In 1968 the Berlin Wall was a relatively new phenomenon, although the city had been divided since WWII. One of my favorite history research papers had been on the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, so I was eager to see the city for both reasons.

I would have preferred to take the train to Berlin, but either it wasn't allowed at all or visa requirements were prohibitive, so I flew. It was not disappointing.

After my time there, I flew back to West Germany to take the train to London to meet up with most of my MBC colleagues for the return flight home.  There were at least a couple of the girls who were planning to stay longer in Germany -- either for work or for additional schooling.

I wasn't able to get a sleeper on the train and it was packed. I scrounged a seat in a compartment with some men who were either Greek or Turkish. They started out a bit fresh with a girl traveling alone, but we eventually reached an understanding. There weren't many options beyond standing in the corridor all night, which wasn't appealing either.

The train connected with a ferry at Ostend, which connected with another train at Dover. I don't know why I didn't take any pictures of that part of the trip. I had probably packed my camera for safekeeping.

It was fun to meet up again with my travelling companion Suellen. We were both really looking forward to getting back to the US.

Picture

Narrative

Gedachtnis Kirche, Berlin

The Gedächtniskirche is an iconic West Berlin sight. It was built in the late 19th century by Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German emperor, in honor of his grandfather.

The church was destroyed by bombs in WWII, but has been preserved as a memorial against war.

Reichtstag, Berlin

The Reichstag is the building that was constructed in the late 19th century to hold the Imperial Diet (Parliament) of the German empire. It was damaged by fire in 1933 and not used again for the parliament until after the reunification of Germany in 1990.

At the time of my visit, it was simply being stabilized.

Protest

The building of the Berlin Wall and the killing of those who tried to escape rankled. A protestor had painted this message. I can't read the beginning of the message, but equating Communism with fascism was a grave insult.

The Wall

The Allied side of the wall was a zone of devastation, but there was no cleared and patrolled "death zone." Theoretically anyone could walk right up to it.

Fascinating that the fence looks like it is designed to keep West Berliners out. Ha!

Wall Memorial

The city was divided along streets. When the wall was built, existing houses were incorporated into it. The houses were eventually demolished leaving only their bricked-up facades.

This is a memorial to someone who made a break for freedom and died in the attempt. (Taken from the tour bus hence the reflections.)

Brandenburg Gate from the west

The Brandenburg Gate was part of the 18th century "customs wall" surrounding the city. The east/west divide ran through the gate, which was isolated at the time that I visited.

This picture is looking toward East Berlin and the avenue Unter den Linden, which once was the monumental entry to the palace of the Prussian kings.

The original linden trees were planted in the 17th century.

Brandenburg Gate This is the closest that I got to the gate on the eastern side.
Unter den Linden

 The trees seen here on Unter den Linden street past the parked cars were planted in the 1950s.

Checkpoint Charlie

I signed up for a tour of East Berlin. We were expressly forbidden to take pictures of Checkpoint Charlie so of course I did.

It was the primary entry point for tourists and others.

Checkpoint

The sign says "Hearty welcome to the capital of the German Democratic Republic." It looks welcoming doesn't it?

It was chilling to see how the bus was checked out when we left -- mirrors were even run underneath to make sure there were no stowaways.

Hitler's Bunker

One of the sights in East Berlin was the site of the bunker where Hitler committed suicide in the closing days of WWII. The buildings were destroyed by the Soviets. Later the location became a parking lot for newly constructed buildings.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Berlin

The changing of the guard at the East German Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There's some interesting discussion of the history of this monument at the link.

Russian cemetery, East Berlin

We also visited the Soviet war memorial and cemetery.

Pergamom Museum, East Berlin

The highlight of the tour of East Berlin, however, was the Pergamon Museum.

Two young women on our tour failed to return by the appointed hour and our guide, the archetype of the East German, directed the driver to leave them -- even though they came running as we drove away. I have no idea how they got back to West Berlin.

Berlin Zoo

I don't recall why I took half a day to visit the Berlin zoo. I'm not especially fond of zoos. This may in fact be the last one I ever visited.

I took a bunch of pictures, but I'll let this little penguin stand in for the rest of the critters.

Berlin airlift memorial

The Berlin Airlift Memorial was located at Templehof Airport. It contains the names of pilots who died during the time of the airlift.

Picadilly Circus

As noted above, after leaving Berlin I made my way to London to reconnect with the MBC group. Suellen and I got tickets to Man of la Mancha (nosebleed section) at the Piccadilly Theatre. It had only opened there in April, 1968.

We also got tickets to Yellow Submarine, which had just been released in July. We really felt we had made a coup since it hadn't yet opened in the US.

Leaving for home

Finally we boarded our plane for the return home. Even though it had been a fabulous experience, I was thrilled to be back in the USA. In fact I seriously considered kissing the tarmac at JFK airport on our arrival!

(The airline was British United Airways and the jet appears to be a VC10.)

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