As World War II ground to a conclusion, the Allied powers divided Germany into four occupation zones governed by the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France. By a separate agreement, Berlin was also divided into four zones of occupation and became somewhat of an island in the middle of the Soviet controlled German zone.
In 1955, the three western zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949, and the Soviets followed suit in October 1949 with the establishment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). However, Berlin remained under military command of the four powers until the fall of the Wall in 1989. This made for some unusual living conditions for both the West German citizens living in the British, French and U.S. sectors as well as the soldiers who worked in the city.
One of the most ludicrous sites was seeing these huge, hulking tanks with full treads running up and down the streets of Berlin. Can you imagine going to a Wawa and seeing a foreign tank in the parking lot? Or going into center city Philadelphia to a show and seeing a string of tanks rolling down Broad Street?
These tanks had tremendous exhausts. I wouldn’t be surprised if a person could be blown over if standing behind one when it revved up to start rolling. So, the standard wisdom was, don’t get caught between two of them (which I was more than once) and try to keep your distance because they didn’t have signals for turning, brake lights for stopping or much concern about whom they ran over.