Picnic on the Death Lane
It would seem that 156 km of concrete and entanglements must leave a trace. At Bernauer Strasse it is quite a big deal. A well-preserved wall. Just add a few extras with & nbsp; rifles, dogs and & nbsp; everyone will feel that horror. Or at least a substitute. But this is a monument, left as a warning and & nbsp; joy of tourists. A few meters away the trail leads straight to the newly built building. Behind it simply disappears, and & nbsp; maybe it is hidden under the neighboring building? It breaks off and & nbsp; you have to laboriously search for it. The trail is overgrown like a jungle, in which what was yesterday today is something completely different. Human memory was to be helped by a belt wide for two stone cubes, which was led along the entire length of the wall. But even he gets lost in the crowds of sidewalks, alleys, new buildings. The city grew faster than society. A & nbsp; great history was reduced to stories.
A seemingly ordinary guy with traffic lights has also been a sign of division for years. The one with & nbsp; Ossi was more official because of the hat. He ran through the green. However, after the fall of the wall, it began to penetrate West Berlin. Now you don't know what it was at & nbsp; Virtually everything that & nbsp; East Berlin has adopted in & nbsp; West Berlin.
Earlier, telephone boxes were used to map the division. Those from West Berlin and East Berlin basically began to differ after 1952, when the telephone lines on both sides of the city, not yet divided by a wall, were separated. However, the eastern booth survived as a monument of those times.
In the GDR, fundamental issues with & nbsp; costs were not counted. As a result, until today it has not been possible to count how much it cost to erect the wall. Not to mention its maintenance. Hundreds of thousands. However, sometimes it turned out that it was the best investment in the history of a state that disappeared before it could capitalize its most commercial product - the Berlin Wall. Just a few days after the fall of the wall, trade in its pieces began. Initially spontaneous and & nbsp; innocent, because sellers with their own hands and chisels delivered another spoil to customers. With & nbsp; sometimes the sale of the wall was professionalized. Even 30 years after the fall, the wall keeps the price. In the & nbsp; museum souvenir shop & nbsp; you need to pay almost 20 euros for a piece of fist size, i.e. the equivalent of the monthly salary of a worker from & nbsp; GDR. Smaller pieces come at 12 euros. Concrete goods are sold by weight. 10 euros for 25 g. Question, do they still have the original wall in sale?
Chris Niedenthal, a famous photographer, had the opportunity to chip a piece of the original wall for his own needs. On November 9, 1989, Niedenthal photographed the official visit of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Warsaw. Kohl came to meet with Tadeusz Mazowiecki who had been in office for 77 days. The first non-communist prime minister from behind the iron curtain. In the evening, politicians went to dinner. A & nbsp; Niedenthal home, where he watched the news as the Berlin Wall fell. Kohl about & nbsp; probably also learned everything from & nbsp; television, because dinner was interrupted and & nbsp; the chancellor urgently returned to the country. In the same mode, Niedenthal flew to Berlin. He managed, because two weeks earlier something touched him and & nbsp; bought a ticket for the morning flight to Berlin on November 10. After 30 years, he most remembers the enthusiasm in the eyes of ordinary people and the panic in the eyes of border guards.
The next day, Niedenthal went shopping and bought a ladder. She was to give him an advantage over other colleagues who, like him, expected Gorbachev to come to Berlin. The ladder was long enough that he had to rent a car with a sunroof. He drove with this ladder protruding from the car for several days, but Gorbachev's visit did not wait. For the world, it was a signal that not only the wall fell, but the entire eastern block was falling apart.
Half of the factories and factories in East Berlin worked half-whistle because the workers were saturated with the West and stopped coming to work. It can be said that the wheel of history has made another turn. When the wall was being built on August 13, 1961, the factory directors in & nbsp; West Berlin faced the same dilemma. In one day, plants and & nbsp; institutions of West Berlin lost over 56,000 employees who lived on the east but worked on the west. The employment gap continued to grow because the Germans began to leave the largest prison in the world, as West Berlin began to be talked about. From the mid-1960s, immigrants were massively attracted to Berlin. Mainly from & nbsp; Turkey. The peak of emigration was in 1974, when the increase reached 90 thousand. people. Turks willingly settled in the area of the wall, where housing prices were lower. Practical Germans preferred not to live on the front line of the tank offensive, which was expected virtually every day. The most famous Turk who lived in the shadow of the wall was Osman Kalin, who developed a piece of man's land for the garden. Kalin reportedly lived in symbiosis even with the eastern guards. He boasted that he offered them onions and other vegetables.
Historians in & nbsp; the story of & nbsp; tossing onions to eastern guards believe moderately. The boys had soft triggers and hard consciences. Over 100 people paid for trying to cross the wall. Z & nbsp; every 70 percent killed by guards bullets. A bonus was paid for shooting at the fugitives. During later trials, they used this argument in their own defense. Nearly 12 thousand guarded the wall once. officers. Several have been convicted and convicted. Today, former guards gather a thriving association whose representatives pride themselves on social activities and singing together, which - as you know - is uplifting.
On June 5, 1989, readers of the world's largest newspapers were to be lifted up by a photo with Lech Wałęsa with his hand raised in a characteristic gesture of victory. It can be guessed that the editors were tempted to & nbsp; title - "Communism falls." However, it turned out not everywhere. The photo from Wałęsa lost to the poor quality frame, in which a lonely man stops a column of tanks moving towards & nbsp; towards Heavenly Peace Square. Germany was more fortunate. On November 9, 1989, so little was happening in the world that even the British tabloid The Sun noticed what had happened in Berlin. However, this was not the main material on the first page. This one was devoted to a "naughty nurse" in & nbsp; almost formal attire. Almost because without a dress. To this day, miniatures of the covers of major European newspapers can be bought at every souvenir stall near the wall. Among other things, thanks to this, the world believed that communism collapsed in Berlin.
Erich Honecker, who ruled the GDR with an iron hand, did not want to believe the fall of communism until the very end. Ultimately, he was helped by colleagues from the leadership of the SED - the party of East German communists. On October 17, 1989, they decided to deprive him of the function of head of state. A & nbsp; a few days later they gave permission for people to move between West Berlin and & nbsp; East Berlin. No dam was able to stop this river of people anymore. The wall, whose construction was initiated by Honecker, had to fall down. Honecker himself turned out to be harder than concrete. In March 1991, he fled aboard a military plane to Moscow. After a year, he was deported to Germany, where he was accused of helping to kill 68 people who tried to escape from the GDR. In the middle of the trial, he was released from custody due to ill health. I & nbsp; then he crossed the border illegally. He was more fortunate than GDR citizens, no one shot him in the time of escape.
Similarly, other proven companions were not shot, and the buildings along the eastern side of the wall were settled. Only such could have a window with & nbsp; a view of freedom. In the mid-1990s, the situation reversed. The federal government gave huge subsidies to everyone who agreed to leave their apartments in the center for the time of renovating the buildings. People were tempted with amounts from 10,000 to 30,000. euro. Renovations were actually a smokescreen to change the image and & nbsp; of the city's social fabric. The social experiment was only partially successful. Today, the center of Berlin votes for the Greens. On the eastern outskirts, the nationalist-populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) playing on the resentments of former GDR citizens is becoming stronger. In the west, conservative CDU wins.
Although at first glance it is impossible to recognize where Berlin was, there were huge differences just a few years ago. Even in the dress of residents. It had a longer tradition. In the late 1980s, East Germany became fashionable. The vigilant communist comrades saw this fashion as an attempt to imitate the bad patterns of the & nbsp; West. When the wall fell, crowds of eastern Berliners poured into the forbidden city, in which - as it turned out - almost nobody walked in & nbsp; jeans sets.
The plus is that in documentaries you can easily recognize who is standing on the wall. 20 years later, two Poles - Bartosz Konopka and & nbsp; Piotr Rosołowski based their film about the wall on & nbsp; The main role was not filled by concrete, but rabbits, who built their little asylum on the death strip between the wall. The film "Rabbit in Berlin" was nominated for an Oscar. In & nbsp; Germany did not accept. Rosołowski recalls that finding the interviewees at the production stage was a big problem. The Germans treated the filmmakers like rabbits, they perceived the film as an attempt to undermine the symbol. Life was still in the film. Rosołowski moved permanently to Berlin. His 10-year-old daughter, born in & nbsp; Berlin, every now and then asks him who those bad guys are because she is wrong.
About the mistake of who is who, there was no question in Leipzig, where on October 9, 1989, a hundred thousand crowd chanted: "We are the people." Opposite them were police with live ammunition. The massacre did not take place. It seems that - to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht - the government has realized that it cannot dissolve the nation and choose another because it has no influence on any other nation. For the rulers of the GDR, the manifestation in & nbsp; Leipzig was a great trauma.
An even greater trauma was living in the shadow of the wall. I & nbsp; on both sides. What a leading East Germany psychiatrist had the opportunity to investigate, and after the escape, a serial NRF doctor - Müller-Hegemann. In the early 1970s he published the book "Berlin Wall Diseases". According to him, the wall had a terrible effect on people. Even on those who did not make efforts to defeat him, he caused depressive states. After the fall of the wall, a group of American clergy postulated that, on the basis of the reverse, healing the wall of depressive states. They believed that the bad aura of Berlin concrete would act as a vaccine.
The East German NVA army was even worse. In order not to infect the Bundeswehr with this aura, every NVA soldier had to go through the verification commission. On 36 thousand officers only 3,200 a chance to continue service was given. NVA equipment did not even get such a chance. Most were scrapped, and the rest were distributed. In this way, the Polish army enriched with & nbsp; 22 Mig-29 fighter aircraft.
The number 22 repeats in yet another context. Well, 20 years after the fall of the wall, sociological research was conducted among Ossi, i.e. the inhabitants of the former GDR. The results were terrifying, because it turned out that only 22 percent. with them they felt full citizens of the GDR. 62 percent had difficulty & nbsp; determining who they felt. The respondents pointed out that after the fall of the GDR, they were treated as children, because officials from & nbsp; West brought in the folders. Some respondents even claimed that they were treated like dogs.
Dogs in & nbsp; GDR also did not have light. According to calculations from & nbsp; Museum "Berlin Wall" on the death belt served 886 dogs. According to other sources, over a thousand. Their task was to warn them before attempting to escape and attacking potential refugees. The dogs were still on leashes, which got stuck on iron lines stretched along the death belt. Apparently, they endured bad service. As their guardians reported, they quickly burned out and lost their service value.
However, the GDR industry suffered the fastest impairment, which basically collapsed within a few months. Rotkäppchen sparkling wine with a characteristic red cap, mustard and washing powder. Approximately as many brands from & nbsp; GDR have survived to this day. Within a few weeks, stores in the Eastern Länder have completely exchanged their assortment with that of the West. Some customers complained that they felt robbed of their favorite goods and habits. Later, there was a sense of robbery of the homeland, the past. Toast with sparkling Rotkäppchen wine has become a symbol of nostalgia for the past.
And the fall of the Berlin Wall became a symbol of the fall of communism. Although it was the Poles who had the first non-communist government, the Hungarians were the first to eliminate the barbed wire, but it is difficult to show tourists.
Initially, the wall was to be demolished in its entirety. However, a few pieces were left especially for tourists. Many tourists take pictures as if they were trying to tear down the wall themselves. This, of course, will not move. A & nbsp; Germans managed.
Just as they were able to escape from the world's most-guarded country. Determination and ingenuity helped them. They escaped in a suitcase, trunk, car with concreted doors, a tunnel, on a paraglider, between two hollow surfboards. In & nbsp; 1956, a record number of 380,000 escaped from & nbsp; GDR, mainly through Berlin. people. Building the wall was only a matter of time. However, its creation was a shock. On August 11, 1961, a secret report from the West German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) reported: "There is nothing special to signal." Two days later, a wall was erected.
Poles also contributed to & nbsp; defeating the wall. And & nbsp; it's not just the political one. The Polish patent for escaping through the wall was awesome. The Poles specialized in hijacking aircraft, which forced them to land at the West Berlin airport Tempelhof. In & nbsp; 1981, Poland was the world leader in the number of hijacking aircraft. AN-24 planes flying on domestic lines were hijacked. One of the employees of the flight was hijacked three times. W & nbsp; twice effectively. Each time he returned to the country. Most passengers, however, chose freedom. The authorities of the Polish People's Republic tried to stop the practice by putting more security officers on board. The pinnacle of this concept was the introduction of a fifth bodyguard into the crew cabin. It ended up with the kidnapping of this officer.
Apparently, however, he did not find happiness in the West. And & nbsp; here its history intertwines with & nbsp; many Ossi who are not feeling well in the new state, and & nbsp; it's hard for them to miss the old one.
Born in 1975. A qualified film expert who did not write a single film review. He started working in the & nbsp; Kielce branch of "Gazeta Wyborcza". He worked in the free newspaper "Metro". Later in & nbsp; 'Przekrój'. He likes 2007. His daughter was born then. They accepted him into Polityka. He writes about & nbsp; people.