Berlin

Berlin

..Russia decided to cut off the transit routes, hoping to have the city on its knees in three months and the Western forces would have to move out. The air corridor was kept open in the belief that it was purely a means of flying important people to and from the city and that was the loophole in the strategy of Russia. Some enterprising people in the West got their heads together, made some proposals, got rejected for being impossible, mixed some politics and eventually pulled it off. The Air Bridge was created! I think we Berliners of those days are still grateful that some people had the guts to push for the supply of the whole city of Berlin by air…

...I had no idea how hard it all was because we boys had a ball. We went to school, did a little homework and played in the gardens of our apartment blocks with lots of other kids. It was quite rough at times; there was still a lot of war material buried in the ground by the last few defenders of Berlin before fleeing for their lives. Whenever we found some old ammunition we would open the bullets, take out the powder and throw the primer into a fire and run. One guy could not count too well and went back before the last one went off; he was wearing the shrapnel in his leg for the rest of his life…

After finishing High School I had to make some decisions. I was not qualified to go to the next level and do my matriculation and continue to University. The education system was not clearly established again after the upheavals of the war. I was able to take another two years in what they called a Commercial High School of which the graduation certificate was supposed to be accepted as a University entry level. Not so as it turned out but there I learned some wonderful things like ten-finger blind typing, shorthand and a few more subjects which opened up my horizon in a more commercial field. Shorthand of course was just a waste since my previous experience with normal handwriting did not turn out too well; shorthand was just the Pitts (pun intended)….

…Life got serious; I had to find a job since the banks did not show much interest in me. It was still hard to get a place but through some friends of my mother I was introduced to a company willing to take in a couple of apprentices for the duration of three years. I had no idea what they were doing but was happy to take on anything where I could learn something which might give me opportunities later. Berliner Paketfahrt Bartz & Co was the name of this establishment, an old fashioned freight forwarder with some old trucks and a big warehouse. You could almost smell the horses which they must have used only a few years before but at least it was the beginning of some formal training….

.. On 13th August 1961 the East German authorities started to build the wall and cut off East Berlin from West Berlin. Some houses were part of the border; they bricked up the windows to keep people inside the walls; watch towers and 100-metre death strips were built, which meant any unauthorised person being apprehended within that cleared area could be shot on sight, without warning. Berlin was effectively cut into two cities and the wall was not built to keep people out but to keep their own population inside the country. It effectively became a huge prison…