Sunday, July 26, 2009

Memories of East Berlin

I sit where, 24 years ago, I crossed into East Berlin with my parents. Memories flood back - not going near the wall for fear of being shot, the DDR soldiers with sharp green uniforms watching our bus holding machine guns when going through Checkpoint Charlie, my dad in his USAF uniform scaring me a little as we cross into the Soviet bloc, strange feelings of unease as we walk through the city in our stylish clothes amongst the drabness of the Easterners.

Now here I sit looking at Checkpoint Charlie from a cafe called "Snack Point Charlie". The checkpoint is rebuilt now and you can get your photo with a cute US Army guy and DDR soldier girl, flag in hand, for 2 €. Souvenir shops abound with replicant DDR hats and flags, signs you can bring home announcing "you are leaving the American sector" and even a Checkpoint Charlie candy bar. Such is commercialism. Welcome to the West!

But amidst all this are my memories. I can't help but be moved as I walk past remnants of the wall, and the cobblestone line in the street tracing where it once stood. There used to be a death wall here! People DIED here trying to escape to freedom. The epitome of suppression adjacent to such opportunity for expression, a wall separating the two and armed soldiers enforcing it.

Among all the postcards and mugs at this cafe are young Americans born since the wall fell. To them it is a history lesson and a souvenir. I had a beer at Checkpoint Charlie they will tell their friends back in Chattanooga and Phoenix. For only 5€ I could even keep the glass! See!

To me, it is memories of those feelings I once had. I am always touched by stories of oppression, and this one hits me personally. I saw it. I experienced it. 24 years ago. And I remember.

It is my life... And I am moved.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile