A pre-Christmas trip to Berlin was the first time I had been to Germany. I was keen to go and see the history of the city as well as experience the German way of life which is subject to many stereotypes and probably not what most people expect. We stayed in the East of the city in Kreuzenburg in a cross between a hostel and a hotel. I had read about it before we left and thought it would be a perfect spot to see both sides of Berlin, close enough to the old East yet also close enough to the new East to see the regeneration and how it contrasts with the West. After checking in and having lunch in the open plan informal dining area, we walked into the city following the old wall that separated East from West. It was interesting, and to a point educational, to read the graffiti on the walls, some of which appeared to have been written a long time ago, when the thought of knocking the wall down was not even considered.
That afternoon we strolled through the Christmas market and had a Gluwein and a bratwurst on our way to the ‘West’. The contrast between the two sides was stark, a clear indication of where the money and power used to lie. The architecture and quality of shops was the clearest signal as was the type of person that you observed in the two areas.
The following morning we took a tram to ……… where there is a museum based at the site of the old Berlin Wall which tells the history of the wall and how the lives of the people who lived on both sides evolved through the years of the wall. How families were torn apart and lived separate lives for years and how those who dared to try and cross the divide were brutally treated.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around trying to take in what we had read and trying to create a picture in our minds as to what must have been like for those that lived through this terrible time.
The following day we approached the city from the other side, where the US troops were stationed, to read about the history of the Brandenburg gate and how it was manned. The remains of the wall have been made into a museum and it is interesting again to read about the lives of people who lived in Berlin at this time.
I was glad to go and see Berlin for its history and how it’s citizens who now live in peace could once have been so divided.