Berlin West didn't exist of course at the end of the War, and that part of the City which became West Berlin, was just as badly destroyed by Russians, Americans, British and other armed forces as the rest was.
When the so called "cold war" got under way, it became rapidly obvious that the best way of showing differences had to be by example, and excessive ones!
West Berlin had to have everything, and in its best and biggest form.
The photo shows a look into East Berlin, from the West, and if you had been able to look in the other direction, you would probably have seen a few of the following:
The church is just around the corner from the famous "Bahnhof Zoo" and the "Zoological Gartens", just 200metres from the start of the well known "Ku-damm" - Berlin's most frequented shopping street - a sort of "Mayfair" or "Park Lane" of Berlin.
A very animated area of Berlin, it was in the British Sector.
We lived during the first period in the district of Wedding, a workers area, now very much one of the Immigration central districts.
You probably would have seen one of these things passing by, there were thousands under way - day and night!
The Berliners called them "grosser gelbes" (big yellows) and they didn't run on the same basis as London buses (none for 2 hours then 20 of 'em all at once!) no they ran on a timetable that normally worked - every 2/3 minutes a bus! The prices were very low as well, because in the West Berlin of the 60's, cars were more than a luxury, they were really only for going on holiday with, or leaving the City.
West Berlin got enormous assistance from all the Western World, even ourselves, my wife and I went to Berlin the last time under a West German parliament ruling, to get qualified people to go from W Germany to W Berlin.
We had removals, transport, new carpets, new curtains, a monthly allowance for the first 6 months, and many other advantages, paid for by the West German government in Bonn. Our only promise was to stay in West Berlin for a minimum of 1 year - a year which passed too quickly, and finally became 10 years!
We lived firstly in Wedding, then on the Heerstrasse at Spandau.
My current driving licence (valid for life - everywhere) was taken out in Spandau, and occasionally serves as a "bet winner" in French bars and cafés....!
Of course - KADEWE....!
An enormous propoganda effort, fresh bread from Paris - daily - hourly!
Everything imaginable was available - fresh daily! Prices reasonable at the epoch, and our visits to KADEWE were weekly, and took up ALL of Saturday!
A little tour around the whole place (and it was big) keeping an eye open for the celebrities, then up to the "Schlemmer" etage ( the gourmet's department) where almost everything could be tasted and ordered for consummation at the little bars and tables.
When I say everything was available - I mean it....! I even saw some rather disgusting and I would have thought illegal things on sale, like "Bear Steaks" or "Lion Steaks" - with the beasts on display in the cold storage rooms. We didn't eat them, we stayed within limits - snails, frogslegs and the like!
The cheese counter was unbeleivable. I honestly beleive that ALL of the over 3000 French cheese types Gen de Gaulle spoke of, were present, together with a few thousand of other cheeses from absolutely EVERYWHERE!
Of course - the need for the propoganda has disappeared now, so I don't know what it's all like in 2009.
When the Wall fell, I found myself, with my wife on the way back from France to Bavaria in Southern Germany, and didn't have a great deal to do with the whole thing. We followed the story with interest of course, but felt no desire to go to Berlin to see events!
We had both been subject to pleasant and unpleasant experiences, in both East and West Berlin, but those in East Berlin will have to wait for some time before being recounted. They WILL be told, but in a separate series.
The point of this little series is to note the anniversary of the Unification of Germany and the Fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.
Some people were and still aren't happy with the events, on both sides, but it's proof enough that in general -
Nothing is forever!
30600 - Vauvert, France ............... I W Mitchell