- Royce: Putin recruiting ‘every skinhead and malcontent around Russia’
- Nancy Pelosi is adamant: Congress worked together when Bush was president
- ‘Slender Man’ stabbing victim receives Purple Heart from anonymous veteran
- Kentucky city called socialist for buying gas station, undercutting competitor fuel prices
- Israel hits five mosques, sports complex in overnight Gaza strikes
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters’ questions on book tour
- EPA tweet baffles: ‘I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ iPhone game
- Australian P.M. Abbott: MH17 evidence tampered with on ‘industrial scale’
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez tells Hispanics to vote and ‘punish those’ who oppose amnesty
- Country singer Tim McGraw not sorry for slapping female fan: ‘Things happen’
Relics of grim era keep past in mind
Question of the Day
BERLIN | It’s not the “ash-heap of history,” but it’s close: Remnants of the Berlin Wall stand half-forgotten in a overgrown cemetery near the heart of this once-divided city.
Elsewhere around Berlin, paving stones dotting across wide avenues, concrete barriers lining long boulevards and huge slabs bearing years of graffiti show where the great barrier once separated East from West and communist from democrat — even in death.
A 200-yard-long intact section of the Wall runs along one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Bernauer Strasse. In a nearby cemetery, about a dozen slabs of reinforced concrete stand as an ironic monument to the lasting power of their original purpose.
When the Wall was constructed, it cut through cemeteries, it cut through apartment complexes, it cut through playgrounds, it cut through families — unstoppable — for 96 miles through the city and through the country. For those on the East side, it meant imprisonment; for those on the West, sadness.
It was a death zone — a gantlet of walls, trenches, barbed wire and guard towers manned by grim snipers with shoot-to-kill orders. Floodlights bathed the surroundings in a harsh, nightmarish glow so intense that a mouse could not hide from sight.
Today, little is left of the Wall, and motorists and pedestrians pass by, giving it little notice. The paving stones on and around Potsdamer Platz are crossed every day by tourists and residents unaware of the former dividing line, which is noted periodically by metallic markers in the pavement.
TWT RELATED STORIES:
• 20 years after the Berlin Wall’s fall: An East European looks back
• For Germany, unity proves elusive
• Democracy a struggle in former Soviet Union
• Poland embraces past while moving ahead
• Students lack historical perspective of Berlin Wall
• Threats blurred for U.S. after Cold War
• NATO, EU experience growing pains
• Artists marginalized by own revolution
• Communism’s fall opened sports world
However, some draw attention to the fallen barrier, such as a dance troupe led by German choreographer Nejla Y. Yatkin, who grew up with the Wall. In her work, she has sought to capture the danger and isolation the Wall has represented, as well as the liberation and joy of its sudden demise.
Her troupe’s “Dancing With the Berlin Wall” project in July produced a video of dancers per forming with the Wall, using it not only as a backdrop but also as a dance partner. Dressed in tan trench coats like those of East German secret service agents, dancers paraded around, leapt onto and clambered atop the remains of the barricade in a physical display of the emotions evoked by the Wall. The project was supported by the Goethe Institute of New York City and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
What’s more, fresh graffiti adorns the eastern side of the Wall’s remnants — a brightly colored, personal expression of freedom and hope at a place where proximity meant death by automatic gunfire.
Twenty years have passed since most of the Wall came down, and what’s left — less than two miles of battered and scattered concrete ramparts — bears witness to a history that many Germans say should never be forgotten, or repeated.
Sections of the Wall at Niederkirchner Strasse are fenced in to protect them from souvenir seekers. At Bernauer Strasse fresh concrete fills in gaps where mementos had been taken. And the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery, where much of the Wall’s artwork is displayed, has painted over its section in an effort to preserve it.
• Astrid Riecken, an award-winning photographer for The Washington Times, was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1993. Carleton Bryant assisted in the writing of this essay.
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters' questions on book tour
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq