Giles MacDonogh

A Country Immured

The Berlin Wall: 13 August 1961 – 9 November 1989

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I came late to the Berlin Wall. My first impressions were of its dreadful ugliness, something that whole stretches of graffiti in the style of Roy Liechtenstein did little to alleviate. My last memory of the Wall was on New Year’s Eve 1989. In the Tiergarten groups of men with chisels were chipping away at it, so that gaps had begun to appear between the concrete slabs. One wag had set fire to a stretch, but his fun was cut short by the arrival of a West German squad-car. There was a huge drunken gathering under the Brandenburg Gate. In the early hours of the morning the ‘Vopos’ – the East German police – pushed us all back over the West German border. The Wall might have been pierced on 9 November, but the GDR would limp on until October 1990; and besides, the party was over.

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