East Berlin & Check-Point Charlie, 1976 …. The Depth of the Cold War

Michael Roberts

My good friend Lam Seneviratne in Colombo has chosen to insert this comment in response to one of the Thuppahi Items: “In 1972 I had the opportunity to go through Checkpoint Charlie at Freidrichstrase to East Berlin. The contrast was stark, everything was drab and depressing.” … see https://thuppahis.com/2023/10/09/the-berlin-wall-dividing-west-east-berlin-epitome-of-the-cold-war/.

Well, it so happens that I had the benefit of an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship in West Germany for over a year in 1975/76 (received when teaching at Peradeniya University). The Humboldt Foundation organised a trip to West Berlin for its scholars in the summer of 1976. On a free day I joined an Italian American and Japanese American in venturing into East Berlin via Checkpoint Charlie (quite an interesting process in itself). We visited an interesting museum during this trip. THEN, when we came out into one of the broad streets adjoining the museum, we were startled to find ourselves on a sidewalk with numerous imposing black cars parked along this broad street with liveried chauffeurs and some police personnel here and there.

Fascinating scenery! Fascinating moments! But, being Simple-Simon Lankan, I had no camera. However, both my companions were armed with cameras. So, I asked them to take pictures. Guess what: both firmly refused to take photos of the meaningful scenarios unfolding in front of our eyes. Bugger! …………….a golden scenario unrecorded!

LESSON: the imprint and permeation of the COLD WAR ran deep.




The Berlin Wall




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