I went to Berlin this weekend with the excursion. Who am I to turn down a free trip to Berlin, right? Some of the students wanted to go see the Berlin Wall and take some pictures of it for their end-of-session project. In the many times I've been to Berlin, I've not gone to the Wall. I haven't been to Checkpoint Charlie, either, but I'll save that for another trip.
Most of the Wall has been torn down to make room for development. The closest I've been to it is to see the remains of it in the middle of the street near the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag. It looks like cobblestones embedded in the street and is basically an eternal memorial to what has happened.
But there is a small section of the wall that remains standing. This weekend, I visited The East Side Gallery and saw the piece that is still there. We walked along the .62 mile stretch and looked at the artwork that adorns the Wall. (In 1990, over 100 artists came together and painted murals on one side. There was a restoration project that began in 2000 to help preserve these artworks, but about 2/3 remains unrestored and covered in graffiti.)
It was so surreal to walk along this stretch and know that just 15 years ago, people were forbidden from crossing this wall. You could see the Berlin Cathedral and the Rotes Rathaus from both sides, and it made me so sad to think that not everyone could visit these places.
The wall is no higher than a room's ceilings, probably 2 or 3 meters. Not so high, when you think about it. But high enough to create a fierce barrier not just physically but mentally as well. It makes me wonder what will happen in Israel, where the barrier is 2 or 3 times as high...
Time will tell.