeing', shopping was very boring and of such poor quality.  But we did go on an Excursion on the river though!

 We never went to West Berlin but friends who did in those days said it was a wonderfully vibrant place and compared it to San Francisco... the comparison being that both cities lived under threat, West Berlin because it was totally surrounded by East Germany and San Francisco because it lived with the fear of earthquakes! 

 The second booklet has some interesting photos and facts in it.

 The right photo is below. 

 I find the caption with this photo quite amusing...

Always surrounded is the model of the future city centre at Berlin Information or the district building office.  Guests from all over the world are greatly interested in the shaping of the capital of the German Democratic Republic.

Well..... one man is looking at his watch, the man on his right is frowning, the two in front look like they are enjoying a little snooze, those in the back look like they're saying... 'When will this be over, we want to get out of here?' and the woman is saying ... 'Get on with it will you and a little less fist thumping would be good!'  :-)

 Here is the plan for Alexanderplatz and below from Google Earth today.  #21 is the railway station which you can see below, some of the buildings look the same.

 Good old Walter Ulbricht above and below Herbert Fechner, Mayor of Berlin.

 This is Karl Marx Allee with modern residential buildings, restaurants and shops which came into existence in 1963/4.  In the background the House of Teachers.

 Here is a Google Map of the river we cruised on, we were fascinated to see some wonderful big old homes right on the river, all in disrepair though.

That's Schildow in what used to be West Germany at the top of this picture and below Schonefeld also in what was West Germany... the blue line I've drawn is sort of where the wall used to be.

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