It would be very fair to say Berlin of the early 1960s was a far different place. West Berlin was revitalized, showing very few signs of the devastation visited upon the city during World War II. In the eastern half, it was gray – like it was frozen in time. The large apartment blocks of East Berlin, those closest to the western half, seemed to be vacant (and probably were). The assumption was probably much of the war damage in the Soviet sector still existed. Whatever life was in the city, it was quite clear the wall changed everything.
On our last day in West Berlin, we managed to have a driver to take us around for the day. He asked my parents if they could pay his fee in US currency. His fee was $20, and that would include taking us to the train station the next day. Our driver normally drove for the US military during the week, noting that’s how he learned to speak English. Before the wall was erected, he and his family lived in East Berlin. He managed to move his family into West Berlin by bribing the East German border guards to look the other way. The guards’ Soviet military supervisor settled for some “American beer and cigarettes”. Unfortunately, our driver was unable to bring his elderly parents and his wife’s parents into West Berlin. Our driver took us around mostly in the British sector.
The picture-taker on the trip was my dad.
a cinder-block section of the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate
British military police on patrol near the Brandenburg Gate
the Siegessaeule (“Tower of Victory”) in the center of the Tiergarten section of West Berlin (British sector)
another view of the Soviet War Memorial in the Tiergarten section of West Berlin (British sector)
the Reichstag, or Imperial German Diet (Parliament), the East Berlin border was a few meters behind the building
the Schloss Charlottenburg, a palace in the far western end of the British sector of West Berlin
the dome of Schloss Charlottenburg
Berlin, today, is a very much different city. It is once again a very vibrant city. Much of the Berlin Wall has been dismantled, with a one-mile section remaining. (This last section is currently at the center of dispute concerning its demolition.) Landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, have been restored.
Though I have many more photos of my family’s trip to West Berlin, they’re more of the family kind. I hope you have liked this series.
Part One of this series can be found here. Part Two of the series can be found here.