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Check! (from Berlin – 28 June 2010) August 30, 2010

Posted by Andrew Punnoose in Travel Log.
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We arrived in Berlin yesterday, around 6 pm, after leaving from the Hotel Tourisme in Paris at 7 am. We missed the Germany-England football game, but got to Berlin just in time to see the whole city erupting in celebration. It was pretty incredible – the streets were filled with honking cars, people walking through the streets with flags as capes, and with the sound of vuvuzelas. When Cate, one of the graduate students on the program, asked a German about where to find something, he said, “No, today, we do not speak English!” It was a great example of the relatively recent emergence of German patriotism.

German patriotism

German patriotism in the streets of Berlin, after a World Cup match

Today was our first official introduction to German history, at Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was a checkpoint along the Berlin wall, dividing East and West Berlin. The museum (most certainly my favorite yet) at the checkpoint, started by Ranier Hildebrant in 1963, was intended to depict shootings of people attempting to flee across the wall from the East to the West. The most striking takeaway from the museum was the lengths to which people went to escape, indicating their desperation to leave and the conditions of life in East Berlin. The ingenuity of escapees was both awe-inspiring and disturbing. Richard Furrer was an escape helper who helped dig a tunnel, later named “Tunnel 57”, as it was used by 57 people to escape to West Berlin in October 1954. Furrer went on to be a member of the Space Shuttle flight crew working with the German SpaceLab. The photos below are, from left to right, two brothers reuniting after escaping through Tunnel 57, a person being hoisted up from the tunnel, and “happy fiancees looking forward to a new life with their ‘ferrymen.’” The rightmost photo was the main reason I took this picture; the happiness of this escapee was the flipside to the emotions evoked by the multitudes who never made it across.

Checkpoint Charlie

At the Checkpoint Charlie Museum



1. Chris Olson - September 2, 2010

Being in Europe during World Cup season is definitely a must-see fervor, so much fun! I loved Germany though I unfortunately didn’t get to go to Berlin, and now whenever I do get that chance I’ll for sure visit Checkpoint Charlie, especially if you claim it was your favorite museum.

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