Europe 1979 – 6 – Gone but not Forgotten

The front wall of a church on a street corner in West Berlin.  The wall is the only thing left standing from the WWII bombings.
West Berlin 1979

In 1979, this front wall of a church in West Berlin was all that remained after the bombings of World War II.

When I researched this location, I didn’t find anything about this site. The location, as best as I can see from zooming in, is at the corners of “Streseinannstrake” and “Schoneberger Stalge” streets. My spelling may be off a bit. According to Google, many of the bombed out buildings and churches have either been restored or removed. When I saw it in 1979, it was the first time I had ever seen anything that had been bombed. In fact, it is the only time.

Of course, we also saw the Berlin Wall.

Concrete Berlin Wall with a street lined with buildings behind it.
Looking into East Berlin
1979
Cobblestone street with Berlin Wall and a set of stairs to see over the wall.
Berlin Wall
1979

Our Berlin tour guide was an older woman who could easily remember the wall being built. It took just two weeks. She pointed out that not only did it divide the city, but it also divided families. We saw the older man, in the picture above, hitting the wall with a cane. Our tour guide said the man came to the wall every day and did the same thing. His daughter and her family were on the other side. I will forever wonder if this man was reunited with his daughter when the wall came down ten years later in 1989.

Berlin Wall with cut glass on top
1979
Berlin Wall Allied Checkpoint
1979

I also had never seen cut glass on the top of a wall. Nor had I seen towers with armed guards watching a civilian area, so that people could not escape. Even with the barbed wire, glass and armed guards, some people did try to escape. According to Google, between 1961 and 1989, at least 140 people died in some way while trying to cross the wall.

Memorial with a wreath and cross with a name on it in front of a building.
Bernd Lunser
4.10.1961

Unfortunately, I cannot remember the exact itinerary of our schedule. At some point during our travels in Germany, we visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. To my shame, I cannot remember its name. I only took two pictures. It was just too sad, too horrific. How can anyone say this didn’t happen?

Concentration Camp
1979
Execution Chamber
at the Concentration Camp

In such challenging times, many look to the divine for strength to carry on. The view below is looking into East Germany and includes some kind of tower with a ball near the top. Our guide pointed out the shining cross on the ball and said this unplanned appearance of a shining cross angered the communistists.

Perhaps, it gave others hope.

Looking over wall into East Berlin.  There is a tower with a ball near the top.  Sunlight is reflecting on the ball in the shape of a cross.
Looking into East Berlin
1979

Next: Going behind the Iron Curtain

Note: The structure in the feature photo is not the front of a church. Rather, it is the Anhalter Bahnhof, an important and significant piece of Berlin’s history. Please read the follow up post for more information.

24 comments

    • Thank you, Terry. You are right, seeing these things definitely had an impact on me. I would also say our tour guide in Berlin was dedicated to telling the story of the wall. When someone’s job is more than a job, it really shows.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s fascinating to see your pictures and also to recall a time before the wall came down. The remains of the bombed out church are quite a testimony to the horror of war. Maybe you will get to visit Europe again someday? As you say, enjoy your weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even though I think of Europe as pretty “classic” or timeless, there have been some changes since I’ve been there. I would like for Dan and I to visit Europe someday, but I’m not sure if it’ll happen. If we do, it would be on some kind of tour. For now, we want to see our country in our travel trailer. It’s cold here, but the sun is shining. And that makes every day enjoyable!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can imagine seeing the sights in Berlin and Germany was more than just looking at some cool buildings and pretty scenery. You were seeing important history. It is so hard to understand why all that could have happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is hard to understand. When I was in Berlin, I remember thinking, “I’ve never seen anything that has been bombed.” When I wrote the post, I thought, “That’s the only time I’ve seen anything that has been bombed.” So many in the world are not so fortunate. History really comes alive when places are visited. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you have a good day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a step back in memory! It made me recall my college professor who went to Berlin and danced on the wall when they tore it down. It was indeed a fascinating and interesting post, and if the sun were not shining so brightly here, too, I would be tempted to be learning more. I will save it for the next rainy day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The remains are those of the Berlin Anhalter Bahnhof, a train station, used to transport Jewish elderly people to a transit camp prior to the concentration camp. If you search under this name, you will find the history of the remaining facade, which appears to be still standing near 75 Stresemannstrasse. There is a post at archaeology-travel.com that describes it. I think you should do a follow up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, thank you for researching this information. I will definitely do a follow up. And I will link the follow up post in the original post once it’s published. I’m shooting for tomorrow morning. How did you find this information? I’d like to know, so I can improve my simple detective skills. Again, thank you for providing this very meaningful and important information.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I read the post and the follow up and the thing that sticks in my gut is that man hitting the wall with a stick. As a father, I cannot imagine the agony. I don’t know what I would do if I was separated from my daughters. It a scary thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow what sobering memories. And in 1979, for all we knew, the wall would be up forever. If I ever get to Germany, I don’t know that I can visit a concentration camp. It was hard enough for me to visit the Anne Frank house knowing that is how her story sadly ended.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand, David. Some things are just too sad. I don’t remember a lot about the concentration camp visit. I am thinking our visit was limited. We drove by the Anne Frank house but didn’t tour it. We can only hope and pray we learn from these atrocities.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I cannot imagine how that elderly gentleman felt. A family divided, torn apart. I would like to say we have learned our lesson from the past but unfortunately I’m afraid not. Still today children have been torn from their parents. How tragic, even more so that it still continues. I wonder sometimes about the human race, are we going forward or regressing? Thanks for the post and the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.