By Katrina Wood
Published date: May 1, 2017 09:10 CET UTC +02:00
The Berlin Wall: its gone now. Germany is unified. The DDR is now a memory. The locked city controlled by the Soviet Union now a history remembered by the German people, and the world. There are many ways to see this history, to experience aspects of it: these include tourist sites showing the famous 'you are now leaving the West' signs such as checkpoint charlie in Berlin mitte, or the various shops or museums dedicated to the subject - or a person can go and see it for themselves: The wall...
Part of it is still there in preserved form. A section of it. It's now an outside art gallery and classified as such, and called the East Side Gallery, but it's a long section of the original Berlin Wall, kept since the time of it's fall in 1989 (and lined with many art paintings since). So it is still possible that a person who wants to see the real thing, or maybe to try to get an impression of what it was like to be behind a wall, can go and see it. Stand in front of it and behind it; not to look at the pictures in the museums but to actually see the wall itself, this powerful reminder of what can happen when politics determines the fates of others by physical force.
It's been preserved and kept by the people of Berlin and Germany. It goes back to the time when people could not travel to the West, where people had, to some extent, to either absorb or adapt to Soviet ideology voluntarily or unwillingly, to get used to a life behind a wall, and for some, no doubt, to accept that they might not ever leave.
It's possible to sit on the grass behind the Wall and imagine the death strip. The open area of ground where once the East Berliners who wanted to get to the west and wanted to make the run for freedom had to cross. Knowing they could be shot down at any moment by the watchtower guards.
On the street in front are many paintings on the wall. One painting shows roses: a rose for every person who was killed trying to cross it. The pattern of deaths shows graphically - with most of the roses in the first few years after it was built, but decreasing as the years continued. Fewer roses as the years went on. A reduction in attempts and possibly of hope, as the East German residents obviously tried less and less to escape.
The visitors walk around and look at the paintings, the traffic goes past, and the cyclists weave in and out of the lanes while the local Berliners stroll past.
It's just a street. But what a street.