It was like a chess game between the superpowers USA and USSR, and Germany, especially Berlin, was the chess board. That was the period between 1947-1991, roughly, the so-called cold war, a term going back to the writer George Orwell. It was a fight without bloodshed, a battle over minds, fought with all sorts of propaganda and manipulation.
The superpowers sent spies in each others countries, passing through Berlin, buying and selling strategical political and technological information, and when they got caught, they got exchanged against someone from the other side, who had been arrested by their own people.
Whereas the border between East Germany and West Germany was strictly controlled from the end of the 1940s onwards, Berlin had remained open. People moved freely around between the three Western sectors and the Eastern sector. Not only a lot of East Germans emigrated, “fled” to the west, but more and more East Berliners went working in the Western sector. There they were much better paid, yet they benefitted from East Berlin’s cheap housing, cheap food and clothes, free medication, university education etc. But their work force and taxes went to the West, and that caused immense losses to the German Democratic Republic, the communist part of Germany. In 1960 half a million people crossed the border twice a day, therefore in 1961 the GDR isolated West Berlin with the famous Berlin wall.
For people in West Berlin life had changed drastically after the war. The future was uncertain. The island in the middle of communist Germany was not an attractive place any more. The rip-roaring twenties seemed lost forever. Many people had left the city, society underwent a deep change. The Jews were gone, and the cultural life of the city was quite impoverished without the many jewish artists, musicians, writers and philosophers who used to live and work here.
Cold War Berlin on Bike
Summertime in Berlin is bound to bring an extra bouncy feel to your travel plans. Make a dash to the Cold War era Berlin sites on a guided tour on a bike and make the historic leap back in time.
The historic Berlin Wall which divided not only Berlin but the whole world on ideological lines is no more their but remanants of this concretized symbol of the Cold War are still there in the city. The guided historic ride on bike will bring the story behind creation of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and freezing of the tensions on two sides of the wall. In appearance it was like any other wall but it was no ordinary wall as it came to divide the two diametrically opposite worlds, the two worlds always in mistrust of each other and at loggerheads. The Cold War between the Capitalist Western powers and the Communist East seemed to have frozen in the form of the Berlin Wall and Berlin witnessed it all.
A visit to the Checkpoint Charlie will bring alive the bygone era when movement from one part of the city to the other appeared like a inter-planetary movement due to severe restrictions across the border.
Riding on bike on the majestic Unter den Linden and moving onto the iconic Brandenburg Gate. It was here when US President Ronald Reagan cried, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall”.
The hot pursuit of the Cold War can still be felt inside the Cold War bunkers which were built as a doomsday survival refuge. The bike ride will have a halt at one such bunkers. The visiters will have the opportunity to visit the Cold War bunker and see for themselves a dreaded chapter of history.