The border between West and East Berlin was literally shut down overnight when East German troops moved in during the night of August 12, 1961. Before day break, they had torn up streets entering West Berlin, put up concrete posts and strung barbed wire to prevent anyone from crossing what had been an open border. This was the beginning of what would become the notorious Berlin Wall. To those of us who lived or worked there during that period, it was just The Wall.
Whichever side of the border a person woke up on that morning in August, they were stuck there for what turned out to be decades. Some 255 people died trying to cross the border from East to West Berlin and another 371 lost their lives trying to cross the border between West Berlin and East Germany.
November 9 of this year, 2014, will mark the 25th anniversary of the Wall coming down. An entire generation has grown up in a world in which Germany has been one country. Many of this generation is probably hearing the term “Cold War” for the first time in relation to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in the Ukraine. Sitting like an island in the midst of communist East Germany, known then as the German Democratic Republic, Berlin’s story during the period before the reunification of Germany is a unique one, one filled with intrigue and one whose impact is still being felt today by the people whose countries, like Ukraine, were once part of the former Soviet Union.
Periodically over the next few months leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Wall’s destruction, I will discuss what living in the shadow of that wall was like, its impact on citizens on both sides and some of the factors that led to its demise. Hope you’ll stop by and add some comments of your own,