Category: East Berlin

British Victory Parade 1945: Desert Rats! May Your Glory Ever Shine!

The thump of the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery’s 25-pounder-guns at 10 am on Saturday, July 21st 1945 was intended to represent the last time that British artillery would be fired on the streets of Berlin - and the start of the British Victory Parade. The procession would take place along the very same street where Adolf Hitler’s troops had held their own victory parade almost five years earlier, on July 27th 1940, following the defeat of Poland and surrender of France. [caption id="attachment_6579" align="alignright" width="300"] 3rd Royal Horse Artillery salute[/caption] Now, as the leaders of the Big Three (Truman, Stalin & Churchill) gathered in nearby Potsdam to attend the final Allied conference of the Second World War, some 10,000 men along with tanks, armoured cars, searchlight batteries and artillery formations would march along Berlin's monumental Charlottenburger Chaussee - reviewed by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Ministers Anthony Eden and Clement…

Beyond Two Beers: Berliner vs Kindl & Sampling The Craft Beer Scene

May 1945. Berlin was a city of ghosts and ruins. Allied bombing had laid waste to vast swathes of the city centre, decimating the German capital’s infrastructure. Industry was crippled. Large-scale brewing operations had been torn apart by the high explosives that rained from the skies. In the years that immediately followed World War Two, though, two breweries would rise from the rubble and become powerhouses in the period when Berlin was divided: Berliner Pilsner and Berliner Kindl. They would come to define two divergent Cold War cultures in East and West. Berliner Kindl would become the poster child of the Wirtschaftwunder, a microcosmic example of West Germany’s economic recovery. The name was all over West Berlin – the shop front window for Western values behind the Iron Curtain – as Marshall Plan money poured into the city. The war and its immediate aftermath had been nothing short of disastrous for…

Eight Strangest Berlin Wall Escapes

As of Monday the 5th of February 2018, the Berlin Wall will have been down for longer than it stood: 28 years, 3 months, and 28 days. Erected on the 13th of August 1961, The Wall divided Berlin for 28 years during the Cold War and claimed the lives of, as official records currently state, 140 people, until its fall on the 9th November 1989. What started as a ramshackle border fence, comprising mostly of barbed wire and concrete posts, would be continually expanded into a 157-kilometre long fortress consisting of two walls with an armoured ‘no-man’s-land’ running in between – nicknamed, with characteristic German candour, the ‘Death Strip’. Unlike the no-mans land of the First World War, the control zone of the Berlin Wall was entirely in the territory of one power - East Germany - a country determined to stop the flow of citizens escaping West across its…

The German 9/11 – the ‘Day of Fate’

On a crisp autumn evening in 2014, I stood overlooking the path the Berlin Wall once traced as it wound around the British, French and US occupation zones of West Berlin like a concrete lariat. Breaking with precedent established at previous muted celebrations, the German government had decided to organise a unique spectacle to mark the 25th anniverary of the sudden & unexpected redundancy of the world's most famous wall. [caption id="attachment_4283" align="alignleft" width="300"] Berlin Wall Lichtgrenze, 2014[/caption] On 9th November 2014, thousands of illuminated balloons on slender stands, stood equal height as the former internal barrier of the German Democratic Republic, lined a 15km route through Berlin, passing the site of the main ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate. Following perfomances by Peter Gabriel and Udo Lindenberg, and to the strained tones of a rendition of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the balloons were released one-by-one to soar into the night-sky. Like…