Sunday, July 4, 2010

The struggles of the Wall

Thursday we visited Charlies Checkpoint along with the wall museum and memorial. Charlies checkpoint was the main checkpoint were people were able to cross the wall from the east to the west. This checkpoint was highly regulated through security where passports were checked and cars where meticulously searched. It was much harder to cross into the west from the east than it was to cross the west from the east. No one wanted to join the eastern communist. The capitalist west was identified through the well known phrase 'the grass is greener on the other side'. The museum revealed personal stories of eastern Germans attempts to cross the wall where some of their attempts ended in death while others recieved their freedom. On June 17, 1953 there was a rise of the rebellion against the Soviet's rule. Many people were unhappy and disturbed by the wall that kept them seperated from their families and individual freedoms. Any person that attempted to cross the wall would be risking their life for a price they were willing to pay. Although most of the people would cross the wall to renite with their families, retrieve their workers rights, or return to their homes; but there were some that did it out of pure fascination of defeat. They did not like the idea of a seperating wall or physical barrier that had power over them. The Berlin Wall went through many phases of development, where the task of passing became more dangerous and difficult. At first the wall was made of coiled barbed wire and eventually progressed to a 13ft tall concrete wall. There was a wall just before the eastern border and a wall just beyond the western border. The area in between these two walls was called 'no man's land'. The Soviets built their wall several feet away from the border so they could more easily regulate and capture victims of escape. There were land mines, watch towers, and sensored guns located along the wall activated fire among any movement. It was a cold and dark place where not many people wanted to come near. But there were some German's that were desperate enough to go beyond all measuers. At the museum, there was an exhibit that told the story of a man that was hit 100 times by the automated guns and suffered much body damage, but was fortunate to survive. Some got scrapped up by barbed wire while others broke their bones from jumping off buildings. After many people had been risking their lives, they found other solutions to sneak people across the border. There were some special cars designed to fit people into the hood next to the engine where they laid snug in the fetal position. Others travelled across the border cramped up in luggage, welding machines, and speaker boxes. Over the years the Soviet's border patrol began to search more meticulously to where they had to develop more solutions for their escape. There was a miniature mobile submarine designed which included deep sea diver's equipment where they were able to cross the Baltic Sea. Some families resulted to lowering their children into deep underground tunnels. There were also people that made their own hot air balloons, where they would be taking the risk of a 'one trial only'. It was sad to hear the helplessness stories of these people when their cry for help could not be heard. The most distrubing part I found in the exhibition was the story of a women seperated from her children. She was a prisoner of the Soviet's for disobeying the law in her family's attempt to escape. During her jail time, she recieved mail in which she had to retrieve from the warden. It was an image of her with her two 5 year old daughters at a halloween carnival. The image struck her as odd when she realized her head had been cut out of the picture. She asked the warden if she had cut her head off and she claimed guilty. She said she needed to come to terms with her punishment and understand that her disobedience cost her her family. She had been stripped of her identity as a mother and will forever suffer the consequences. I felt great remorse for this women and couldn't image the pain of loosing my own children. After the wall fell, she got to reunite with her children as when they were at the age of 22.

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