- Title: From "Alice in Wonderland" to dog-walking: Germans recall fall of Berlin Wall
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (OCTOBER 22, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (German) WOMAN WHO LIVED IN EAST GERMANY, DAGMAR SIMDORN, SAYING: "The wall was suddenly permeable. It was the feeling as if you were soaring. Magnificent. It was something beautiful, it brought everything from the past fall together all at once. You felt like you were floating. Wonderful." CONTRAILS IN THE SKY SIMDORN LOOKING UP WITH REMNANT OF THE BERLIN WALL BEHIND HER (SOUNDBITE) (German) WOMAN WHO LIVED IN EAST GERMANY, DAGMAR SIMDORN, SAYING: "In everyday life, the Wall played a role in that it was just there. It stands before you if you're standing in front of it. You just had to accept it. It was, in a certain sense, somewhere at the end of the world." VARIOUS OF BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL TV TOWER IN THE DISTANCE BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL REMNANT OF BERLIN WALL / APARTMENT BUILDING ANGELIKA BONDICK ON HER BALCONY (SOUNDBITE) (German) WOMAN WHO LIVED IN WEST GERMANY NEAR THE "DEATH STRIP", ANGELIKA BONDICK, SAYING: "It was like that, and you just accepted it. That's how it was. We could go over (to East Germany). For me it was no problem. If we wanted to visit someone, we just had to hand in an application and it was always okay. We were there for a day, enjoyed it and simply went home." VARIOUS OF FORMER WATCHTOWER (SOUNDBITE) (German) WOMAN WHO LIVED IN WEST GERMANY NEAR THE "DEATH STRIP", ANGELIKA BONDICK, SAYING: "There was a watchtower. When we were on the balcony, they watched us with their binoculars and my husband, when he was drinking a beer sometimes, would raise his glass and they'd keep looking." REMNANT OF BERLIN WALL ALONG A STREET (SOUNDBITE) (German) WOMAN WHO LIVED IN WEST GERMANY NEAR THE "DEATH STRIP", ANGELIKA BONDICK, SAYING: "You could tell if someone was from the East or the West, because they had a different way. I can't describe it somehow. But now, everybody have grown together entirely normally, I think." (SOUNDBITE) (German) WOMAN WHO LIVED IN EAST GERMANY, DAGMAR SIMDORN, SAYING: "They had it drummed into them: 'East Germans are dumb, lazy, they're good-for-nothings.' But in the recent past, eyes have been opened that it wasn't just like this and (people) realised, 'They are just people like you and me.' The East Germans are sharp and they can do something." BERNAUER STRASSE STREET SIGN VARIOUS OF SIMDORN WALKING A DOG SHE TAKES CARE OF SIMDORN AT THE BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL (SOUNDBITE) (German) WOMAN WHO LIVED IN WEST GERMANY NEAR THE "DEATH STRIP", ANGELIKA BONDICK, SAYING (IN FRONT OF BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL): "It (the border strip area) was free for our dogs and we could let them run around. That was really nice for the dog owners. So in that instance the border strip was positive in the end." TOURISTS BONDICK LOOKING ON REMNANT OF THE WALL AND SKY
- Embargoed: 7th November 2019 08:47
- Keywords: Berlin Wall Fall of the Berlin Wall East Germany West Germany Berlin Wall memorial anniversary
- Location: BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Society/Social Issues,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA004B2GG2FB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: CONTAINS VIDEO WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Dagmar Simdorn had just been to visit her late husband's grave when she walked out of the cemetery and looked along her street towards the austere Berlin Wall checkpoint at Bernauer Strasse. There was an opening.
Walking the short distance along her quiet street in East Berlin, she could see the Wall had not been completely torn down, but there were ways through. So she peered into the West.
"You could look up the Bernauer Strasse and had a free view of everything. It was like Alice in Wonderland," recalled Simdorn, now 81, who grew up during World War Two and then lived in East Germany on the front line of the Cold War.
The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961, ran along Bernauer Strasse, which became famous for escapes from apartment block windows and through tunnels running underneath it. Ten people are also known to have died trying to escape the area.
Just a stone's throw away in the west, Angelika Bondick's experience of the Wall and its fall was more humdrum.
Her former husband used to raise his beer to the guards in the Bernauer Strasse watchtower above the 'death strip', and she occasionally waved at them from their flat on the same street.
Bondick, now aged 63, still lives in the same apartment building, the old watchtower still visible from her balcony.
When the Wall fell, she was asleep or busy with her children - she can't quite remember - and missed it to start with. In any case, she had often visited East Berlin to see family. The Wall had simply been a given.
In the days after it fell, easterners formed long queues to buy fruit in the supermarket where she worked, a job she still does. More tourists flocked to the new museum outside her flat.
Once the Wall area was cleared away, there was one major advantage: "It (the border strip area) was free for our dogs and we could let them run around. That was really nice for the dog owners. So in that instance the border strip was positive in the end."
(Production: Oliver Ellrodt, Tanja Daube, Paul Carrell, Barbara Woolsey)
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