Berlin is a city with a divided past.
Living as an expat in Germany has flung wide History's door and left me wishing I had paid better attention in World History. The little I remember is disgraceful and I suppose I'm trying to make up for lost time by learning…well…everything now. I've tapped the fire hydrant, pressed my lips to its mouth and I'm gulping 'til my eyes bulge like baseballs.
Ignorance aside, standing in the presence of spectacular architecture and art, walking in the steps of heroes and villians and everyman from centuries past, you can't help but be moved…
Berlin eclipsed expectation.
It's an important city whose history wasn't confined to state or even country. The decisions made by its leaders for her people affected the world.
My next post will share my Top Ten must-sees for Berlin tourists, but today I wanted to highlight the iconic Berlin Wall, its fall synonymous with the end of Communist reign in Germany. To see it, touch it and meander its stories alone is worth a trip to Berlin. Add it to your Bucket List.
Yes, Berlin is a city with a divided past, but thankfully her present tells a much different story.
Interesting Berlin Wall Facts:
- The Wall dividing East and West Germany (and East and West Berlin) was constructed overnight on August 13, 1961 by the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
- The "Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the 'will of the people' in building socialist state in East Germany;" in reality it was to prevent defections of East Germans to West. Over 2.7 million people had defected prior to the Wall's construction, crippling the East German economy and undermining political gain.
- Construction of the Wall took place in different phases over the course of 19 years. Early itinerations of barbed wire gave way to reinforced concrete.
- Initially the Wall was 87 miles long; eventually it was extended to over 100.
- Its fall began on November 9, 1989 after Hungary opened its borders to East Germans; demolition wasn't completed until October 1990 completing reunification and establishing Germany as one country.
- Graffiti was only on the West German side.
- Accounts vary for the number of East Germans murdered trying to defect to West Germany; sources suggest over 80 and as many as 200. Countless more were imprisoned for attempting to or helping others escape.