Flashback to July 21, 1977, and the day I crossed the Berlin Wall. I’m reminded of this day because of the events at the weekend held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the wall coming down. Not many Aussies visited East Berlin in those days, least of all a trio of unaccompanied minors (my cousin and I were 16 and my sister 17, and our grand trip of Europe sans parents was formative in the development of a lifelong love of travel). We crossed the border at Checkpoint Charlie (photo at left) and were flush with funds, having changed our Marks at a West German bank where the exchange rate was a zillion times higher than it was in the east (you weren’t supposed to do that, but that’s the beauty of being young and naïve). There was little to buy in the shops so we ate like kings – or at least as extravagantly as one could in ‘70s East Berlin. Apart from a copy of the Communist Manifesto, these are my only mementoes of that day. It was expensive to develop film so we didn’t take many photos, and there must have been some nervousness about photographing up close. The other photo is of the Brandenburg Gate, just inside the wall. At the height of the Cold War, no-one could ever have imagined the wall coming down; it’s incredible to think that it’s now just a distant memory.
Photo & text © Christine Salins
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