Tuesday, April 1, 2008

You Are Leaving The American Sector

Berlin may be one of the most fascinating cities to visit for people who grew up as children in the seventies and eighties. It is hard to come to grips with the fact that it has been nearly twenty years since the wall came down and there is a whole generation of young adults out there who have never lived through the cold war. For those who have, Berlin was the symbolic center of a worldwide conflict.
 
For nearly thirty years, children grew up hearing about the evils of communism. The idea of yet another World War involving nuclear war and the extermination of the human race was more than just an alarmist nightmare. That war was fought, not with soldiers and on battlefields, but with posturing… and the foot soldier of the cold war: the spy. The front line of that war was the city that spanned both sides of the conflict.
 
Stories of espionage and intrigue were exciting and adventurous, and they always seemed to involve a trip behind the iron curtain to that land of oppression and terror, where one could potentially never escape. Spies were suave and brave and cunning and everyone wanted to be one, or at least get caught up in a case of international intrigue where national security was at stake.

Today Berlin is a special place of contemporary history, the sight of perhaps the most monumental event of the past 50 years. The only thing that could make a trip to Berlin better would be if there were some difficulty or danger in crossing from West to East Berlin. The wall is gone, but sections remain as a memorial and other famous landmarks are exciting to see in person: Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, and Alexanderplatz.

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