We visited West Germany in the summer of 1979. I was 9 years old then. Those days there was no visa requirement. You could just land up. No entry stamp to indicate when you came or went. When entering East Germany though, the Deutsche Demokratische Republik did put a DDR stamp to record your presence.
We stayed with one of Dad’s old time friends in East Berlin. After our trip, we took a train back from East Berlin to West Berlin. It was a rutty-putty train in contrast to the other ones we’d been on during our holiday. When crossing the border, the train halted for checks by the police. Sniffer dogs made their way inside and outside the train. The atmosphere was tense and a bit scary for us. It seems that people from the East would try to escape by dangerously hiding under the train coaches and in other inconspicuous places. They’d often get caught and then God knows what would happen to them.
Visiting Berlin definitely means going to the Brandenburg Gate. We were not allowed to go too close and had to see it from a distance. Little did we know that in about a decade, the political nature of the place would be quite different.
Today we pass the 30th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, a defining moment that represented the end of the Cold War in Europe. The reminder made me dig out these pictures at the Brandenburg Gate. Dad had visited a few times when he was living in Germany, and later too, and my brother once brought back a Lego set as a keepsake.