In 1961 on this day, the people of Berlin woke to find their city had been divided overnight by twelve foot high barbed wire fences. Within days East German troops, engineers and any citizen called Nigel, replaced the barbed wire with 66 miles of concrete walling!
Thankfully, they didn’t use the bloke who built my patio or it would have taken years to erect, would cost them for 4,000 teabags and it would have fallen over shortly after completion!
When some Berliner’s woke they initially thought the East Germans had taken this huge step to stop the West Germans early morning habit of claiming their sun beds with towels. This was a real issue at the open air swimming pools in the east of the city.
Of course that wasn’t the real reason for the wall being built. It was to stem the tide of people fleeing East Germany, as the Soviet Union has taken an increasingly hard line over breaking away from the three Allied powers and forming a separate peace treaty with East Germany over Berlin.
Nearly 12,500 people left East Germany the week before the wall was erected. That was over 2,000 more than the previous week. The emigrants tended to be young and well-educated, leading to the “brain drain” feared by officials in East Germany. There were a number of very angry East Germans after their freedom of movement was rescinded.
Amongst those affected was dentist Gabel End, who had just bought a ten year season ticket for West German football team Borussia Munchen Gladbach. Herr End was furious! He wouldn’t now be able to utilise this! However, once an East German guard told him “Shut the fuck up! Or I’ll hoof you in the bollocks!” he let it drop!
To try step the flow of defectors, the East Germans sent propaganda leaflets to each home. It’s message of “Please don’t leave for West Germany! Go on, we will be your best friend!” was highly successful and its creator was awarded the prestigious ‘Medal of No Return’.
U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin on June 26, 1963. He was there to underline the support of the United States for West Germany, 22 months after Soviet-supported East Germany erected the Berlin Wall.
Whilst there he gave his historic speech where he advised everyone “Ich bin ein Berliner”. I don’t speak German, however, i’m reliably informed that this translates as “You Berlin girls have magnificent bosoms!”
I’m not sure it was an appropriate comment personally but the West Germans loved it and they applauded him heartily and gave him Gabel End’s season ticket for Borussia Munchen Gladbach!
The wall stood until November 1989, when it was knocked down after the East German authorities decided that their people deserved decent food, a better class of graffiti and cars that went over 36 mph. Subsequently, their people were urged to knock it down, with the most destructive getting a ticket for top German comedian Horst Chestnuttree’s gig at the Berghain Club in Berlin.
Now hardly any of the original wall remains. It has been scavenged by souvenir hunters and people building a rockery. One of the souvenir hunters, Kurt Reply from the district of Potsdam, took the 200lb piece of rock home and now has it as a souvenir fridge magnet. He claims it’s too heavy really, as it constantly falls off his refrigerator door onto the floor and has broken his foot twice. However, due to its historical significance, he claims the weeks in plaster were worth it!
Anyway, to close I’d like to say “Der Bau der Mauer war nicht etwas zu feiern. Doch auf seiner 54. Jahrestag,es sollte ein Moment der Ruhe Reflexion für die Opfer und die betroffenen Familien durch die Schaffung dieser Struktur!” That roughly translates to “I’m going for a shower!”
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