I was reminded that today is the 25th anniversary of the FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL. Many recall hearing of the Wall and its 28 year history of separating East and West Berlin. You may also remember listening to news reports of the events leading up to its fall on November 9, 1989.
During the Wall’s 28 years, it is documented that border guards fired 1,693 times and made 3,221 arrests. It is believed that at least 136 people were killed at the Wall while trying to escape. There were 5,043 documented successful escapes.
My wife and I often say, “I’ve been there”, while watching movies or TV shows. It all started shortly after my first trip to Europe in the 1970’s when I returned home an “expert” (ha!) on all the destinations I had visited. Now that we both have traveled all over the world, we continue this “tradition” trying to identify familiar scenes featured in the media.
But you know, we DO become “experts” when we experience a place. The Berlin Wall was just a distant news story and historical event until I actually visited it. I was at the Wall in March 2014. Although I’ve traveled extensively in Europe, I’d never made to Berlin until this trip. Being there, walking around, experiencing, seeing, tasting, and smelling the actual place left a lasting sensory connect with the destination. There is nothing like the first-hand experience of being able to say, “I’ve been there.”
This is why I make it my mission to inspire European travel with my tours focusing on culture, history, art, and engaging experiences. I believe all travel is an adventure that leaves lasting positive or disappointing memories. I hope to empower my travel partners with knowledge, guidance, and confidence to embrace the adventure, seize the moment, and most of all… have fun!
Here are several links to today’s news about The Wall’s 25th Anniversary that I ran across this morning. I hope you enjoy the virtual experience. Maybe you’ll consider going with me to Berlin in September 2014 and experience the real thing!
The Berlin Wall Memorial – by David McGuffin
The Berlin Wall, a 96-mile-long barrier, was erected in stages around West Berlin in 1961. The East Germany government did not call it a barrier or wall, but the “Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart.” Major portions were rapidly constructed, almost overnight, to prevent the constant seepage of people from the East to the West. It is said that close to 3 million people had leaked out between 1949 and 1961. So, by 1961, the East had had enough and built “The Wall” or “Mauer”, as it’s known in German. Read more of my article about my first visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial.
The area around the 158-kilometer (98.2-mile) stretch where the Berlin Wall divided the city has changed utterly in the last 25 years. The barbed wire, machine-gun turrets and tanks in “no man’s land” have gone. In their place have sprung up shopping malls, parks, office blocks and bright, glass-fronted train stations. (Read about the fall of the Berlin Wall and explore its history in an interactive timeline.)
To many Germans, Harald Jaeger is the man who opened the Berlin Wall.
It’s a legacy that still makes the former East German border officer uncomfortable 25 years after he defied his superiors’ orders and let thousands of East Berliners pour across his checkpoint into the West.
“I didn’t open the wall. The people who stood here, they did it,” says the 71-year-old with a booming voice who was an East German lieutenant colonel in charge of passport control at Bornholmer Street. “Their will was so great, there was no other alternative but to open the border.” read more…