Checkpoint Charlie

I was in fourth grade when the Berlin Wall was being torn down.  I remember our teachers trying to explain the significance of it, why it was erected, why it was being torn down.  I never really paid attention to lessons, but I remember that one very vividly – where I was sitting in class, the pictures of the wall, the general mood of the classroom not giving a damn.  For some reason, it just clicked with me, I didn’t understand all that was happening and why but I knew that it was important.  25 years later, we were lucky to see this history in person.  

I saw the site with what can be argued as beyond fourth grade intelligence level and a passion to understand root cause and affect.  It had been on our list of places to see, and decided to make the trek on our first day in Berlin.  We walked from the hotel a few miles to the plaza area, then got lost.  The streets can be damn confusing with no non historical method of pronouncing them.  We found our bearings, and there we were, walking  the site.  If we didn’t know what we were looking at, we wouldn’t have gave it a thought beyond that fact that we were shouldered against an old concrete divider – nothing more or less.  The wall itself was just that, a wall make of concrete and rebar.  But when you apply the history is stops being considered a wall and becomes an artefact.  

The wall still exists in various places, we learned.  I wonder if this is due to low funds to tear down, no logistical need to tear down, or the desire to have a constant reminder.  If you are fuzzy on the history or pre-and post WW2 Germany, the museum is a perfect opportunity to learn.  I could have easily spent all day there, reading every bit of information.  I loved the way that it was all laid out.  In good German fashion, it was engineered in a very organised and efficient manner.  It discussed post WWI Germany, economic woes, the rise of the socialist party, manipulation of the masses, the effects of war, and the aftermath that was divided Europe.  Step by step we followed the chronologically laid out presentation.  Some was familiar history, others gave behind the seen insight into everyday German life and military coordination.  It was fascinating to say the least.  

Some of Germanys past is very dark, violent.  They have a choice to hide itand allow time to dismiss its history or they can own up to it, show thatmistakes were made, and do whatever they can to prevent it from happening again.  I admire that.  I wish we had more time to read every bit of information and examine the period photos of life in Germany, but we had a few mile walk to get back to the hotel.  I left the site with another item crossed off my list of things to see in life and a little more faith in humanity’s ability to overcome hardship.