When Siegrid Blau, a woman from West Germany, recalls traveling to East Berlin as a young woman, she remembered the scary feeling at the border. She remembered the smell of coal. And the colors.
“Everything was so grey,” she said. “It was like going from a world of color to a world of black and white.”
Despite the difference in photography, the contrast between the world then and now is dramatic.
Checkpoint Charlie is in the heart of Berlin and is the most famous border crossing point between the former East and West of the city. In 1961, tanks from Russia and the United States were stationed there after members of the U.S. mission were asked to show identity cards at the crossing. Now, a museum is located at Checkopoint Charlie and the border crossing has become a tourist hotspot.
The Brandenburg Gate, one of the most famous monuments in Berlin, was located close to the border on the Eastern side and was isolated and inaccessible during the period when the city was divided. Since the fall of the wall, the gate has become a symbol of German unity and of peace in Europe.
Checkpoint Charlie border crossing in 1984. The banner reads “Rescue the Sacharows” on the western side of the border, referring to a banned Soviet regime critic. Twenty years later, a little control box has been recreated and actors dressed in American, British, French and Soviet military uniforms pose for photos with tourists.
A demolished car at the Berlin Wall from 1987 and the same place in 2014.
Border police guarding a border crossing on Invalidenstrasse in north-central Berlin in 1971, and traffic 25 years later in front of the ministry for economics and technology. Back in 1989 this area was divided with barbed wire, blockades and a death strip.
Allison Williams is an editor for Handelsblatt Global Edition. To contact the author: Williams@handelsblatt.com