Visiting the Berlin Wall

Today is the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall.  It signified the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany.

I was fortunate enough to be in Berlin, Germany back in 2001.  Heading out for a walk one afternoon I wandered towards the Brandenburg Gate, the entry point for the former East Germany.  Walking through the gate I was overcome by an onslaught of memories originating from the Cold War – from the space race to the East Germans who used to rule the Olympics.  This onslaught was prompted, in part, when I noticed the landscape had immediately changed from colorful to stark.  No pots in the window sills, no flowers, drab colors, no hustle and bustle like there was just a quarter-mile to the west.  Just as I was told as a kid.  Even 12 years after the Wall came down the old East Germany looked the same.

I was headed to one of the several small museums over by Checkpoint Charlie in the old American Sector when from behind me I heard a siren.  My heart just about leaped through my throat.  I was an American on the loose in East Germany and they were after me!  Needless to say, that reaction was indicative of how absorbed I was in the moment.

Making it to the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie I was struck by the stories of planned escape from the east, including the young man who had his brother weld him into a false gas tank of a VW Beetle.  I love historical museums and stayed as long as I could before heading over to see the Wall.

The Berlin Wall itself was a mere remnant of old, but an original section was still very prominent and covered with graffiti from the day the Wall fell.  Not understanding German I wondered how many individual stories were depicted in the graffiti.  The feeling I had walking along the Wall was very moving, a real sense of history beneath my feet.  I could only imagine what the Wall meant to those who lived in Berlin during that period and it’s symbolism to millions around the world.  A number of exhibits along the Wall told a profound story of what it was like living with the Wall from 1961-1990.  Growing up during the Cold War it was one surreal experience I’ll never forget.

 

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About Mike

Mike has been an executive in the biotechnology industry for the past 20 years. Mike is a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, earning Bachelors degrees in Business Economics and Geography. Mike also earned his MBA in Finance from California State University, Fresno. Mike is married to the mother of his 3 children and currently lives outside of Boulder, CO. In his spare time Mike enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, reading and coaching basketball.
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