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Berlin Wall Anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For over 25 years a city existed within the confines of a wall that encircled it, keeping its residents in and everyone else out. Travel to and from West Berlin was only permitted through applications and documents. The Wall was a symbol of the Cold War

Following World War II, the defeated country of Germany was divided into four sections and governed by the Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, the Alliierter Kontrollrat, a military governing authority. The members were the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. France was later added with one vote, but no duties. As was the country divided, so too was the capitol city, Berlin. Berlin was well within the Soviet controlled section known later as East Germany.

When the Soviets and East Germans erected a wall around the portions of Berlin governed by the Americans, Brits, and French, West Berlin was isolated from West Germany. Armed guards patrolled the wall and the checkpoints going in and out of West Berlin.

I lived in West Berlin from 1983 to 1987, while my husband served with the Air Force. While we lived a relatively normal lifestyle there, getting “Flag Orders” every time we wanted to travel outside the city was an inconvenience. While I lived there, the political climate was relatively calm and we traveled back and forth into East Berlin fairly often. One very tragic incident in 1985 affected us personally, when Major Arthur Nicholson was killed in the line of duty. His daughter Jennifer was in my son’s class. We were also there when President Reagan cried “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” at the Brandenburg Gate.

The cold gray wall served as a grim reminder of the differences in lifestyle from East to West. Bus drivers who drove through Checkpoint Charlie often played “God Bless the USA” or “Born in the USA” — with the windows open.
Shortly after we moved from Berlin to Maine, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched throngs of East Berliners pour through the torn down wall. I feel that way yet.

This website about the Berlin Wall has some good information: http://www.berlin.de/mauer/index.en.html

Also, check for books about the Berlin Wall under the number 943.155
Barbara Misselt, Director

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