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Chapter 4
The first day "over there"

On November 10, the American military policeman stoically watches over his Allied border checkpoint "Checkpoint Charlie".
On November 10, the American military policeman stoically watches over his Allied border checkpoint "Checkpoint Charlie". | Photo: © Andreas Ludwig

Where Soviet and American tanks have faced each other since the Wall was built, the media are there live as East Berliners stream towards West Berlin. They want to "have a look".

By Regine Hader and Dr. Andreas Ludwig

 The older ones want to stroll across the Kurfürstendamm and see friends and relatives once again. The younger ones discover new localities where the East Berlin city map has hitherto only shown a white area. Meanwhile, many office chairs remain empty, the machines in the factories are abandoned as the workers visit West Berlin - regular work is out of the question. Some, however, do not wish to take part in the commotion or hold "the position" for political reasons.

Map forged by state security. This was to prevent the GDR population from receiving accurate information about the border. Map forged by state security. This was to prevent the GDR population from receiving accurate information about the border. | Photo (detail): Tim Brakemeier © dpa – Fotoreport East Berliner "Trabanten" (“Trabbis”) move among Golfs and BMWs through the nightly traffic jam on West Berlin's streets. A few hours after the evening news on western TV, West Berlin resembles a huge street festival. "It's a mix of different feelings. On my first trip it was of course a big surprise to see what everything looks like. I'm not exactly blind and I realised that there are other problems above and beyond the Wall; that our current system leaves people behind or creates new problems. Everything that was A was now Z. Everything that was important was now unimportant and vice versa", reminisces Katharina Steinhäuser about her first visit to West Berlin.


Traffic jam in West Berlin 9 November 1989, near Kurfürstendamm Traffic jam in West Berlin 9 November 1989, near Kurfürstendamm | Photo: Fumiko Matsuyama © wir-waren-so-frei.de In the coming days,  West Berliners will also be taking a look at East Berlin. Initially, they will still be applying for day visits and permits to obtain a visa, will be passing border controls and will have to exchange money. But because no one wants to control any more, wants to endure the anger or mockery of those intending to travel, the curious soon view the dissolution of any kind of order un-bureaucratically. Some are said to have succeeded in entering the country by presenting a fare ticket instead of ID, while others stop at the Wall and only now believe that it is really open.

Read on in chapter 6

 
Man with camera at the open sector border Man with camera at the open sector border | Photo: Andreas Ludwig

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