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Going Through Checkpoint Charlie Where East Meets West (Berlin)

berlin_-_checkpoint_charlie_1963

[Checkpoint Charlie]

30 May

I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss.

I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged.

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30 May

Around ten o’clock I set out for Checkpoint Charlie. I say that I set out for Checkpoint Charlie, but i would be less than truthful if I stated I got there easily. In fact, I threw my destiny into the hands of Fate to get there at all. For the first time I did what I understand is a favourite pass time of tourists, I executed a complete circle and returned to the Hostel. At least I wasn’t lost.

I set out again, knowing I was to go past a particular building, and also go through a large field. Surprisingly enough,  after a ten minute walk, I unexpectedly came to Checkpoint Charlie. And there were the people from the group I was travelling with, who shuffled me into their midst and thus near the front of the line.

Going past the British soldiers was a matter of seconds. You gave your name and the time you expected to return and that was it. Then told you were not allowed to take any photos, you headed to the East German barrier. Here they took your passport; you filled in forms; you had to exchange some of your money for East German money (which you had to spend in the East); got little slips of paper stuck into your passport; walked to a further barrier where you again showed your passport, and then the next thing you were doing was walking in East Berlin.

We had been told to walk along the street until we came to Unter den Linden and then stay on it. We could go down side street, but always return to Unter den Linden. And that is what we did – more or less.

What I had expected of East Berlin was a dark, grey, dirty city, with haggard, suspicious-looking people in 1950’s clothing slinking along the streets with large bundles in their hands. I actually saw little difference in the people, or the place, than what I had seen in West Berlin.

Yes, it was more run-down looking, and there were more ruined buildings, and even buildings that were war-scarred, but it was clean and neat, and the people were like anyone else, though there were far fewer on the streets.

[More to come another day]

 

 

 

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The Dream On The Night Train

11458140-railroad-track-switch-stock-photo-railway-tracks-train

The troubled night carries too many warnings of mortality to be ignored.

There are horses kept unfed in refrigerators, clambering to get free.

Some will be found emaciated.

Punishment will be meted in an ingenious and terrifying manner.

Flowers will turn to doorknobs.

Stooping to smell will reveal the pungent scent of fingerprints.

Dreams to befuddle Satan.

Fears not be wished upon a hated enemy.

The steps are steep.

The rooms without walls.

Pictures hang and grin with howling mouths.

What would be the fruit of seed tilled in these fields?

If that hunted figure, racing so slowly after the final train, is you,

Whose eyes watch the train?

DE

(image)http://previews.123rf.com/images/jerryb7/jerryb71111/jerryb7111100134/11458140-Railroad-Track-Switch-Stock-Photo-railway-tracks-train.jpg

Kafka Passport Reaches Twice Expected Price At Auction

Alas, I did not get it. And to think they gave it to Kafka for nothing.

I am contemplating a novel dealing with the time frame of this passport. Kafka attained it near the end of his life so he could travel to Berlin and to sanatoriums in other countries. But, he was already doomed.

DE

Sold for US$ 37,500 (CA$ 49,742) inc. premium

Bonhams

KAFKA, FRANZ. 1883-1924. Czechoslovak Passport Signed ("Dr. F. Kafka František"), [Prague, June 1922].
Lot 182
KAFKA, FRANZ. 1883-1924.
Czechoslovak Passport Signed (“Dr. F. Kafka František”), [Prague, June 1922].
Sold for US$ 37,500 (CA$ 49,742) inc. premium

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