Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Between the Fuehrer and the Berlin Wall

My mom cleaned out her attic last week and came across some slides taken in Europe in the late 1950's while my grandfather was stationed at Rhein-Main Airforce base.

The pictures showed this era as a fascinating time to be in Europe (especially Germany) so soon after WWII. To me, the coolest shots were the photos from a trip they took to Berlin in 1960. Keep in mind, the Cold War was just heating up (no pun intended) and Berlin was right at the heart of the geopolitical tensions of the times.

When I first came across this photo of my Mamaw and Pop in front of the Brandenburg Gate (click to enlarge) my jaw hit the floor. This photo was snapped about a year before the infamous Berlin Wall went up and snuffed out most contact between the two Germanies. That's why this shot is so fascinating for me. Before the Wall, there was a sign! That kinda blows me away.

The Brandenburg Gate was later the site of a massive protest the day beofore the Iraq war began. I was in Berlin that week and the demonstration was powerful and impressive......Too bad it didn't work!!

Anyway, that trip (2002) was the last time I was in Berlin and still single. Of course the wall had long since fallen by that point and Berlin didn't look like a bombed out moon base like it did in 1960!
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You might also notice in the pics that my grandparents were dressed to the nines. In fact, in all of the shots, they were fancied up: suits, dresses, hats, gloves, etc. Even the kids.

In the second pic (click to enlarge) my grandmother is strolling past the rubble of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. As you can see, the Allies banged it up pretty bad!! The church still stands as a memorial of war, looking much the same today as it did then. In the bottom picture (of a modern Berlin) you see the church next to a renovated hexagonal belltower.

The Kaiser Wilhelm church is a provocative monument to war in the heart of a reunified metropolis. And the park nearby is a great place to smoke a joint, or so I hear.

Do you have a city that you love as much as I love Berlin? Tell me about it!


Bearette24 said...

i'd have to say new york :) London and san fran are great as well. and boston, just b/c i grew up near there.

J said...

I love these pictures! My mom says when she was a girl, there's no way you went to "the city" (in our case that was San Francisco) in anything less than a dress and white gloves. :) SOOO interesting to see the sign between east and west Berlin.

Paris I love. LOVE. Also New York, Philly (though that one took awhile), DC, San Francisco (1st in my heart), and um...not sure what else.

Ben Heller said...

I love Stockholm, Athens, and Cologne (Koln).

Those are brilliant pics Jay.

dbv said...

for some reason this reminds me of phil hartman doing the sassy magazine bit... what makes mamaw so sassy? those pics are fabulous... dbv

dbv said...

almost forgot... new orleans... do you know what it means to miss new orleans? the sad part is it'll never be back in my lifetime...