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«Concrete Curtain» against Communication…

Близкие были были разлучены берлинской стеной

Relatives were separated from each other by the Berlin Wall

If walking in Berlin you look carefully under your feet, in some places you can notice a line of two bricks that goes through streets and pavements. This line marks the boundaries of the Berlin wall location that used to divide the city into two parts.

After the World War II the whole Germany was divided between the USA, the Great Britain, France, Poland and the USSR. So instead of one country there appeared two – Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and German Democratic Republic (GDR). Berlin was also divided, and the city turned out to be on the territory of GDR, although only the Eastern part of it belonged to GDR, that’s why to get from FRG to the Western part of Berlin was possible only by three special surface and air corridors.

Берлинская стена со смотровой вышки

The Berlin Wall from the observation tower

The Berlin wall was built in 1961 on GDR’s initiative, and its first level appeared so to say in no time. The citizens of Berlin recall: «In the evening we lived in one city and in the morning woke up in different countries!». The construction of the wall was a real blow to the citizens of the city, as relatives and friends were separated from each other.

Later the height of the wall was 3 meters, its length 155 km., 43,1 of which were in the precincts of the city. The territory of the wall was guarded, several security check-points that limited the crossing of the boarder by the residents of former Germany were in action.

During the existence of the wall a lot of flight efforts were made. People invented various ways of doing it: saps, hang gliders, balloons, ramming it with a bulldozer, crossing to the other side by a rope between houses, and some people simply tried to break through the barbwire. Altogether about 5 thousand of successful flights were made, although there were also failures accompanied by victims.

By the end of the 80-s the political situation changed and The Brandenburg gates as well as some security check-points were opened in 1989, that let the citizens reunite. By 1990 the greater part of the wall was demolished. Presently there are only a few places where the «Concrete curtain» remains, they are the area between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts, which is called «East-Side Gallery», where the wall is covered with numerous graffiti made by painters from different countries of the world, and also the fragment of wall on Bernauer ßtrasse, which is an unofficial places of memory of the victims of flight failures.

Одно из графитти современных художников на останках берлинской стены

One of the modern artists’ graffiti at the Berlin Wall remains

We leant all that from the story told by Bernt, one of the «AWO» workers, and also in the Museum of Berlin Wall. The museum is situated on Friedrichßtraße 43-45 in the building which earlier was a tower for observation of the opposite side. There are photos and video chronicle of the process of building the wall, the attempts of flights, the demolishing of the wall and also the items used by runaways for their flights. Moreover, all the visitors can go to the observation deck at the top of the tower, where they can see the neutral zone. It was there where we found out that in reality the wall consisted of two parallel barriers, between which there was a small neutral territory left.

Now the district of the wall is actively used – there are dwelling houses, office buildings and cultural centres on it. This district nowadays is considered to be one of the most expensive and prestigious in Berlin, although after the wall had been demolished dwelling there was the cheapest.

The museum under the open sky impressed us greatly, as it is a reminder of those years when close people were parted by force and deprived of the ability to communicate. I think this place can leave no one untouched. The guys of the squadron, for example, decided to devote one of the media-projects that we created in Germany to the history of the Berlin wall. To my mind, it is extremely important to appreciate that freedom of communication that we have nowadays.

Ekaterina Kudyukova, captain-instructor отряда «Каравелла»

“Come on, Come on, Work!”

Экспонаты музея ГДР

The GDR museum's exhibits

Thanks to Lisa, whose family I lived at, I was the only person from our group who was able to visit the GDR Museum (German Democratic Republic). Our trip to the museum took place on April 8, 2012.

GDR was a socialist state founded on October 7, 1949 in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany and the eastern sector of Berlin. It existed until October 3, 1990. After Germany’s defeat in World War II its territory was divided into five parts between the USSR, USA, France, Poland and Great Britain. Berlin as the capital was divided into four parts, and its eastern part belonged to the Soviet Union. It was the area where the authorities began to fight for a new socialist society, which was supposed to oppose the capitalist Europe sharply.

Экспозиция музея ГДР

The GDR museum exposition

It might seem that such a museum can be interesting only for the elder generation, but the exposure is attractive for both adults and children.

“The DDR stands for “Come on, come on, work”!” – the youth of Germany jokes today (in Russian it sounds like “Davay, Davay, Rabotay!”). The Museum of the DDR fascinates its visitors with the era that is so familiar to our parents and grandparents. The portraits of Engels, Marx and Lenin, table football and Pioneer units – it seems that the era of the Soviet Union is recreated in these walls. But you only have to come closer to understand that there are Latin letters on the backs of forbidden books (one of the exhibits is called “The literature behind bars”).

For me, as a representative of Russia – ex-Soviet Union, it was interesting to observe the mixture of languages, traditions and cultures. Socialism transplanted to European soil had a beneficial effect on the development of the DDR: at some period the standard of living there was the highest in Europe. Of course, the formation of socialism in the DDR was not without problems, such as the Big Berlin Uprising in 1953 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Экспонаты музея ГДР

The GDR museum's exhibits

The museum creators did not pass over other events of forty years history including sports victories. In several rooms there is a completely restored family life of that time: a floor lamp, a black and white TV (which still works!), dishes… You can open all lockers and look everywhere. There is an opportunity to relax in a real car or to try on clothes from the cupboard, to sit in a prison cell and to visit the interrogation in a secret police “Stasi”.

In short, the exhibition entitled “Life and customs of the past state” in Berlin on Karl Marx Street deserves attention.

Daria Krapivina, flag-officer отряда «Каравелла»

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