Berlin is now a young, vibrant town that has previously been clouded by a dark history. First with the Nazis in WWII, and then again 20 years later by the Communists during the Cold War.
Our walking tour jumped back and forth between the 1940s and the 1960s. From one terrible regime to the next. It was amazing to me how much the histories intertwined with each other. How the effects of WWII could be seen directly relating to the Berlin Wall.
In history books in school, WWII was one chapter, and the Cold War was another separate event. I wish we were taught how connected the two really were. Berlin is definitely the best place to really understand it all.
After dinner, we did an optional Contiki excustion called “Eye Spy Berlin”. it was an evening walking tour where we learned about the Stasi (the secret police) and a little bit more about life inside the Berlin wall.
Our first stop was a Berlin wall Memorial.
This is also the largest intact piece of the wall (with the inner and outer walls together) still standing as it did 20 years ago.
The wall you see above is what it looked like to the people in East Berlin. Very plain and no graffiti.
Then about 50 meters beyond the inner wall was another wall. The space in between was called the death strip.
This area in between the walls was patrolled by watch towers, trip wires, attack dogs and police who had orders to shoot to kill if anyone tried to escape. And if that wasn’t enough, the ground was covered in sand to slow down anyone attempting to run across.
Then we walked down the road to see a section of the wall that literally divided an apartment building in half.
Basically if your front door faced the east, you became an East Berliner, and if it faced the west, you were able to escape. Some people even jumped from windows as the wall was being built below them to try and make it to the West.
The wall also divided a church in this area as well. Whether or not you became an East or West Berliner depended on where you were at the time the wall went up. Some people went out with friends after dinner and came out and found themselves on the opposite side from their home and their families. It stayed that way for 28 years.
Nearby was the famous Tunnel 57. Friends on opposite sides planned for years to dig a tunnel and 57 people successfully escaped that way. Just two days later, the Stasi discovered it.
Then we hopped on the Coach and began a Stasi-themed bar crawl.
The first bar was CCCP (which means USSR in Russian).
The inside glowed a deep communist red.
After a while, our group got split into two and we had to find our way to the next bar by solving a few clues. The Stasi was notorious for encouraging snitching on your family and friends. They monitored mail, phone calls and daily life. People learned to write and speak in code to avoid Stasi discovery.
We had to use similar methods to find our way to our destination. One clue led to another.
Then we found it! A small bar under the street.
A drink was included at each of the stops.
In between this bar and the last one, we were surprised with giant pretzels! Berlin for the Win!
To get to the last club, we jumped on the metro.
And arrived at Matrix (a club underneath the train tracks).
It was the perfect way to cap off a great day in Berlin. I will definitely be back someday, there was way too much to see and do in just two days.
Next stop: Dresden!
I loved Berlin as well! Great post, Kelley!
Thanks! It was a great city. One of my favorites.