This morning we had a sightseeing tour of the city of Berlin. We visited the Brandeburg Gate and then to the Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall is an iconic symbol of the Cold War constructed on August 13 1961, and dismantled in November 1989. Part of the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall was the most prominent part of the German Democratic Republics border system. Conceived by the East German administration of Walter Ulbricht and approved by Soviet leader Khrushchev, the wall was a barrier between West Berlin and East Germany which closed the border between East and West Berlin for a period of 28 years. It was built during the post-WW2 period of a divided Germany, in an effort to stop the drain of labor and economic output associated with the daily migration of huge numbers of professionals and skilled workers between East and West Berlin. However, the creation of the Wall was a propaganda disaster for East Germany and for the communist bloc as a whole. It became a key symbol of what Western powers regarded as Communist tyranny, particularly after the high-profile shootings of would-be defectors. Political liberalization in the late 1980s, associated with the decline of the Soviet Union, led to relaxed border restrictions in East Germany, culminating in mass demonstrations and the fall of the East German government. Symbolically, the tearing down of the wall has come to represent the collapse of Communism in East Europe. By December 1991, the Soviet Union had been dissolved, and by the end of 1992 every communist regime had collapsed except China, North Korea and Cuba.
We walked around this area and visited the Robert Havemann Society's open-air exhibition "Revolution and the Fall of the Wall" which is dedicated to the history of the Peaceful Revolution of 1989/90 - from the beginnings of the protest via the fall of the Wall to German unity. When did the Awakening begin? How did the Revolution take place? What prompted the Fall of the Wall and what stages occurred on the road to German Unity?
The exhibition traces the complex process of self-liberation and shows the changing motives and goals of those involved. The focus is on those courageous East Germans who stood up to the communist dictatorship and ended up toppling it.
From here we went onto Checkpoint Charlie which was the name given by the Western Allies to the Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War from 1947 to 1991. We stopped and had photos taken with Germans dressed as soldiers.
After lunch we joined our coach and crossed the Oder River into Poland for an overnight in Poznan at the Novotel Poznan Centrum. The hotel room looked like it was from the 1950's. The room was very old and stuffy and the furniture was overdue for an upgrade. We had tea around 6.30pm and met up with Sandy and Martin and walked into the old town where the historic Poznań Town Hall stands in the middle of the Main Market square. At the western end of the Old Town is the hill (Góra Przemysła) on which the castle stood. The city walls were taken down when the city expanded in the early 19th century, but the street layout of the Old Town still corresponds closely to that of the former protected city, with a grid of narrow streets. Some surviving fragments of the walls can still be seen. We also noticed a Red Light area and some ladies with umbrellas tried to pick Peter up. We stopped at an outside cafe and had a nightcap, Pete & Martin tried some local Lech Beer and I stayed with Jack Daniels.
Sightseeing in the morning then cross the Oder River into Poland for an overnight in Poznan.