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Berlin Wall Day


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#21 Panzermann

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 1652 PM

Just as a matter of interest, were non German minorities much in evidence when the wall was up? I read somewhere that the Allied authorities discouraged immigration to the city, because they envisaged, probably rightly, it would rapidly run out of room.

Im just trying to figure out why, if this is a post wall demographic development, why are they only going into West Berlin? Because that is where the money is?

 

Ive just been reading Max Hertzbergs series of Stasi novels, and it was interesting to note in the second one there was a rubbish dump in East Germany where all the West Berlin Rubbish was taken. Id never stopped to consider this would be the case, but of course, it all had to go somewhere.

 

Divided Berlin was much much crazier than that. Underground lines driving from west to west through empty stations in east Berlin, The S-Bahn in all of Berlin was run by the DDR Reichsbahn. With its own railway police force along the tracks. Yes, sworn officials to the DDR enforcing West German law along the tracks. Paid in DM of course, because they were living in the West. And there were more weird entanglements.


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#22 Panzermann

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 1657 PM

That may have been part of its salvation. I was reading the Martin Middlebrook books on the RAF's Berlin raids, and he said that the city was widely spaced, so it was not particularly easy to initiate a firestorm as occurred in Hamburg or Dresden. The widely spaced streets were also an accidental and wholly effective firebreak.

 

I really must visit it someday, ive read too much about it to not see it.

 

Also the many many alley trees and parks are effective barriers. Berlin is a very green city.


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#23 Murph

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 1744 PM

When I was there in 1985 it was also a 24/7 party city.


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#24 Murph

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 1747 PM

 

I will admit I cried when I saw the wall fall.  I saw it close up, and it was evil.

I cry now with the knowledge that since the fall of the Berlin Wall our fellow countrymen, under the age of about 40 years, have not been properly schooled about the evils of Leftist oppression.

 

Agreed.  


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#25 Der Zeitgeist

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0202 AM

I really must visit it someday, ive read too much about it to not see it.

 

With your particular interests in trains and military history, spending about one month there should be just about enough to visit the most notable sites.  :)


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#26 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0216 AM

 

Just as a matter of interest, were non German minorities much in evidence when the wall was up? I read somewhere that the Allied authorities discouraged immigration to the city, because they envisaged, probably rightly, it would rapidly run out of room.

Im just trying to figure out why, if this is a post wall demographic development, why are they only going into West Berlin? Because that is where the money is?

 

Ive just been reading Max Hertzbergs series of Stasi novels, and it was interesting to note in the second one there was a rubbish dump in East Germany where all the West Berlin Rubbish was taken. Id never stopped to consider this would be the case, but of course, it all had to go somewhere.

 

Divided Berlin was much much crazier than that. Underground lines driving from west to west through empty stations in east Berlin, The S-Bahn in all of Berlin was run by the DDR Reichsbahn. With its own railway police force along the tracks. Yes, sworn officials to the DDR enforcing West German law along the tracks. Paid in DM of course, because they were living in the West. And there were more weird entanglements.

 

 

Thats very interesting, I did not realise that. There is part of one of the Hertzberg novels where the protagonists walks out of a station, which is still in the east, and as soon as he steps off the steps, he find himself in the West. That is kind of weird.

 

There was a book I read that claimed that some guys were doing drilling on a road right by the border in Berlin, and were watched over by a border guard. When they had to get some part to replace the pipe they were working on, they put the drill down. In the East. The Border Guard supposedly picked it up, and took it in the East where it was never seen again. im sure he got an order of Iron Felix 3rd class for that one.


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 11 November 2019 - 0217 AM.

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#27 Panzermann

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0913 AM

Actually, the train stations for the S-Bahn were also owned by the Reichsbahn, so technically they were kind of in the east as well.

Because they did not want to give more money than they absolutely had to to east Berlin, the omnibus service was buildup massively in the west to replace the S-Bahn with subsidized prices. which worled more or less, as the bsses were new and modern, whereas the S-Bahn were driving the 1930ies cars still. In the eighties the s-Bahn seems to have been mostly used by the infamous "S-Bahn surfers", that climbed outside the cars and "surfed" the trains.

 

 

Electricity and water supply was also interconnected of course. With the accompanying problems like electricity being cut during the blockade. whcih led to the construction of new power plants if possible and big big store houses full of batteries to buffer the fluctuations and short black outs. But what do you expect happens, when you cut a organically grown city in half from one day to the other?


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#28 Panzermann

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0921 AM

The ninth of Novembre is a day with many important dates in German history. 

 

in 1848 Robert Blum was fusiliered. He is kind of the martyr of the '48 revolution.

in 1918 Republics were declared twice that day. An adhoc one by Ebert (SPD) to pre-empt the planned for later that day declaration of a council republic by Liebknecht (KPD). Legend has it that Ebert was eating dinner in the Reichstag, when he heard of the plan and then ran off to declare his own republic.

in 1936 Reichskristallnacht

in 1967 the first big demonstration students that led to all the 1968 stuff in Germany

 

 

 

Makes me wonder what the next important date on a 9th of Novembre in German history is going to be?


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#29 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0922 AM

Actually, the train stations for the S-Bahn were also owned by the Reichsbahn, so technically they were kind of in the east as well.

Because they did not want to give more money than they absolutely had to to east Berlin, the omnibus service was buildup massively in the west to replace the S-Bahn with subsidized prices. which worled more or less, as the bsses were new and modern, whereas the S-Bahn were driving the 1930ies cars still. In the eighties the s-Bahn seems to have been mostly used by the infamous "S-Bahn surfers", that climbed outside the cars and "surfed" the trains.

 

 

Electricity and water supply was also interconnected of course. With the accompanying problems like electricity being cut during the blockade. whcih led to the construction of new power plants if possible and big big store houses full of batteries to buffer the fluctuations and short black outs. But what do you expect happens, when you cut a organically grown city in half from one day to the other?

 

Absolutely. I never stopped to think about any of this.You see the wall, but you dont think of the effect seperating a city would have on both halves on it. Presumably there were repercussions for the Eastern half when this happened as well?


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#30 Panzermann

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0930 AM

Pretty much the same in reverse. Most noticeably the underground lines were going through west sectors in a few places and so that the east germans could not run away the stations were closed, empty and mostly dark with maybe a border guard patrolling.  It was of course easier to replace infrastructure in West Berlin for the east, because they just connected to surrounding Brandenburg.


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#31 Der Zeitgeist

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0932 AM

Presumably there were repercussions for the Eastern half when this happened as well?

 

A lot of standard city infrastructure was lost with the division of the city. For example, East Berlin didn't have a zoo or a botanical garden until they built their own versions, while West Berlin didn't have a large opera at first.


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#32 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0934 AM

Pretty much the same in reverse. Most noticeably the underground lines were going through west sectors in a few places and so that the east germans could not run away the stations were closed, empty and mostly dark with maybe a border guard patrolling.  It was of course easier to replace infrastructure in West Berlin for the east, because they just connected to surrounding Brandenburg.

 

Yes, I remember reading in 'Berlin then and now' about various underground stations that were closed. It must have been really interesting to reopen them on unification.

 

There was a particularly interesting story I read in a railway magazine about an escape involving a steam train, I guess on the U Bahn? The tracks had not been lifted yet, so the driver opened the throttle and took a drive to the West. The Border guards soon learned form the mistake and lifted the tracks though.


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#33 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0937 AM

 

Presumably there were repercussions for the Eastern half when this happened as well?

 

A lot of standard city infrastructure was lost with the division of the city. For example, East Berlin didn't have a zoo or a botanical garden until they built their own versions, while West Berlin didn't have a large opera at first.

 Supposedly allied service's personnel liked to go to the Eastern one, partly because it was so well restored, but being subsidized, the tickets were dirt cheap.

 

I did read the Anhalter Bahnhoff was demolished because it serviced western cities, of which where was obviously a distinct lack of requirement. Cant remember when  it was knocked down though.


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#34 Der Zeitgeist

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 0959 AM

During the years I lived in Berlin, one of the most interesting places I visited was the U-Bahn station "Pankstraße" on the U8 line in West Berlin. It was built in the late 1970s when West Berlin expanded several U-Bahn lines, and from the outset of the construction it also became what is known in German as a "Mehrzweckanlage", or "multi-purpose facility", the formalized name for an underground structure that could be converted into a large civil defense fallout shelter. Many underground parking garages in Germany are also built like that.

 

At first glance, it looks like a totally regular U-Bahn station, but there's wall paneling that can be quickly removed to close off the pedestrian entrances as well as the four rail tunnel portals with heavy concrete blast doors that would slide from behind the walls to seal off the station. In times of crisis, two trains would be parked on the station tracks to provide seating in addition to field beds and additional seating that would fill up the concourse areas. The side rooms had power generation, kitchen facilities, washrooms (with mirrors made out of steel to prevent breaking them and using them as weapons). The toilet stalls had shower curtains instead of lockable doors, to prevent people from locking themselves inside (lessons learned from WW2, people able to isolate themselves might commit suicide). One of the most eerie experiences was seeing the airlock that would serve as the entrance when the facility was actually used and sealed. It had decontamination showers and also some original examples of the  complete set of more than 3000 shrink-wrapped 1980s-style Adidas track suits that were stored at the facility. It was assumed that people would enter the facility with contaminated clothing, so everyone would be provided with one of these track suits after showering.

 

The facility was in pretty good shape in 2008, when I took a guided tour there, but I'm not sure if the technical equipment has been maintained since then. After 9/11, they still did regular tests on the diesel generators and tunnel blast doors.

 

EDIT: This site by the organizers of the tours also has a few pictures:
https://www.berliner...ar-bunkers.html


Edited by Der Zeitgeist, 11 November 2019 - 1003 AM.

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#35 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 1013 AM

Thats fascinating. Needless to say, we havent had anything like that since the war. But then the only concern that worried us was nuclear attack, less conventional possibilities. The only blast doors I know of on the London underground was to keep the Thames out on the under river tunnels.


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#36 Der Zeitgeist

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 1030 AM

Going through the pictures on the site I remembered one detail that was shown in the tour, that's how the entrances to the airlocks worked. They thought quite a bit about crowd control and had things like mechanical counters to track the numbers of people entering. But how do you close the doors when thousands of people are rushing inside and there's only room for about 3300?

 

That's where the "Bürgerpresse" came in, a door that was designed to be hydraulically closed straight into a crowd of people without crushing anyone in the process. In this picture, it's visible with its rounded "lips" along the edge (behind that is the blast door to the actual airlock). These rounded edges had metal springs so they would retract a little if body parts like arms were caught between them. So you could close the door with the hydraulics straight into the crowd and then pull out anyone caught between them, while the springs were also tight enough to prevent anyone from squeezing their whole body through.

 

Fuehrungen_Tour_3_Bild_16-Holger_Happel_


Edited by Der Zeitgeist, 11 November 2019 - 1038 AM.

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#37 Der Zeitgeist

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 1300 PM

Interesting video I found, BRIXMIS car going across the wall in 1988.

 


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#38 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 1314 PM

Yeah that is a good one.

Here is 'The Tube' Berlin special, with some good footage of the wall and other areas of Berlin in the mid 80's.

https://m.youtube.co...h?v=T6kGrjUAk0s
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#39 Dave Clark

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 1342 PM

 

 

Presumably there were repercussions for the Eastern half when this happened as well?

 

A lot of standard city infrastructure was lost with the division of the city. For example, East Berlin didn't have a zoo or a botanical garden until they built their own versions, while West Berlin didn't have a large opera at first.

 Supposedly allied service's personnel liked to go to the Eastern one, partly because it was so well restored, but being subsidized, the tickets were dirt cheap.

 

I did read the Anhalter Bahnhoff was demolished because it serviced western cities, of which where was obviously a distinct lack of requirement. Cant remember when  it was knocked down though.

 

In February 1945, an Allied air attack badly damaged the roof of the main hall; on 17 April a last train of refugees left the station. After the Americans had demolished the remnants of the roof (for safety reasons), local traffic was resumed in August 1945. By summer 1949 11 pairs of trains were running, increasing to 19 by 1951.

 

In 1951 the Reichsbahn decided that all long distance trains to Berlin would terminate on East Berlin territory. So on 17 May 1952 the Reichsbahn stopped trains going into Anhalter Bahnhof and lead them instead into Ostbahnhof. The station and its tracks were maintained until November 1959 when the demolition commenced, terminating in 1962.


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#40 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 1407 PM

Cheers for that Dave. Is the station entrance still standing?


Incidentally, good book recomendation. I must have got this nearly 2 decades ago, and I've not regretted it.

https://www.amazon.c...r/dp/090091372X
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