After breakfast we got ready to walk to our coach and meet our tour guide for the day, Nikolai. Nikolai introduced himself as a Bulgarian born enthusiastic tour guide that was going to teach us about the Cold War. Firstly, he took us over to the 'Jason Bourne Bridge' where Mr Verco explained to us that this is the bridge where Matt Damon hung off to hide from the police in the Jason Bourne Supremacy movie. Then we walked over to see the Friedrichstrasse train station which we learnt was full of security during the time of the Cold War as it was the place of disembarking from the West to the East. The East was not allowed to go into the West and the West was allowed to visit their family in the East 4 times a year on a special VISA. Next to the station was the Palace of Tears were the immigration process would have taken place and Eastern Berliners would check the passports of Westerners and ask them several questions before allowing them into the East.
We then went to the Berlin Wall memorial were we got to see the West Berliner's view of the wall and compare it to that of the East Berliner's view of the wall. We saw the no man's land section between the East Berlin and the Berlin Wall where guards would sit and shoot at anyone who attempted to enter the area. As we were being informed by Nikolai about the Berlin Wall we were then ask to leave the area as the First Lady of South Korea was about to arrive shortly. When she arrived after a police car we all watched as she exited the car and viewed the memorial but we were then quickly drawn back to the enthusiastic voice of Nikolai. From then on he told us several stories about escapes from the East to West including Conrad Schumann who was the famous Eastern Berlin guard who made a jump from a building into West Berlin as he was photographed by journalists who encouraged him to jump. He became famous over night which was detrimental to the East as it made them look weak with guards betraying them so they responded by punishing his friends and family.
After these stories we drove past the east side gallery which is the longest section of the bridge that remains today. It stands at 1.3km long and is now preserved with art. As we were about halfway we notice that the First Lady of South Korea had been following us and was driving past the east side gallery as well. We drove past an iconic painting on the wall which was the socialist fraternal kiss via Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev. We then drove through the city centre which Nikolai explained was were the frontline of the Cold War was. After this we went to stop at Checkpoint Charlie which was the border between the Soviet Union district and the American district. We then said goodbye to our tour guide Nikolai and stopped for lunch with some people immediately heading for the KFC/McDonald's fast food option for a change but many for the bratwurst/frankfurter sausages and other cuisines which were all found to be as tasty as they looked. After quickly eating our lunch we headed into the town for free time. In this free time, most boys went to the museums about the Berlin Wall which sparked many interests. Many went to the good quality souvenir stores, people bought fragments of the Berlin Wall which all had a certificate of authenticity, flags and Cold War east Germany helmets and uniforms. We then went for a short drive to the famous Stasi Museum which is the museum for the East-German secret police. We split into groups and went into the architecturally impressive building where we saw many Stasi operation rooms where they would have worked and lived. There were many artefacts, items and clothing that were used in these times of the building being in function; for example, hidden cameras, brief cases, uniforms and small scale secret weapons like pistols and hand grenades. What we found interesting was that they were very secret and clandestine with what they did, they had many ways to record people in discreet ways through purses, belts and soft drink cans, they were also very secret with their prisoners, when transporting them they used a delivery van instead of an actual police van. We then went to dinner where we had a beautiful dinner of chicken and wedges which was a great meal alternative to one of the nights before, roast veges.
By Darcy Bouwman and Nick Jenneke