Before I go forward with my story of Berlin in the Summer of 1989, I must explain that the West Berliners were cut off from the rest of West Germany. There were three corridors out of West Berlin, but it wasn’t easy for West Germans to use these. Pan Am had an Internal German Service, and they flew shuttles in and out of Berlin. This was why, back in 1989, Jack was brought back in with Pan Am to fly Charter Flights out of West Berlin to various vacation destinations. Here is a map that shows just how cut-off West Berlin was from West Germany.
While living there I was so impressed with the West Berlin people I came into contact with. They were happy people, and despite the fact that they lived in a closed city, they made their own parties! There were, The German/American Folkfest, The German/French Folkfest, and The German/British Folkfest! There were parades and parties and life was good.
In July of 1989, we flew over to the USA, picked up our two daughters, Mandy almost 13 and Jessica age 11. Neither one of them had been to Germany as teenagers, and we decided before we arrived back in Berlin to have them experience Germany as a German. No American Fast Food, and to learn and use some German language.
Jessica, Mandy and me at the Berlin Zoo.
Jack, me and Jessica at the Berlin Zoo.
The girls were a little nervous at first, but soon Mandy was asking to go out alone or with Jessica and get Currywurst and Pomme Frites at the corner stall. I encouraged them, as back in 1989, West Berlin was one of the safest places in the world.
We lived close to the Europa Center, and I would take the girls there for shopping and lunch and I seem to recall Mandy having her first beer (with me) there. As you can see, Mandy did not look 13 years old! The waiter asked if she would like a beer and she looked at me, with questioning eyes and I shook my head yes!
The girls enjoyed the festivals, and we went to everyone they had while we were there. They enjoyed all the rides and the foods, and I think in many ways these light-hearted times have remained with them.
We ate out a lot and they both tried new things, but mostly they stuck to the tried and true, chicken, sausages, and french fries.
We took them to the Glienicker Brücke, which is also known as the Bridge of Spies. The Glienicke Bridge was a restricted border crossing between the Eastern Block (namely Potsdam in East Germany) and territory affiliated with the Western powers (namely the American sector of West Berlin), the Americans and Soviets used it for the exchange of captured spies during the Cold War.
The first prisoner exchange took place on 10 February 1962. The Americans released Rudolf Abel, convicted for spying for the Soviet Union in 1957, in exchange for Gary Powers, the pilot of a U-2 spy plane shot down in 1960.
Amanda in the white skirt and Jessica in the navy blue skirt.
Remember, at this time, the bridge was still off limits and the Wall was still very much in place.
We also took them to a viewing area, where they could look at the Wall and look over the Wall. It made a big impact on them. Especially Amanda, who flipped off an East German Border Guard while she was standing there!
And of course, we took them to places where they could go up close to the Wall. The West Berliners had many walking areas, right up alongside!
I think the best part of the summer was that the two girls got to see Communism in action. I am so glad that they did!
More to come!