Jump to content

readingtype

30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall

Recommended Posts

3 hours ago, burgundy said:

The relationship was strictly among the 4 occupying powers, so that the East German military were ignored in any border formalities.

  

 

Just to clarify this point

 

Under the Potsdam Agreement of 1945,  the three Allied Powers, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, had agreed that a final peace agreement would have to wait on the re-establishment of a German government adequate for the purpose of agreeing to Allied peace terms. In the interim, it was intended that the Allied Control Council would act exercise all sovereign authority within Germany; while the Council of Foreign Ministers would oversee the development of new German State institutions.

 

Subsequently, as Cold War antagonisms grew, the same institutions came to be largely nullified by disputes between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. The United States and the United Kingdom therefore took the view that a unified German state partially subject to Soviet authority could not be allowed to emerge while the Soviet Bloc remained in eastern Europe.

 

While its true that the western allies / the Soviets did grant each half of Germany more and more power to run their own affairs over time, each 'country' was still constrained in some respects by the Potsdam agreements legacy - and the provisions it contained with regards to Berlin. 

 

What this meant with regards to Berlin during the cold war was that the British, Americans and French refused to recognise the East German military in any official capacity - as far as they were concerned the eastern half of the City was still under occupation by the Soviets and any military matters needed to go through them.

 

Hence at checkpoint Charlie, Allied military personal were forbidden to engage with or follow the instructions of the East German military under ALL circumstances - if they obstructed they were to insist on a Soviet military representative be summoned.

 

Similarly the West Berlin authorities had no rights to interfere with Soviet military personnel - any interaction had to be with the British / French / Americans.
 

Naturally this state of affairs greatly annoyed the East German Communist regime - who had proclaimed Berlin as their capital city. Several attempts were made by them over the years to take full control of the border, but on each occasion the Soviets (who technically were still the occupying power regardless of what the East German Communist party said) forced the East Germans to back down due to American pressure and a desire for both superpowers to try and prevent the cold war from suddenly becoming a hot one as far as Europe went.

 

Thus World war 2 did NOT end in 1945 - it actually only ended in 1990 when the end of the cold war finally allowed the "re-establishment of a German government adequate for the purpose of agreeing to Allied peace terms" as per the Potsdam Agreement of 1945.

 

The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany was signed in Moscow, Soviet Union, on 12 September 1990 and paved the way for German reunification on 3 October 1990. Under the terms of the treaty, the Four Powers renounced all rights they formerly held in Germany, including those regarding the city of Berlin.

 

Upon deposit of the last instrument of ratification, united Germany became fully sovereign on 15 March 1991.

 

 

Edited by phil-b259
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
  • Informative/Useful 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
On 10/11/2019 at 01:10, Steamysandy said:

Strangely enough photographing steam was apparently a regular thing .There's a DVD titled Steam to the Borders which was a record of a British Group going round the various narrow gauge lines by bus just before the wall came down.

I've seen film of the End of West German steam at  Rheine in 1977.On one of the Special trains a group have a load of photos--- of East German Steam!

 

I know somebody who went to East Germany several times in the 80s specifically to photograph steam. Most of the DR staff didn't care for politics and were happy to show off their beasts. He was shown around several loco depots and other facilities. On one occasion he was in a signal box when the signalman pointed out a rather shabby car parked on the nearby road and explained it was the the local Stasi but he shouldn't worry about it. Apparently the local secret plod would automatically assume that a stranger driving a car with Berlin plates and openly carrying a West German or Japanese camera was from headquarters and were just trying to show they were doing their job!

 

Cheers

David

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A native of Magdeburg lived nearby for some time.  He had seen quite a bit but he had kept in touch with someone in Magdeburg.

One of his observations was that if the Russians could have put wheels on it,the Cathedral would have went East as well!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, readingtype said:

Sorry, questions, please forgive me: Dare I ask what was in the briefcase?

 

I believe the briefcase would have contained all the passports of the train's occupants, along with all the official travel forms. These would be carefully checked and any full stops or commas on the passport had to match those on the travel documents. Reading other online accounts of the military train, there might also have been a bottle of whisky to assist the Soviet officer's eyesight during the checking.

 

 

  • Funny 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another point of interest, it seems that the Soviets built their war memorial in Berlin before the city was divided up between the occupying forces, and it ended up being in what became West Berlin. So, every day, a Soviet military 'honour guard' had to cross into West Berlin to stand watch at the memorial.

 

 

  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Soviet military also had to come into West Berlin to take their turns guarding Rudolf Hess and others in Spandau Prison.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Poster and sticker I bought at Haus am Checkpoint Charlie in about 1981.

847563409_CheckpointCharlieposter.jpg.9162b38c7f327d62754fae0937553f3c.jpg

 

Caption reads:

"So können Sie herübersehen und so. Unsere Verhaltensweise kann entscheidend Ihr Denken beeinflüssen."

With a slightly free translation "They can look so and so. Our behaviour influences their thoughts."

 

As a student, I was on a tourist trip to Berlin from the Ruhr, and so the only English person in a coachload of Germans. At the border, my old-style stiff board passport stuck out of the pile being collected for the armed officials at the front. "Who is this?" "Me" ... worrying pause ... "Alles in Ordnung".

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Ian Morgan said:

Another point of interest, it seems that the Soviets built their war memorial in Berlin before the city was divided up between the occupying forces, and it ended up being in what became West Berlin. So, every day, a Soviet military 'honour guard' had to cross into West Berlin to stand watch at the memorial.

 

 

 

7 hours ago, Ian Morgan said:

The Soviet military also had to come into West Berlin to take their turns guarding Rudolf Hess and others in Spandau Prison.

 

 

I believe Berlin was technically an open city, and the occupying powers were supposed to have free access throughout the whole city. I was told that the Russians would send a military car through the border each day just to drive around a bit in the west. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, pH said:

 

 

I believe Berlin was technically an open city, and the occupying powers were supposed to have free access throughout the whole city. I was told that the Russians would send a military car through the border each day just to drive around a bit in the west. 

 

Not quite - Berlin was not an 'open city' - nor did the Potsdam agreement envisage it being such. The Soviets were quite keen on the idea - but that was mostly because it would mean the Western allies would have to withdraw and a Communist takeover of West Berlin would be easy to arrange without western military forces about!

 

However because a formal piece treaty was not concluded till 1991, the provisions of the Potsdam agreement stayed in force and each of the 4 military allies had the freedom to conduct patrols / inspections in each others sector as they wished. Naturally the military administration of the host sector would pay close attention to the activities of their cold war 'enemy' - as did the East German military although they had to be careful as the western allies refused to have anything to do with them citing the Potsdam agreement.

 

One of the other side effects of Berlin being 'frozen' in 1945 as far as administration goes but not mentioned thus far was airlines not headquartered in the UK, France, the USA or the Soviet Union were BANNED from flying into Berlin airports. The East Germans got round this by building the airport at Schofield outside the Berlin city boundary and thus free from the Potsdam restrictions, but airlines like the West German based Lufthansa could not fly into Tegal

 

 

.

  • Informative/Useful 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry if this isn't really relevant to the 'wall' coming down which I do clearly remember from news reports at the time. My trip to the east would have certainly been harder if not impossible without it though as less than a year later, I undertook a 550 mile cycle ride from Krakow in Poland, through eastern Czechoslovakia to Budapest in Hungary - over the course of ten days or so.

As it was so soon afterwards, all the infrastructure over there was 'as is' but it was noticed that German 'speculators' were already buying up property in Poland, maybe buying back ancestral homes? There were a fair few BMWs and Mercedes around too, as well as plenty of choking 'Trabbi's' and other two-stroke engined vehicles.

Another interesting thing was seeing all the damaged walls from bullets etc in Budapest - marks from 1956 or WW2?

Although I didn't make it to East Germany, my bike did! We had to wait a day in Poland so our bikes could catch up with us as we had flown over but the bikes all went overland.

 

Many years previously, while travelling the world with my parents, we got to know a German couple who had a 'Barkas' ("goes like Sputnik" he would say!) or similar type of camper van. He was known as the 'Berliner' so I presume that is where he came from, east or west I do not know but he managed to drive over to Morocco every winter! That was in the 1970s.

 

As a fan of German steam, there are certainly plenty of colour photos taken of DDR steam running around until the 'end' in 1988 but even then, they still did plenty of 'plandampf's. I only wish I had made it there prior to 88!

Cheers,

John.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The combination of the two Germany's railways didn't take place until 1994.I transited through Berlin en route to Poland in May 1992 and went on a steam hauled railtour to Meiningen Works in October 1993. There was still a different feel about things even then.

That was my last European trip. Locos were 44 1093 and 50 3501 with SSN 23 023 from Meiningen back to Rotterdam ( all three locos on the train from Meiningen to Arnstadt!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not just Berlin, but the "Iron Curtain" severed railways across Europe.

 

A line between Bavaria and what is now called Czechia was built when there was a good relationship between the two, and the station at Bayerische Eisenstein was actually built straddling the border. When the 'Iron Curtain' was constructed, it ended up passing right through the main booking hall. The blue and white railing, and a stone in the floor of the booking hall now mark the border:

 

Bayerische Eisenstein

 

Bayerische Eisenstein

 

 

There is a nice little railway museum on the German side, more photos in my Flickr album:

 

Bayerische Eisenstein

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ian Morgan
spolling misteak
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My family lived in West Berlin 1980-87 and then came back in 1995. I graduated from high school at the Kennedy Schule in Zehlendorf.

 

Some of my earliest memories involve taking the S-Bahn and U-Bahn to Friederichstrasse in order to cross the border. My parents had originally come to Germany as Mennonite missionaries and after a stint in Poland (when I came along) had developed relationships with East German Lutherans and Baptists while Dad studied at the Freie Universitaet in West Berlin.

 

We lived in Tegel and I attended school across West Berlin in Zehlendorf. We had to take the U-Bahn through Zoo in order to catch the school bus. For some reason, my parents let me take the U-Bahn by myself in the first grade and I learned pretty early on how to navigate the system. I think that speaks to how “small” West Berlin felt at that the time. I don’t think most parents would allow their first graders ride the subway by themselves these days.

 

By the 1980’s, the Reichsbahn no longer ran steam into East Berlin, but I remember seeing from the S-Bahn locomotives used as stationary boilers in the area around Warschauerstrasse and Ostkreuz (though I could be wrong).

 

I also have a fondness for the Soviet-built “Ludmillas,” which were the primary power for the Interzone trains through Zoo.

 

In 1981, I fell off the platform at Zoo, while my mom was handing luggage through the compartment window to my Dad on a trip to Holland. A friend laid on the platform and pulled me up. Mom was checking me out after the train left Zoo, because she knew she could get off at Wansee before it went into East Germany. My first memory is her checking me out in the railcar’s loo. I was two.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, On The Patapsco said:

 

 

I also have a fondness for the Soviet-built “Ludmillas,” which were the primary power for the Interzone trains through Zoo.

 

 

Me to. They were an important part of GDR motive power for many years.

I have a memory of a time when there was major flooding in the Dresden area and several of these machines were placed above the piers on the bridge outside the main station to help prevent the bridge being washed away. 

Bernard

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 27/12/2019 at 15:25, Bernard Lamb said:

Me to. They were an important part of GDR motive power for many years.

I have a memory of a time when there was major flooding in the Dresden area and several of these machines were placed above the piers on the bridge outside the main station to help prevent the bridge being washed away. 

Bernard

2013 floods , there's a video on YouTube showing the loco's on the bridge https://youtu.be/sU9mTtqVXsM

  • Thanks 1
  • Informative/Useful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/11/2019 at 09:53, Ian Morgan said:

 

I believe the briefcase would have contained all the passports of the train's occupants, along with all the official travel forms. These would be carefully checked and any full stops or commas on the passport had to match those on the travel documents. Reading other online accounts of the military train, there might also have been a bottle of whisky to assist the Soviet officer's eyesight during the checking.

 

 

 

I was posted to Berlin for 3 years and did Train Duty Officer on numerous occasions.  The briefcase mentioned contained passports, the travel permission documents documents and...  err, the occasional bottle of vodka.  These were marched down the platform, accompanied by the Train Sgt Major and the Sgt Major Interpreter on either side, to the Russian Officer and his clerk.  Once salutes had been exchanged, the office was entered and the clerk would check that the travel documents matched the passports [when I say matched, I mean precisely that, a comma out of place or spelling mistake would result in rejection and the whole cherbang came to a halt!]  Fortunately the people typing out the documents for the train were aware of the ramifications and made sure they were well checked before they got to the train.  

 

{NB. travel by car down the roads required the same documents and I did experience being sent back to the checkpoint for a correct document, 3 times.  Eventually an American checkpoint guard grabbed the three passports from the Brit guard and typed an accurate document, which allowed me to travel past the checkpoint.}

 

The return train journey had the same procedure at the other end [Braunschweig], with the same Russian Officer as the outward journey.  Perhaps I should note here that the Officers were complete gentlemen as would be expected.  It is perhaps also worthy of note that their hospitality meant that the bottle of Vodka, as a present to him, for his services to the passports, was gratefully accepted.  It was also custom that a gifted Vodka, bottle should be shared until completely finished and on the return journey, the Russian would probably have a similar bottle as a reciprocal gift. Marching back along the platform, in a straight line, required a touch of concentration, as did climbing up from the ballast into the coach.

 

During the checking of the documents, the British Military Train was not stopped next to the platform, but on a through line further away, hence the climb from the ballast.  I was led to understand that the reason was [in part, at least] due to the passing of the Orient Express.  I never saw what might have been the Orient Express, so that may be myth and mist.  What I did see was the reaction of the soldiers to the first female Train Duty Officer, a delightfully enthusiastic WRAF Officer, for whom I had been allocated to be on the train, in case there might be an adverse reaction from the Russians.  As it turned out there wasn't any problem at all and she got on with the Duty accordingly.  Interestingly there was a rule, that apart from the 4 Russian armed guards, one at each corner of the train, no other Soviet personnel were allowed in sight of the train.  So, when she had marched back to climb back into the coaches, she encountered a minor problem - the steps up to the coach were rather more than the WRAF skirt hem would allow.  Undaunted, the gallant lass hitched said skirt a little and hauled up the steps.  Job done!  However on the return journey, she climbed down and marched down the platform as expected - however, despite the restrictions on other personnel allowed to be there, it was clear that the news of the skirt hitch-up had travelled and there were faces all around the platform, regardless of the risk of Soviet retribution.  When it came to the time for her to return to the train, I plonked my hat on and got to the coach door, unless assistance might be advisable.  I needn't have bothered, as this young lady had clearly been exercising the little grey cells.  Having completed the march back down the platform and crossed the tracks to the coach door, she looked at the two Warrant Officers, either side and gestured with her head to her elbows and said "lift", which they did - straight up to the top step.

 

The British Military Train went on daily for many years and was wonderful experience and opportunity for contact with the Russian military, who were very similar to ours, as might be expected.    ......  All because of a train....

 

Regards

Julian

 

  

  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 31/12/2019 at 20:48, nexusdj said:

2013 floods , there's a video on YouTube showing the loco's on the bridge https://youtu.be/sU9mTtqVXsM

Thanks for posting the link.

It does show just how high the water level was.

I was in Grimma a bit further north at the time and the whole town centre was under at least 2 metres of water with the main square and the district near the river being cut off from the rest of the town. 

Bernard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.