do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Anything non-technical you want to talk about, talk it over and have beer ...

do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby tabbycat » 29 Jan 2015, 03:55

i watched the superb 'das leben der anderen' last night for about the tenth time. never fails to stir me deeply.
highly recommended if you haven't seen it yet.


Link

it's a period of european history i've always been fascinated by, and wary of as a precedent. and it made me wonder if anyone here (as this is the only international forum i really spend time on) had any direct experience of that system, from either side of the wall?
it's only twenty-five years ago and a sneeze (november 1989) since that system came to an abrupt end, which isn't that long. easily within living memory. i just wondered if anyone had anything they wanted to say about it within this international forum. to share an experience of it they had for those who didn't know it.

i went to a checkpoint-charlie place in berlin in 1988 and stood next to the wire and achtung signs. but i never really experienced it personally as anything other than a sleepyhead college exchange student on a day trip to a barbed wire fence. and most germans i remember trying to talk to about it at that time just shook their heads sadly when asked. as people used to do in the uk when people spoke of 'the irish problem'. not making any comparison other than that they both once seemed to be completely unresolvable problems that everyone regretted but felt powerless to even address in any useful way.

i know this isn't a stomp box issue. am taking the cafe door policy of "anything non-technical you want to talk about" literally.

but am learning german atm, i watched the film again because of it, and i thought someone here might have a tale to tell.

tabbycat.
"be a good animal, true to your instincts" (d.h. lawrence).
"there is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" (francis bacon).
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby sinner » 29 Jan 2015, 10:18

I have no any significant memories as I was only 9 when communism shit the brick but I have some.

I remember staying in queue to one shop while my grandma was queuing the other one. I remember my father telling me not to share with others that we have fruit smoothy at home... whole container

Queues (any - petrol, food, coffee) and secrets. This is what I remember mostly. There was some fun things to. For kids, we enjoyed simple things and was more creative to get fun. Today's kids faces and souls would melt the fuck down with two channel TV we had back then

I'm glad this is gone, I hope for good

Edit: that was in Poland btw.

There's one moment I do really remember. Lech Walesa's president election. I was wondering why whole my family is listening to that boring shit on the radio. Today I know that it was something important, something that started to change my country
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby Dirk_Hendrik » 29 Jan 2015, 10:31

Being only a few years older that Sinner and living at the other side of the curtain memories are a little different. My parents had friends in Potsdam. For that reason I visited E-Germany and Chechoslovakia a few times while being 6-.

East-German border, both directions, was something I considered extremely scary (at that age). Very agressive at everyone and, I think, the main reason I never like customs anywhere in the world. In East germany I was given loads of a local made variant of Meccano. I understood way later that my parents had a hard time getting rid of their non-mandatory exchanged Eastmarks while spending em on something that could beconsidered quality.

Chechoslovakia I mainly remember for the milk that was always sour at the time it was in the shop, all trucks being military green, endless waits to get your visum extended and a candystore with a huge display of the most attractive candies. It was never open. I guess it was one of these stores that only opened for hot shots in the communist party.
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby sinner » 29 Jan 2015, 10:50

Oh I remember more

When I was 2 we moved to Kolobrzeg. This is a town on coast of Poland. That town back then was mainly military, my father was a soldier. Several military units, as well as one big Russian unit on the side of the town in Podczele. Russian kids were highly established.

I remember one time I had a chat with one Russian kid. He asked me why I am so rude to him, after all we are friends. He was holding the knife on my throat

They left the city somewhere in mid 90's.

My father was a friend to Russian captain of some sort. One day we had a dinner in military base in Podczele. He showed me the box with orders. There was a bullet in that box as well. He told me that he's keeping it just in case of suicide

That was fucking creepy
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby darthoverdrive » 29 Jan 2015, 15:04

As a young boy in the 60’s I remember hearing about Radio Free Europe and the Iron Curtain on radio broadcasts. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, later in jr. high history class did I learn. I remember watching TV when the wall came down. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through that.
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby sinner » 29 Jan 2015, 15:57

My childhood was quite happy. Even if it wasn't at times I simply can't blame communists fir that

Surly it's only former Polish kid point of view, our German friends may see it differently

Communism created quite special form of art resistance like Bareja's movies. There was some sport related anti established movements to like "gest Kozakiewicza".

In today's poland art and sport is shit and have no meaning
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby lolbou » 29 Jan 2015, 21:06

Was just 9 when the wall was tear down. Sounded like the eastern people were freed. Freed from what? Didn't have a clue. I guess I thought, from what I knew about it, that life would become easier for them.

Timeline:

1985. Dad bought a Lada 1300 for FF33000. First encounter with russian gear. This one never failed and pulled the folding caravan wih no issue. Talk about a workhorse!

1987/1988. During Christmas time, when I was 6 and 7, my uncle used to host polish dancers (two girls each time) that used to come near Rouen as part of a sorta traditionnal dance festival. They were from around Krakov. I have fond memories of these very Christmas... We had them with us for Christmas Eve these two years. My Mom said to them "would you like to try and give a call to your family?", and they just went into tears of pure joy. They just thought that it was impossible... It seemed that this call was the best gift they ever had in life. I can clearly remember my Dad saying to me that their condition in Poland was more than difficult when compared to ours, and that taking good care of them was a duty, to say the least.

Before coming back to Poland, they've bought large amount of socks. Yes Daddy, their needs were really different indeed...

Later in 1988, my uncle took my older brother in Poland to meet them again, and what he told me did match what Dirk described (especially the border stuff!).

1991. Went in Bulgaria with my parents. Tourism. First real sight of a Trabant. Got a glimpse of the communist atmosphere, but the wheel was already turning... I can remember entering inside the house of a somehow wealth family, that was supposed to be "modern". It all looked so old (I was 11). I would say now that time had stopped back in the 60s.

2001. Met friends in Rouen from the Erasmus student stuff. Aga from Poland, and Daniela from former-DDR. That's when I had the real opportunity to learn more about what it was like on the other side. They were my age, and did not really suffer from it. They remembered the queues and some huge excitement when a delivery of 200 washing-machines was sold in minutes. No such thing as brain washing as far as they remembered (my question about that did surprised them actually, but hey, that's what we were told of)... What these two girls had in common was some wise opinion on the value of things, and the real care for others, pretty much like Sinner said...

2009. Went in Poland with my school. The woman in charge of the religious stuff in my school (a catholic one) is a native Polish called Ana. She's near 60, and came along with us as an interpreter (her french is nearly perfect, and she almost beats me to it!). She was really patient and helped me a lot with my polish practise... I had the luck of exchanging with her on her youth in communist Poland. I can remember one of her stories about her Mom trying real hard to find coloured ribbons, pieces of cloth, whatever, to have something to wear that was different from the others. She felt the urge to teach her children to be individuals on their own, to be different. Creativity as a means to survive somehow...

I'm glad I met these people, before and after the wall...
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby tabbycat » 30 Jan 2015, 02:14

Why do the People's Police go out on patrol in groups of three?
One can read, one can write, and the third is there to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.

A customer orders a Trabant car. The salesman tells him to come back to pick it up in nine years.
The customer: "Shall I come back in the morning or in the evening then?"
The salesman: "You're joking, aren't you."
The customer: "No, not at all. It's just that I need to know whether the plumber can come at 3pm or not."

Why is a sausage like a compass?
Because when you place it on the Berlin Wall you can tell which way is east by the end that’s been eaten.
"be a good animal, true to your instincts" (d.h. lawrence).
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby Duckman » 30 Jan 2015, 08:02

tabbycat wrote:i watched the superb 'das leben der anderen' last night for about the tenth time. never fails to stir me deeply.
highly recommended if you haven't seen it yet.


Link

it's a period of european history i've always been fascinated by, and wary of as a precedent. and it made me wonder if anyone here (as this is the only international forum i really spend time on) had any direct experience of that system, from either side of the wall?
it's only twenty-five years ago and a sneeze (november 1989) since that system came to an abrupt end, which isn't that long. easily within living memory. i just wondered if anyone had anything they wanted to say about it within this international forum. to share an experience of it they had for those who didn't know it.

i went to a checkpoint-charlie place in berlin in 1988 and stood next to the wire and achtung signs. but i never really experienced it personally as anything other than a sleepyhead college exchange student on a day trip to a barbed wire fence. and most germans i remember trying to talk to about it at that time just shook their heads sadly when asked. as people used to do in the uk when people spoke of 'the irish problem'. not making any comparison other than that they both once seemed to be completely unresolvable problems that everyone regretted but felt powerless to even address in any useful way.

i know this isn't a stomp box issue. am taking the cafe door policy of "anything non-technical you want to talk about" literally.

but am learning german atm, i watched the film again because of it, and i thought someone here might have a tale to tell.

tabbycat.
tabbycat wrote:Why do the People's Police go out on patrol in groups of three?
One can read, one can write, and the third is there to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.

A customer orders a Trabant car. The salesman tells him to come back to pick it up in nine years.
The customer: "Shall I come back in the morning or in the evening then?"
The salesman: "You're joking, aren't you."
The customer: "No, not at all. It's just that I need to know whether the plumber can come at 3pm or not."

Why is a sausage like a compass?
Because when you place it on the Berlin Wall you can tell which way is east by the end that’s been eaten.

Bad timing, man :mrgreen:
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby tabbycat » 30 Jan 2015, 08:30

Duckman wrote:Bad timing, man :mrgreen:

no, this is bad timing...


Link
"be a good animal, true to your instincts" (d.h. lawrence).
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby Duckman » 30 Jan 2015, 09:00

:lol:
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby tabbycat » 04 Feb 2015, 01:09

thanks for your memories, sinner.

sinner wrote:...Queues (any - petrol, food, coffee) and secrets. This is what I remember mostly.

the queues thing you mentioned reminded me of this. fascinating insight into the mentality of the all-seeing-all-knowing mentality of that totalitarian mindset. 'engineering' as a science taken to absurd social extremes in this short but brilliant documentary by the by the always excellent adam curtis.


Link

sinner wrote:There's one moment I do really remember. Lech Walesa's president election. I was wondering why whole my family is listening to that boring shit on the radio. Today I know that it was something important, something that started to change my country

as polish do you consider walesa a hero? i remember him being portayed as heroic in the left-orientated media here at the time, and i have always thought of him as such, though i was an idealistic left-inclined student at the time, so not sure my understanding of the situation of the time was as rigorous and balanced as it might be now. (lolbou says the same sort of thing below). i still tend to think of his influence then and legacy now as a positive thing. but i wondered what your impressions of him are, as someone who lived within the situation he created.
do you feel his legacy has endured and been positive? are things getting better in poland these days or is it still troubled by its communist past?
east germany seems to have put a lot of that in the past (it seems, from outside), and to be able to live in the present and look forward to the future. wasn't germany's best century, perhaps. so perhaps that attitude is pure survival spirit.
"be a good animal, true to your instincts" (d.h. lawrence).
"there is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" (francis bacon).
"ni dieu ni maître" (anarchist slogan).
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby tabbycat » 04 Feb 2015, 02:05

lolbou wrote:Was just 9 when the wall was tear down. Sounded like the eastern people were freed. Freed from what? Didn't have a clue. I guess I thought, from what I knew about it, that life would become easier for them.

1987/1988. During Christmas time, when I was 6 and 7, my uncle used to host polish dancers (two girls each time) that used to come near Rouen as part of a sorta traditionnal dance festival. They were from around Krakov. I have fond memories of these very Christmas... We had them with us for Christmas Eve these two years. My Mom said to them "would you like to try and give a call to your family?", and they just went into tears of pure joy. They just thought that it was impossible... It seemed that this call was the best gift they ever had in life. I can clearly remember my Dad saying to me that their condition in Poland was more than difficult when compared to ours, and that taking good care of them was a duty, to say the least.

2001. Met friends in Rouen from the Erasmus student stuff. Aga from Poland, and Daniela from former-DDR. That's when I had the real opportunity to learn more about what it was like on the other side. They were my age, and did not really suffer from it. They remembered the queues and some huge excitement when a delivery of 200 washing-machines was sold in minutes. No such thing as brain washing as far as they remembered (my question about that did surprised them actually, but hey, that's what we were told of)... What these two girls had in common was some wise opinion on the value of things, and the real care for others, pretty much like Sinner said...

I'm glad I met these people, before and after the wall...

thanks for your comments, lolbou. i think we share the same values re europe as a community.

this is exactly the reason i have such a positive and protective attitude to immigrants who come to my country, despite the neo-fascist posturing of of our right wing pm at home and in europe.

the average citizen in the uk currently has a better standard of living than a lot of citizens in countries with a less fortunate past. for lots of reasons. some positive (creative sector does well here) and some negative ('creative accounting' sector), and some purely geographical (when all things are considered, the sea has probably done more to deter a recent major invasion here than any military effort). we have been fortunate, others less so.
which places a moral duty opon us (the uk and wealthier countries of europe) to help out and share our luck with those less fortunate.

if your neighbour's house catches fire in the night you invite them in. give them some clothes. share your food. let them sleep over until they can get back into their house. help them out. do what you can, as you can.
you don't slam the front door in their face and shout through the letter box "you should have got a better smoke alarm".
you also don't take the attitude that you will only help out if you don't have to make any real sacrifices yourself.
helping them out may mean you only have two pieces of toast for breakfast instead of three, because you had to share the last of your loaf. but you don't mind (or shouldn't) because you care for your neighbour, you want them to be happy and you don't want them to suffer if you can do something to prevent it. two pieces is enough if it means your neighbour can eat with you.
and maybe, just maybe, your flat will be struck by lightning tomorrow night.

that is what 'community' means to me. and that is what i think about when i think about the term 'european community'.
it is not business shorthand for "we sell you our stuff and you sell us yours, but we don't want to get involved with you as people."
that is 'commerce' not 'community'. go back to the dictionary, dave and nigel...

lolbou wrote:I can clearly remember my Dad saying to me that their condition in Poland was more than difficult when compared to ours, and that taking good care of them was a duty, to say the least.

your dad is a dude, lolbou.
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby IvIark » 04 Feb 2015, 10:56

My family became friends with a German family we met on holiday in Yugoslavia and the following year in 1987 we went to stay at their house for a holiday in Bad Rodach. We visited Coburg a few times and the family took us as close to the border as we could get without bringing too much attention to ourselves, which was close enough for a good look at the wall and guards patrolling it and they said at one point we were standing in no mans land.

Coburg is a really beautiful place and I'm sure it's even better now it doesn't have an ugly wall next to it.
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby sinner » 04 Feb 2015, 11:13

as polish do you consider walesa a hero?


In essence - yes. "As polish" I owe him a lot

Doesn't change the fact he should shut the fuck up newdays. He was a working class and therefore is quite narrow minded. No offence to working class.

Poland now is nothing that it used to be economically. Social wise? It varies. We still have those post comunism cunts in the gov, but they're harmless - far right and populists is what I'm afraid of. Not only in my old country, in my new one as well
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby modman » 04 Feb 2015, 22:50

when I came home from school one day with a socialist newspaper I had bought, my mum nearly slapped me...
I didn't understand this was spoonfed by my grandfather's ideas, who, according to the story told in the family, was forced to and work in a labour camp and subsequently released because my grandmother was pregnant. By the end of his life, when dementia hit, he had a lot of flashbacks which seemed to hint at military action.

Nobody was ever really scared of the Nazi's for long - only from 1939 until 1945. From 1917 until 1939 and again from 1945 until 1989... we were always scared of the Communists...

One year after the fall of the Berlin wall: 1990, Italian prime ministes Andreotti attested the existence of GLADIO

At least watch the first 10 minutes of this:

Link


Every should have watched this: BBC Timewatch it's bad quality and 2 hours long

Link


Infiltrate, radicalize and discredit your enemies. Sounds familiar?
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby tabbycat » 06 Feb 2015, 00:12

modman wrote:when I came home from school one day with a socialist newspaper I had bought, my mum nearly slapped me...
I didn't understand this was spoonfed by my grandfather's ideas, who, according to the story told in the family, was forced to and work in a labour camp and subsequently released because my grandmother was pregnant. By the end of his life, when dementia hit, he had a lot of flashbacks which seemed to hint at military action.

Nobody was ever really scared of the Nazi's for long - only from 1939 until 1945. From 1917 until 1939 and again from 1945 until 1989... we were always scared of the Communists...

One year after the fall of the Berlin wall: 1990, Italian prime ministes Andreotti attested the existence of GLADIO

Infiltrate, radicalize and discredit your enemies. Sounds familiar?

interesting comment. will investigate the yt clips this weekend when i can give them proper attention.

re the fear of nazis/fear of communists thing...

reminds me of the bit in 'cabaret' when sally, brain and max drive past some nazis beating up some communists and max (symbol of the decadent and moneyed weimar bourgeoisie) says that the bourgeoisie are just temporarily 'using' the nazis to quell protest and social unrest (principally communist protest).
as if the fears and prejudices they were unleashing in the propoganda-believing general public could just be put back in a box once the extablishment had no further use for them.
later on they go to a country pub where the nazis are having a sing-along and the entire clientele are banging on tables and doing nazi salutes.
dryly brian comments "...and you still think you can control them?".
max departs for argentina not long after (presumably to pass wartime in the sunshine) leaving sally and brian with a token pay-off for 'services rendered'.
not a highbrow reference, but nonetheless one which condenses a lot of relevant history into a few symbolic scenes.

ultimately i suppose the thing that i am most afraid of is the tyranny of unquestioning stupidity. attached to any -ism.
i don't know so much about other countries but uk democracy has been rendered practically meaningless as the majority of voters seem to have their ideology and prejudices shaped by small-minded reactionary rags like the sun and daily mail.
they buy that right-wing propoganda wholesale and never pause for half a second to question the values being promoted therein.
and those reactionary values always appeal to people's greed, never to people's better nature (assuming everyone has one). i.e. if we get rid of the 'useless' and apparently 'non-contributing' sections of society there will be more for all of us who are left. recessions and economic depressions just intensify this greed-driven thinking because there is less to go around generally.

at election time those fucked-up values (hatred of foreigners, hatred of the unemployed, hatred of single parents, hatred of anyone trying to do something different, etc) are then neatly translated into votes and the most retarded and depressing kinds of 'democratically elected tyrannies' claw their way into power.
'the people have spoken' they say, 'we have our mandate...'.
"be a good animal, true to your instincts" (d.h. lawrence).
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Re: do you have any memories of living with the berlin wall?

Postby culturejam » 11 Feb 2015, 06:18

I was a few weeks shy of 13 when the Wall was knocked down. So I definitely recall the Wall being a fixture in the nightly news broadcasts.

The movie referenced by the OP is a great film. I saw it a few years ago on Netflix (the system recommended it to me based on other movies I like), and it made a big impact. I highly recommend it, especially for Americans who mostly have absolutely no idea about what went on in East Germany.
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