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After a few 'unwanted and unnecessary e-mails I'm sorry, but to place a comment you will now have to become a 'FOLLOWER" - People can be and are nasty creatures.
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Due to poor health, I have decided to use this site mainly, and the site below for some of my postings....just click on it and choose the article to read from the list!
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I'm to be found on 'Facebook' as 'Ian Mitchell' and......
I've started using "Twitter" (mr le Marquis) much more, and you can be a part of it. On all my Websites you'll find, somewhere (generally at the top of the page) "Twitter Updates"- This gives you links to click on which will take you to interesting things....Try it!
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A General link - choose from various radio news stations in English....
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Or in French:
Or in German.....

A little trip through life

Come and take a little trip with me - through my life and with a few other people as well.....You can listen to the music if you don't like the photos....!
Jan/ian (Mr le Marquis - Iwmpop ) Personal Slideshow: Ian’s trip from Le Creusot, Burgundy, France to Nîmes was created by TripAdvisor. See another Nîmes slideshow. Create your own stunning slideshow with our free photo slideshow maker.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Berlin - Part 2

Berlin - Part 2






This is the Berlin Bear, city emblem, but in the past, travelling to Berlin, through Eastern German corridors was a real live adventure.
To control the cars, and their contents, the Eastern German authorities went to certain extremes, even (as we now know) scanning them with radio active machines, not X Ray, but real nuclear stuff! They found people hidden regularly with the help of these machines.
The East German Border Guards and the "Vopos" (Volks police) were a particular type. People unhappy with everything and everyone - even themselves, and they were aided and abetted by a whole army of military and civilians who enjoyed putting obstacles in the way - of everybody!
On the transit road route, I recall a railway level crossing which became famous in the West, everytime the little functionaire reponsible for raising and lowering the barrier saw that holiday traffic was coming heavyily from or to West Berlin, he closed the barrier. I and my wife once sat there surrounded by other holidaymakers from the West for 2 and one half hours. Not one train passed through, and finally the barrier went up! If you said anything, you were ripe for a thorough control of your belongings and car - another 2 hours!

Maniacs about collecting papers and files, they opened a dossier on everything and anything! I wasn't surprised to find out that both I and my wife had one - each, and a third one for the family name! The above photo shows the enormous task faced when sorting out these dossiers had to be done!
The whole system functionned on everybody denouncing everybody else, and then themselves...! Visitors from the West were only there to mock their system, so they had to be dealt with - harshly!
In East Berlin restaurants, where there was only one thing on the menu on any given day,Western visitors had to leave their over-dress,umbrellas, hats, scarves, gloves etc.. with the cloakroom lady! 
If you didn't, you were rudely asked: 
"That's how you sit at table in the West, is it?" 
It all had to do, of course,with getting a tip - small change, preferably West money!
Money was a theme anyway! Since the East German powers knew that the official rate of 
1-mark East for 1-mark West was undermined in West Berlin, where you could get up to 20 east for 1 West, they made it obligatory, for the day pass to visit East Berlin, to change a minimum of 20 D-marks WEST per person into 20 East...and outlawed the exporting of Banknotes or coins from Eastern Germany to the West!
The fact that there was little or nothing to buy in East Berlin didn't matter, they got the cash! Of course, the cloakroom lady wasn't happy - East marks in small change? 
Not worth it, so you were likely NOT to recuperate those expensive kid leather gloves...!
Of course - the toilet lady had to be paid as well, not to forget the waiter who "served" the most atrocious food.
All in all, your 20 marks was gone before you got anything!
I recall an occasion when we went to the Television Tower Restaurant in East Germany, one of the better adresses, where the restaurant revolved, giving views over the whole city.
We decided to eat in "French" style, ordering 4 or 5 different courses, and different wines.
We were just at the fish course, when we were rudely asked to leave, by one of the "Intourist" hostesses.
When I refused, saying I'd bought and paid for 5 courses etc., she left muttering something about "Capitalists"! 
She came back with the Boss, who informed us that "1 turn of the tower was all we were allowed" - so I told him to pack the rest of our meal in boxes - we'd finish it off in the street!
He disappeared and didn't come back!
I felt quite "chuffed" until - when finally leaving, we found ourselves presented at the doors with a whole mass of East German Citizens, outraged that a couple of tourists had blocked them from entering the restaurant for 2 whole hours!
They were NOT allowed in whilst we were still there - amazing....!

These guys didn't get a tip, but if you had offered......?
They symbolised Eastern Germany and East Berlin. Never, anywhere, have I ever seen so many people in uniforms.
Doing their shopping, drinking a beer, whatever - uniformed people - everywhere! The normally clothed civilians seemed to find this quite normal! 
Maybe it saved on the National Economy - importing clothing can be expensive, but I have, to this day, the proof that Eastern Germany exported more clothing to West Germany than they sold to their own citizens.
I've still got 3 pairs of trousers "made in East Germany" - bought by me in West Germany.
Obviously the quality was good, because I bought them almost 40 years ago! They don't fit anymore, but I'm slimming!

The reason everybody wanted West money (dollars or pounds sterling were "ok" as well) was simple. 
All over East Berlin and Eastern Germany were "Intershops" to be found. 
These belonged to the State, but everybody who had Foreign currency could go and buy cheaply, everything that wasn't available in the East - but only with West money!
Western cigarettes, café, watches, jewellery, just about everything! 
There was an Intershop here at Alexanderplatz metro station, just right for the travellers to illegally buy cigarettes and alcohol - dirt cheap - only to be charged by Customs officers when the train re-surfaced in the West!
Of course there was complicity between East and West authorities...!
The "chicaneries" were legion - but tourists still went!
 One thing which I loved from East Germany was this young lady - Katerina Witt - an ice skater, winner of Olympics and World Championships, but in the first place a DELICIOUS, refreshing young lady - so I'll forgive them a lot of things - because of her....!


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In the third and last part I'll try to show you the drastic differences between East and West Berlin, with its "KADEWE" ("Kaufhaus Des Westens") a state subsidized West German super store which showed off in a truly propoganda fashion- 
"You're in the West here! "  


 the entry.           ***          one of the floors.                      




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