Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charlie's still retired, happily

Even if it has nothing to do with gardening, I just felt like posting this picture today as it is 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was reunited. I happened to land in Berlin on November 9th 1989 to study European Union Law, a 10 day course that I had booked almost a year earlier. From the plane, I watched the masses of people forcing their way from the surrounding East to West Berlin, some pushing their Trabants and bicycles in front of them. It looked like an enormous, circular migration of brown ants, all heading to the same point in the middle. Obviously, EU law lost its importance and we spent the whole week on the streets, experiencing first hand as history was in the making. One of the highlights was to see Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Germany, opened; I took the picture above that evening.
Being in Berlin when the Wall came down was an extremely strong but at the same time very strange experience. I almost felt like a voyeur, being there and seeing all the violent emotions that I as an outsider impossibly could completely share, only imagine. Everybody was talking to complete strangers; a lady in her 60's with dyed hair and make-up running down her cheeks told about a relative who had died while trying to escape to the West. A young Russian soldier with a bleak, tired face and empty eyes kept repeating that just a couple of days before, he wouldn't have hesitated to shoot us standing where we were at the moment. But the feeling of joy was almost overwhelming as we knew that a new period in the history of Europe had begun. We danced with the Russian and East German soldiers and climbed up on the wall with the people at the Brandenburg Gate. I feel lucky to have experienced those days in Berlin, and as I haven 't been back there ever since, I still think of the city crowded with an ocean of people, singing, crying and celebrating the fact that miracles really do happen, every now and then.


Ruben said...

Wow, det var verkligen som att befinna sig mitt i ett av historiens stora händelser! Jag tyckte det var en stor upplevelse bara det att tio år senare vandra längs den kilometerlånga kvarvarande muren.
Tack även för föregående inlägg som jag läste med stor behållning.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hej Ruben, visst var det en av de där osannolika händelserna i livet. Att hamna i Berlin, just då! Som Mrs Merkel sade, hon kommer aldrig att uppleva något sådant igen och jag instämmer nog... Många hösthälsningar till dig!