Robert Hampton

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8th June 2012

Wall to Wall
Posted by at 12.39am | Out and About | 4 responses

Checkpoint Charlie "You Are Entering The American Sector" signMy history lessons in school were heavy on Germanic stuff. World War II featured prominently, of course, but I was always slightly more fascinated by the post-war era, particularly the political situation that led to the division of Germany and the erection of the Berlin Wall.

Die Berliner Mauer carved its way through the city, separating West Berlin from the country of East Germany entirely. It wasn’t a neat separation, as the wall zig-zagged and wiggled its way through the streets to reflect the borders of the post-war occupation zones. Roads were blocked and railway lines severed. People living on the same street found themselves separated from their neighbours. The only access to and from West Berlin was via a handful of road, rail and air corridors. For East Germans and East Berliners, crossing the border was deliberately made as difficult as possible.

Berlin WallUS President Reagan’s demand to the Soviet authorities (“Tear down this wall!”) was belatedly acted upon in 1989. 23 years later, there is little of the Wall left, and what remains is in various states of decay.

Reunification and reconstruction has removed most of the physical evidence of The Wall but it still makes its presence felt in some ways. There are still two distinct “city centres” recognisable in East and West Berlin. To this day, the city’s tram network abruptly stops at the former border (The West Berlin authorities abandoned trams while East Berlin retained them), although there are plans to extend it into the West.

My knowledge of the Berlin Wall was largely limited to that gleaned from playing the eponymous Scenario in SimCity 3000 (which, as it turns out, is not accurate). In order to rectify this, Andrew and I set out to find ourselves some Cold War relics.

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